Susan Fung's Blog
For a first-time homebuyer, it is important to realize that a home seller's acceptance of your initial offer provides no guarantees. In fact, a homebuyer will still need to complete a home inspection before a home sale is finalized.
A home inspection is a valuable opportunity to learn about any potential issues with a house. After the inspection is finished, a homebuyer has the opportunity to submit a counter-proposal, rescind a proposal or keep his or her current offer intact.
Ultimately, hiring the right home inspector can make a world of difference for a homebuyer. With an expert home inspector at your side, a homebuyer can gain insights into a house's pros and cons and determine whether a house is a viable long-term investment.
So what does it take to employ the right home inspector? Here are three tips to help a first-time homebuyer do just that.
1. Conduct an Extensive Search
Search far and wide for a home inspector – you'll be glad you did. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to locate a skilled home inspector in your area, you can boost your chances of identifying potential home problems before you complete a home purchase.
A first-time homebuyer can begin a search for an expert home inspector online. A simple web search is sure to provide plenty of results, and a homebuyer then can perform an in-depth review of local home inspectors' credentials.
Furthermore, don't hesitate to ask family members and friends for assistance. If a loved one recently sold a house and had a great experience with a home inspector, it may be worthwhile to hire this same professional to perform your home inspection.
2. Look at a Home Inspector's Background
How many years of industry experience does a home inspector have? What are past clients saying about a home inspector? And how does a home inspector approach each job? These are some of the questions that a first-time homebuyer should consider as he or she assesses a home inspector's background.
In addition, a homebuyer can always reach out to a home inspector directly to learn more about this professional's experience. A face-to-face or phone conversation with a home inspector may require only a few minutes to complete and can help a homebuyer make an informed decision.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent can help you discover your dream house as well as put you in touch with the top home inspectors in your area. As a result, this housing market professional will ensure you can purchase a first-rate house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
If you're uncertain about whether to hire a particular home inspector, it never hurts to consult with a real estate agent. By doing so, you can gain honest, unbiased tips to determine whether a home inspector is the right person to evaluate your residence.
Employ the best home inspector prior to completing your home purchase – use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer should have no trouble hiring a superior home inspector.
Before you commit your hard-earned money to a luxury home, make sure you know what you're purchasing. Just because a house has a high price doesn’t mean it’s truly luxury. A luxury home is built better and has more space and amenities in it than other homes. Even a home with the same number of bedrooms as other houses could be a luxury home, but the bedrooms are going to be larger, plus they will have more closet space – usually walk-in closets – and each bedroom might have its own bathroom. Other signs that a home is really a luxury home include better appliances, the best fixtures and additional amenities as space allows, such as a pool, an external game room and a larger garage.
Check the Neighborhood
If other homes in the neighborhood are in the same price range, you are likely buying a luxury home. However, be careful as some neighborhoods are just more expensive than others, but that doesn’t mean the homes are luxury homes. It’s easier to tell a luxury home that is in the suburbs because those homes usually have more space for pools and additional out-buildings.
Check the Interior
In addition to the items mentioned above, check the quality of the materials. Flooring, including carpet, should be top quality. Cabinets should be wood cabinets. If the house has crown molding, it should be good quality – and more than just a strip tacked where the wall meets the roof. Countertops should be of high quality if not marble. Look at window frames and door jambs to see how well they are put together. And the windows should be at least double pane windows, if not triple pane.
Be prepared to jump through some hoops to get financing. If the price of the home is above a certain amount, you’ll need to qualify for a jumbo loan. That amount changes depending on your location. It may also change every few years. Your real estate agent and mortgage lender will be able to tell you what the conforming loan limit is for your area.
Get it Inspected
Just because you are buying a luxury home, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have problems. Always hire a well-respected inspector to inspect the home before you close. The inspector will check for plumbing, electrical and structural issues, will make sure everything works properly, will let you know if he or she sees signs of wood-destroying organisms and other problems. In addition to a home inspector, always have the home inspected by a pest control company for termites and other critters that could damage the home.
Home prices are always negotiable, especially if the inspectors find problems. Ask your real estate agent for a list of comparables so you know if the property you're considering is priced appropriately.
Buying a home in a neighborhood with a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) works well for some families, while others find the HOA to be burdensome or intrusive. Learning more about what an HOA is, how it works and what to expect can help you determine if your next home should be in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association.
What Is a Homeowners Association?
When builders or developers create planned communities with ameneties, they often also create a homeowners association to help manage the shared areas of the property when the building is complete. The homeowner’s association has some powers over the people who live in the neighborhood and is also responsible for maintaining the look and integrity of the community. Anyone owning a home in the community must also pay HOA fees for the services rendered. Dues can be paid monthly quarterly or annually and are determined by the association itself and its bylaws.
If you buy a home in a neighborhood with an HOA it is important to discover what rules are in place and what expectations the HOA has of residents. Some are far more involved and assertive than others, with rules for trashcan placement, yard maintenance and even parking. You should know what amenities you’ll have access to when you join the community and how your fees will be spent.
Since HOA fees are an added expense, they’ll also be considered when you apply for a mortgage, so be sure to factor them in when you work out what you can afford.
Benefits of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community
Communities that have an HOA in place are generally well maintained; the HOA is responsible for caring for public areas, landscaping, sidewalks and some roadways. You won’t have to worry about living in a messy or unsightly neighborhood when an HOA is in place.
A pool you don’t have to care for, tennis courts to use on demand and even a clubhouse for parties and get togethers are big draws for some homeowners, if these things matter to you, you’ll enjoy this type of community.
