How to Find a Good Lender or Mortgage Company

How to Find a Good Lender or Mortgage Company

mortgage
Finding a good lender is key to your home purchase.

 

Whether you are a first time home buyer, a seasoned home buyer, or a real estate investor, you will need a way to pay for your home purchase. You will need to learn how to find a good lender or mortgage company.

And unless you happen to have a good stash of cash, you will need to procure a loan, in order to finance your home buy.  By far, the most popular way to finance a home is through a lender, or a mortgage company.

The mortgage industry is very large, and it includes many, many mortgage companies.  So how do you pick one that will be fair with fees and interest rates, give you a good chance to be approved for a loan, will be there for you when you need it, and for the long haul?

Home loans are obtainable through various lenders.  Commercial lenders, thrift institutions, mortgage brokers, mortgage companies, and credit unions. Home loans are likely the largest loan you will ever attempt to secure.

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What you do before you obtain a home loan will determine to a large extent, your financial future. In fact, if you get a 30 year loan, which is the most common, your finances will be affected profoundly for a good part of your life.

shop for best loan rates, fees, and terms
It pays to shop for the best rates, fees, and terms.

Take your time, and be diligent with this process. If you shop around for the cheapest gas prices, which many of us do, how much more important is shopping around for the lowest interest rate, and lowest fees from a lender?  It can mean hundreds, or thousands of dollars of savings to you.

You will need to do some homework. Ask family, friends, coworkers you trust, real estate agents, your accountant,  and financial advisor to make a lender, or mortgage company recommendation for you.

You should consider 5 or 6 different mortgage lenders, and start comparing. You can then shop the lenders on your short list. Compare rates, fees, terms, and types of loans.

 

Ask about:                                                                                                              Interest rate: The interest rate is the amount of interest that is charged on the loan.

APR Annual Percentage Rate:  Expressed as a yearly rate, the APR includes interest, points, broker fees, and other lender fees.

Loan Types:

Fixed Rate: A fixed rate loan is a loan that has the same interest rate throughout the entire duration of the loan, which keeps your mortgage payments steady.  Easily the most popular fixed rate loan is the 30 Year Fixed Rate loan.

Next in popularity is the 15 Year Fixed Rate Loan. Also available is a 50 Year Fixed, a 40 Year Fixed Rate Loan, and a 20 Year Fixed.  Some lenders offer all of these products, while some offer only certain loans.

ARM Adjustable Rate Mortgage
ARM Adjustable Rate Mortgages may be right for you.

An Adjustable Rate Mortgage, or an ARM, has a changing, or floating interest rate.  An ARM, unlike a fixed rate mortgage, can fluctuate, depending on different economic, and market factors, and or a specific indicator it is tied to.

An ARM’s interest rate is normally significantly lower initially than a fixed rate mortgage due to it’s possibility of rising in the future.  An ARM is riskier than a fixed rate loan, and is best used when the intended term of home ownership is short, or relatively short.

Two-step Mortgages:   A two step mortgage will have the first time period at a certain percentage fixed interest rate, and the second period at a different fixed interest rate.    For instance, the first 10 year term of the loan could have a fixed rate at 4%, and the second 10 year term may have a fixed rate at 5%.

Combination Mortgages:  There are now mortgages available that combine a fixed rate term, and an adjustable rate term.  For example, there are loans where the initial period is at a fixed rate, say the first 10 years, and for every year beyond that the rate is adjustable for the duration of the loan.  There may be different combinations of the fixed period, and the adjustable period, depending upon the lender’s policies.

balloon mortgages
A balloon mortgage can be risky.

Balloon Mortgage:  A balloon mortgage normally has a fixed interest rate for a certain duration, usually with small monthly payments, and a large amount or balloon due at the end of the loan period.

This can be a risky loan type, as it is easy to get in trouble when the balloon comes due, if the homeowner has not saved a sufficient amount of money to cover the balloon amount.

It is sometimes possible to renegotiate this amount due, into payments into a longer duration, but it will be at the lender’s discretion, and the terms will more than likely benefit the lender, not the borrower.

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Research Online

compare loan companies online
Online research is great way to compare loan companies.

More and more people are going online to research products and services. Some online websites/companies will provide a helpful research service for you.

They have an up to date listings of many different loan companies, as well as their corresponding current interest rates, fees, and various types of loans available with different time periods, such as 10 year, 20 year, 30 year, or longer duration.

This can be an excellent way to look for the best loan, as you don’t have to leave your home to do it. You will save time, money, and have the ability to work with reputable, and competitive loan companies.

Or, you can research different mortgage companies, rates, and fees online, and be better prepared to deal in person with lenders, and loan officers.

Whether you choose the offline, or online route, or some combination of the two, you will also want a loan officer that is professional, thorough, and responsive to your questions, and needs. Word of mouth referrals are usually the best method to find a good loan officer.

Real estate agents usually work with 2 or 3 lenders, and have good relationships with others, as well. They know which lenders are trustworthy, reliable, and competitive, and they also know which lenders are not.

Realtors can steer you away from the problematic lenders, and refer you to those that have established, solid reputations in the industry.  If in doubt, search a realtor out.

A mortgage broker may be the easiest way for you to research different lenders. These brokers can give you information on several lenders, and, if they have the ability to research many lenders, you can ask them to give you the lenders that have the lowest rates, fees, etc.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease.
If you ask for better rates, terms, and/or fees, you may get them.

The Squeeky Wheel Gets the Grease

I have always believed that everything is negotiable. This has served me well through the years, as I have been able to realize discounts simply by asking. Sometimes a more strenuous negotiation is called for, but it is always worth a try to get a better price or deal.

Shopping for a mortgage is no different.  The mortgage industry is very competitive, and I promise you that every mortgage lender seriously wants your business.  They may be willing to reduce fees, points, or even the interest rate if you endeavor to negotiate it.

Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great once said,” I miss 100% of the shots I don’t take.”  I also like, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  So, whatever adage you want to use, it is always worthwhile to ask for a better price, or better terms. After all, you will never know unless you ask.

law-offices-1477311
A real estate lawyer can help you, and protect you.

Laws to Protect You

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Fair Housing Act, two federal laws, are both designed to prohibit discrimination regarding credit.

The FHA, Federal Housing Administration, prohibits discrimination in every aspect of the real estate transaction, including making loans to buy, build, repair, or improve a place to live.

If your application for a loan is turned down, the lender must tell your the reason or reasons that it was denied. You also have the right to ask questions to the lender regarding the denial.

Consider enlisting the services of a real estate attorney.  An attorney will break down the entirety of the loan process, and explain the loan paperwork to you in detail. There are excellent attorney services both offline, and online.

peace-of-mind-1491145
Hiring a real estate lawyer can give you peace of mind.

The extra expense of hiring an attorney could pay for itself in cost savings of the loan, and perhaps more importantly,  for your peace of mind.  Hard to put a price on peace of mind.

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Finding a loan through a reputable lender is perhaps the most important financial decision you will ever make. Your home loan could easily be a part of your life for the next 30 plus years.

Ask family members, friends, your realtor, your accountant, or your financial advisor to recommend a good mortgage lender for you. Do you due diligence by going online, and comparing mortgage companies, and all the specifics of the transaction, including interest rates, terms, and fees.

Make sure also that you know your rights, so you can protect yourself against discrimination.  You can obtain a loan either online, or in person.  Don’t sign or agree to anything until you are sure you understand exactly what the loan you are agreeing to is all about.

If you aren’t clear on something, be sure to ask before hand. Once you sign on the dotted line, it may be too late to back out of the deal when your questions arise.

It may even be worthwhile to hire the services of a real estate attorney to explain things to you before you agree to the loan. There are excellent real estate attorney services both offline, and online.

Now you know how to find a good lender or mortgage company.  You are well on your way to accomplishing the most important step in the home buying process.

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Best Houses to Buy

Best Houses to Buy

What types of homes are the best for resale?
What types of homes are the best for resale?

 

When it comes to resale, do you know the best houses to buy? One of the biggest considerations when buying a home is resale.  Resale is what price a particular home/property will command when it comes time to sell it.

You may be wondering if it makes a difference what type of house configuration has the highest resale value, or if it even makes a difference whether a two story has more appeal than a ranch. Or if a split level is more popular than a cottage style home.

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Most of us, at one point in our lives, will want or need to sell a home.  This could be for many different reasons: job transfer, divorce, moving closer to the kids, down size, up size, a change of scenery, tired of cold winters, death of a loved one,  or for many other reasons.