A community with an active and healthy HOA will likely have groups and social gatherings. In some HOA groups, clubs, celebrations and welcomes for new members are scheduled throughout the year. If you want a close knit, involved community, then the right type of HOA may serve your needs well.
Drawbacks of Living in a Homeowner’s Association Community
The biggest drawback of living in an HOA community is having to cope with rules that you don’t agree with or that put a burden on your family.
For many homeowners, the HOA determines what colors a home can be, how often the lawn should be mowed and even what holiday decorations are acceptable. If you prefer making these decisions for yourself, you may not enjoy an HOA neighborhood.
You may not be able to make some improvements to your home; your HOA will determine if you can create an addition, add a fence (and will specify what kind of fence you can have) or even rent out your property. Homeowners who might want to expand their home, renovate or even have kids or get a dog may find that the rules for fencing and building are too stringent.
In some cases, an HOA has the power to levy annual fees or costs for construction projects and bill homeowners for the work. In some communities, this can run into the thousands of dollars per home. You should be aware of this possibility and determine if the HOA has to power to charge members for capital improvements before you buy.
Is an HOA Community Right for You?
If amenities and low care public areas matter to you and you don’t have plans for ambitious renovations or home changes, then an HOA neighborhood could suit your needs. If you generally dislike having rules imposed on things you own or feel uncomfortable having to request permission to make changes, the HOA may be more of a burden.
Review the rules and bylaws of any HOA you are considering buying into to be sure you fully understand what to expect before you make a purchase. You’ll be able to enjoy the neighborhood without any unwelcome surprises or costs when you know what to expect.
Those who currently own a home may consider investing in a second home for income purposes. However, it is important to understand you may have hurdles to overcome when searching for a mortgage or obtaining homeowners insurance. Here are some of the most significant differences between buying an investment property and a primary residence.
Obtaining a Mortgage
In nearly all cases, mortgage rates for investment properties are higher than when you buy a primary residence. The reason for this is that lenders tend to view an investment property as a riskier loan than a loan provided for an owner-occupied property. Lenders may also impose more stringent requirements on debt-to-income ratios and credit scoring.
The news is not all bad because while a lender may have stricter debt-to-income requirements, a portion of your anticipated rental income may help offset the change. Not all lenders will include potential rental income, but it is worth asking about. If your mortgage lender is willing to use the rental you expect to collect as part of your income it is likely they will use a percentage of the rent, less potential repair costs, and vacancy costs.
Down Payment Requirements
Typically, if you are purchasing an investment property, the lender will require you to make a larger down payment. In many cases, you may be required to put down as much as 25 percent of the purchase price. The good news is that unlike with the purchase of a primary residence, you may be able to borrow the down payment. However, this will have an impact on your debt to income ratio because you will be paying another loan.
Greater Reserve Requirements
Your mortgage lender may have a reserve requirement when you purchase a primary residence. Reserves are generally to ensure you have an emergency fund for things like unexpected repairs. When you seek financing for an investment property your mortgage lender may require you to have a larger reserve in case your rental income decreases unexpectedly.
Potential Tax Consequences
If you are considering an investment property, you should also understand there are certain tax benefits and drawbacks. Unlike a primary residence, you will have to claim the income generated from the property. You may also get some important tax breaks so it is a good idea to talk to a tax specialist about tax issues you may face.
If you are considering investment property as a means of generating additional income and building future equity, make sure you understand the hurdles you may face. Your real estate agent can help you learn the rental history of the property, neighborhood details, and other information you should know before making this important decision.
A real estate agent is a must-have for homebuyers, particularly in a highly competitive housing market. However, it is important to understand what it takes to work with a real estate professional to ensure you can enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.
What does it take to get the best results from the homebuying journey? Here are three rules to follow so that you and your real estate agent can work together to find your dream house.
1. Establish Realistic Homebuying Expectations Before You Begin Your Home Search
Buying a home can be a long, costly process if you're not careful. But with the right real estate agent at your side, you can simplify your house search.
Ultimately, you should work with a real estate agent to establish clear-cut homebuying expectations before you embark on your search for the perfect residence. This will enable you and your real estate agent to work together to achieve a common goal.
With realistic homebuying expectations, you'll be able to help your real estate agent understand what you'd like to find in your dream residence. Meanwhile, your real estate agent can get to work and keep you up to date about available homes that will meet or exceed your expectations.
2. Understand Your Real Estate Agent's Role in the Homebuying Process
A real estate agent should define his or her role in the homebuying process. That way, you'll know exactly what to expect as you go from homebuyer to homeowner.
Typically, a real estate agent will set up home showings, negotiate with home sellers on your behalf and offer honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. He or she also should be available to respond to your questions throughout the homebuying journey.
Your real estate agent will be happy to assist you in any way possible. By doing so, he or she will make it simple for you acquire to acquire your ideal residence at a price that matches your budget.
3. Ensure That Both You and Your Real Estate Agent Are Comfortable Working with One Another
Communication plays a key role in the success of a homebuyer and his or her real estate agent. If you keep the lines of communication open with your real estate agent, you should have no trouble staying on top of the housing market.
In most instances, a real estate agent will be able to keep in touch with a homebuyer via phone, email and text. At the same time, you should try to remain available to your real estate agent as much as possible.
With ongoing communication with your real estate agent, you'll be able to stay informed as new properties become available that fit your homebuying criteria. Furthermore, your real estate agent can help you alleviate stress by listening to your homebuying concerns at each stage of the homebuying journey.
Many real estate professionals are available in cities and towns nationwide. Start your search for a real estate agent today, and you can move one step closer to discovering your dream home.