And, of course, if you are a real estate investor, you may buy many homes in the course of your career.   It just makes financial sense to buy right.  Ideally, when you buy, you want to appeal to the broadest market audience possible, in order to command the highest price possible for your home, when it comes time to sell.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t buy what you like.  There are more important considerations than resale.  You may truly like a home that may not be the most favorable for resale.

After all, you have to live in the home that you buy for the foreseeable future. Feeling comfortable with your home purchase, despite it’s configuration, is perhaps the most important consideration.  If you love the home, you will be happy with it, and if you love it,  there is a good chance that others will also.

There may be other reasons why you need a certain type of home, such as,for a big family.  If you need a lot of bedrooms, and baths, you may be more limited to 2 or more story homes, or a multi level, as these typically contain more square footage, and more bedrooms, and baths than other types of homes.

As a Realtor with experience selling, and buying different types of homes for clients, I have seen a definite pattern concerning different types of houses for resale.  Certain types of homes are more appealing than others.  There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking certain types of houses will sell faster, and for a higher price than others will.

This day and age, 2016, there are feature trends in houses that make them more appealing, and thus easier to sell. Such as, open floor plans, eat in kitchens, master bedroom suites, hardwood floors, wood burning fireplaces, main floor laundrys, finished, walk out lower levels,  and 2+ car attached garages.   These features will help resale no matter what type of home you buy.

Here are the best houses to buy, to the least to buy for resale purposes. There are many other styles of homes than those listed here, but these are by far the most common in today’s real estate market, at least in the suburbs of larger American cities.

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Ranch House
Ranch Home

1. Ranch

Ranch homes are clearly the best type of home/house to buy for resale.   The biggest reason ranch homes are the favorite is because most everything is on one level.  Most people, especially those getting up in age, don’t like having to walk up and down steps to get to and from levels in a home.

Most ranch homes are 3 bedroom, and 2 bath, which appeals to the largest market of buyers, but even 2 bedroom, 2 bath ranch homes are desirable to a good size market.

A finished, or partially finished, walk out lower level with a full bath, and at least one bedroom is also ideal in a ranch.  And, if you can find a ranch with a main floor laundry, you can rest assured, that if and when you want to sell, you will likely have a good pool of buyers to get you a good price, and a quick sale.

 

1.5 Story House
1 1/2 Story Home

2. 1/12 Story

The 1 1/2 story house consists of a main level, and a partial second story, perhaps with a bedroom or two, and a bath, and an attic.   These homes tend to be popular with small families, and if small enough, with those looking to downsize.

The utility, and upkeep costs for a 1 1/2 story tend to be light to moderate, and can make things less stressful than with larger homes.

This configuration includes the famous Cape Cod style home, as well as, the popular Country style home.  Ideally, if you can find a 1 1/2 story home with a main floor master bedroom suite,  and a main floor or second floor laundry, you will up your chances for a higher price, and quicker sale at selling time.

 

2 Story House
2 Story Home

3. 2+ Story

A 2+ story home consists of two large living levels.  A main level, and a 2nd story that is close to the same size as the main or first level.  The second story will normally consist of a number of bedrooms, one or more baths, and could include a sitting room, office, laundry, and an attic.  This type of home is ideal for a large, or growing family, and appeals to a typically younger demographic.

The normal large square footage size of these 2+ stories can be a drawback due to higher utility bills, more common repairs, and more difficult cleaning, and upkeep.

However, if you have a large, or growing family, you must have more bedrooms, and space, and a 2+ story is often the only configuration that fits the bill. Thus, there is always some demand for these larger homes. Unfortunately, the demand is less than with a ranch, or with a 1 1/2 story house.

Many 2+ story homes in the market today were built many decades ago before the advent of open floor plans, main floor laundrys, eat in kitchens, and main floor master bedroom suites. The more of these features you can find in a 2+ story, the better it will be for resale.

Also with the baby boomer generation at or near retirement age, and many looking to downsize, this type of home is not your best bet if your objective is good resale prices, and speedy sales.

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Split Foyer Home
Split Level Home

4. Split Level or Split Foyer

A split level or split foyer home generally consists of two living levels, an upper level that has the kitchen, breakfast room, living room, and 2+ bedrooms, and one or more baths.

And the lower level is normally finished or partially finished, and has a family room, sometimes a bath, an extra bedroom,  a tuck under garage, an unfinished area, and often a door directly to the back yard.

This type of home is popular as a starter home for first time home buyers or those on a limited budget, as they tend to be less expensive than most other types of homes. The utility, and upkeep costs are normally less than with most other types of homes, and can make a difference when the income is less, and the budget is tight.

The biggest drawback for the split level, as with most other types of homes, are the steps.  There are usually steps leading from the driveway to the front door, and once inside, from the foyer,  there are steps leading up to the main level, and more steps leading down to the lower level.

Split levels sometimes have a cramped feel due to smaller rooms, and less square footage.  They are sometimes in less desirable neighborhoods also, which can keep the resale prices down.

Due to their lower listing prices, there is always some demand for split levels.  If the home has been maintained well, there should be little trouble selling the home. However, prices for these dwellings do tend to be less than with other types of homes, so you will likely realize less of a profit.

 

 

Multi Level House
Multi Level Home

5. Multi Level

A multi level home is similar to a split level, yet it has one of more levels than the split level does. It normally consists of 3 or more living levels. A typical multi level configuration will have a living room and a kitchen on the main level, an upper level with bedrooms, and one or more baths, and a lower living level such as a family room with a fireplace that may lead out to a tuck under garage.

The lower level will sometimes have an additional half bath, and an unfinished area for storage, and to house the furnace, washer/dryer, etc.  These multi levels can be very attractive, and appealing, and they can also be quite unappealing if they are very large, and not maintained well.

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The biggest drawback, as with other house types, is the amount of steps that you will encounter. Also, with the different levels, it is not easy to see, and communicate to others in the house, when family members are in different levels, which can be a source of frustration.

Multi levels are not inexpensive to heat and cool due to their square footage, and can also be troublesome to keep in good working order, and to keep clean.

These homes are reasonably practical for large families, and growing families, as is the 2+ story style.

 

cottage
Cottage

6. Cottage

A cottage type home can best be described as any home that is on one level, and has 3 or less bedrooms normally 2 bedrooms, and one bath, with less than 1000 square feet of living space.

Many of the cottage style homes were built in America, just following the end of World War II.  They were relatively inexpensive, and seemed just right for the returning GI with a new wife, and perhaps a small, young family.   Cottage homes sprouted up in the suburbs of many cities.

Although fine for singles, couples, or couples with small families, these homes can be quickly outgrown.  Cottage homes usually have a cramped feel with their smaller rooms, and less square footage.

Considered starter homes, or downsize homes, there is some demand for these smaller homes, with first time home buyers just starting out, and older adults looking for less, and cheaper upkeep, and fewer stairs to negotiate.

I grew up in one of these cottage style homes in the late 50’s through the mid 70’s, and have some good memories of it, but it was also at times very cramped, and uncomfortable, and totally lacking in privacy.

Due to their older age, if these homes were not maintained, they can be difficult to sell.   However, due to the lower listing prices, if they are livable, and in a good area, you should be able to sell them fairly quickly, just not at a hefty price.

 

Pre fabricated House
Manufactured Home

7. Manufactured

These type of structures include pre fabricated, manufactured, and mobile homes.  Although there is a big difference between a nice, manufactured or pre fabricated home, and a mobile home, they are considered in the real estate industry the same type of homes.

These homes are almost always a big step down in quality from a constructed or professionally built home.

Manufactured homes are built out of a factory that fabricates, and combines different, large parts of the structures.  The finished product is then taken to the lot, and the final touches put together to form the house.

Although in the case of a mobile home, they are usually completely built in a factory, and transported to a lot or mobile home park.  Generally speaking, these types of homes use lower quality components, and are not as solid as the conventional built home.

They are also not as safe, or as durable.  As a result, they are often expensive to heat and cool, and upkeep can be expensive due to more frequent breakdowns, and issues.  Oftentimes repair parts are tough to locate, and a premium must be paid, assuming you can find what you need.

That said, I have seen some wonderful manufactured homes that were well built, had quality interiors,  and felt just like an expensive, custom built home.  Unfortunately, whether it is stigma, or reality, these homes do not appreciate in value like a regular structure, and can be difficult to sell.

The good news is, these homes are affordable, and thus appealing to a segment of the population, as there is always demand for lower priced housing.   Quite often a manufactured or mobile home will be on a nice, large lot that offers seclusion, fresh air, and quiet.

So, if you are not in a big hurry to sell, and you have realistic expectations about what your manufactured home will sell for, it may be an option for you.

 

Taking into consideration what you may be able to sell your next home for,  before you buy it, is one of the smartest financial moves you can make.  Everything else being equal, why not buy a home that will give you the best chance at future selling success.

 

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Advice for first time home buyers!

How to Find a Good Lender or Mortgage Company!

 

 

 

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How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

realtors
A good real estate agent can make all the difference to you.

 

Learning how to find a good real estate agent is critical.   Realize that a good agent is your best friend when it comes to helping you find what you are looking in the real estate market, whether you are an owner occupant, or an investor.

Whether you are buying, selling, or both, the agent will do all the heavy lifting, so you can continue to go about whatever takes up your time, be if work, family, hobbies, etc.

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A Realtor and you are aligned from the standpoint that it is in both parties interest to sell your home quickly, and for the highest possible price, and in the case of buying, to find you the best possible deal within the shortest amount of time, or within your time constraints.

What Makes a Good Agent

A good agent is someone that gets to know you, the client. He will understand what it is that you are in the real estate market for.

He will know your motivation, your time line, your financial limitations, if any, and exactly what it is you are looking for.  He will take charge of your real estate needs, and make you feel important, because you are the most vital part of his or hers real estate business.

Realtor returns calls, and texts in a timely manner.
You want a Realtor that stays in close communication with you.

He will communicate with you on every aspect of the process, whether it be selling, buying, or both.  He will return your calls, emails, texts, within a reasonable amount of time.

Realtors do get busy, but they should be able to get back to you within 24 hours, unless there are special circumstances involved.  As an agent myself, I always pride myself on returning clients communications as quickly as possible.

I always try to establish a good relationship with my clients. One of respect, and courtesy.  I try to treat my clients the way I would like to be treated.  I use competent, fair lenders that I feel good about referring to my clients.

The same with referring home inspectors, title companies, home owners insurance companies, and any other professionals, when the need arises.

I also go the extra mile when needed. If it is late at night, and that is the only time my client can get together to sign paperwork,  I will meet them when and where they like.

I have answered phone calls from clients very late at night, and very early in the morning, to discuss pressing needs, answer questions, or address concerns.

If a client is on a short time line. For instance, if they need to be out of their rental by a certain date, and need to have the keys to their new home within a relatively short time, I would make them a priority to be certain that we are able to find them a suitable home, and close on a date they could live with.

Talk is cheap, but I always make sure that if I tell a client something, that I will deliver on what I say, or promise, or if it becomes impossible, I will explain to them exactly why this happened, and how it can be remedied to their satisfaction.

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Where to Find a Good Agent

word of mouth
Family, and friends are best way to find your real estate agent.

The best place to find a good agent is your friends, and family.  It is also known as word of mouth.  Almost everyone has used a real estate agent at some point in their life, and they also know others that have used agents.

Get the opinions of people you trust. If they used a realtor recently, and it is in the same area as you are in, ask them if they would recommend them to you, and if so, why.

You can also go to a  local Realtor, and find out who the top agents in the office are.  Yes, top agents are busy, but have you heard the old addage, if you want something done, give it to a busy person?

This holds true in real estate. Often top agents will also have a team that works with them. This can be an advantage as their team will provide even more attention to your situation than you would get with a single agent, and can make things smoother still.

You should choose an agent that is a full time agent. If they work another job, it may be difficult for them to be available when you are available, and this can be important if something comes up, like paperwork that needs to be signed, and sent in very quickly.

If they are not on top of your deal, things can easily fall through the cracks, and cause problems down the road.  Also, they may not be able to return your calls or texts in a timely manner, and this could also loom large in the context of a real estate deal.

There are also online real estate websites that have ratings for agents, based mostly on client feedback, that can also assist you in finding your next agent.  Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, are 3 of the most visited real estate websites.

interview
Interview 2 or 3 real estate agents before you pick one.

Interview the Agents

Buying a home is the largest investment that the vast majority of us will make in our entire lives.  Isn’t it worth taking your time to make sure you have the best expert in the field that can help you with finding the home of your dreams, or selling your existing home for the highest possible price, in the shortest amount of time possible?

Locate two or three agents with good reputations. Contact them, and set up a meeting to sit down and talk over your real estate needs. Ask them how they will help you to meet or exceed your real estate needs.

You can also ask them  other questions to help determine their sincerity, commitment, and philosophy.  If you are looking for foreclosures, short sales, or other bargain properties, ask them what there experience, and knowledge is in this area.

The more information you can extract from the agents, the easier your decision will be when you make your final decision, as to which realtor to go with.  Don’t sign anything with them until you have met with all of your candidates.

Once you have decided on the agent you like best, you can move forward with finding a home, or listing your current home.

You may, at this point, decide to sign an agreement with the agent.  By signing a Buyer’s Agreement, with your new agent. you can go into more detail as to what you are looking for, where you are looking, and your price range.

You will be able to concentrate on locating your property with this person, and the agent will provide you with the services, and attention that you deserve.

If you sign a Listing Agreement, you and your agent will be able to zero in on putting your home on the market, and advertising it through the many effective channels that good Realtors use.

You may also be able to negotiate a lower commission percentage with your new Realtor, as the seller pays both the buyer’s agent’s commission, and seller/listing agent’s commission.

You will find that taking the time to research, and choose a good, professional Real Estate Agent, will be time well spent, and will ultimately prove to make your home buying, and/or selling experience an enjoyable, and beneficial one.

Now you know how to find a good real estate agent. You are on your way to home buying or selling success.

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Discover how to find a good lender or mortgage company!

Discover ways to sell your real estate!

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Ways of Selling Your Home

Ways of Selling Your Home

 

How to sell your home
There are many various ways of selling your home.

There are various ways of selling your home. Hopefully, if you bought at or below market price, you should have some equity in your home now that it’s time to sell it.

There are many different ways to sell.  Some of these ways you will be familiar with, others possibly not.

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real-estate-agent-3-1241383
Selling your home with a real estate agent is the tried and true method.

Real Estate Agents/Brokers

As a Real Estate Agent myself, I am partial to selling through an agent or broker. There are many advantages to going this route.  When you list your home for sale through a Realtor, you have set in motion a very powerful selling machine.

The first thing a Realtor will do, is go over your home with you to reveal the good, and the bad aspects.  They will make recommendations for you to be sure it is safe, sanitary, and looking as good as possible for the upcoming showings.

Your Realtor may tell you to fix what is needed, declutter areas, clean areas, and update/upgrade, if that is in your budget.  Once they know your home’s strengths, they will include them in the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, along with all of the other features of your home.

They will price your home according to comparables of recent home sales in your neighborhood/area, and what the real estate market is showing.   Having your home listed in the MLS will expose it to every real estate agent in the area, and is the go-to source for any agent looking for homes for their buyer clients.

Trusted do it yourself legal!

By being listed in the MLS, you will also get advertising through many online real estate websites, which many buyers look to when in the market for a home.  Realtors also do open houses, put up for sale signs in your yard, and neighborhood, and may advertise in real estate magazines, and online.

They also have a network of fellow agents, and other professionals in the industry, whom they will make aware of their listing. They will also take care of all the showings, handle any offers, coordinate inspections, lenders, title companies, and other agents in the selling,and/or closing process.

Although this service will cost you between approximately 6%-7% of the selling price, a good realtor will help your realize a higher price, and sell your home more quickly than you could on your own, or using most other selling methods.

 

Sell your home by auction.
Selling your home via auction can be an effective way.

Auction Selling

Selling by auction can be a very effective way to get a good price for your property.  The key to a successful real estate auction sale is to advertise it vigorously, and allow enough time for a sufficient amount of potential buyers to learn about it.

There are 2 main types of auctions. Silent auctions or sealed auctions, and verbal auctions.

A silent  or sealed auction is where all of the bids are  kept secret or sealed.  None of the other bidders know what the other bidders have bid. Only the property owner, or designated person knows the results of the silent/sealed auction.

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HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development utilizes the silent/sealed auction to sell their properties.  They post the listing on the HUD website, and the MLS through their Asset Managers, and set a bid deadline date.

Any bids are placed online for the interested buyers through a HUD approved broker/agent anytime prior to the bid deadline date, and the home is awarded to the highest bidder on the first business day after the bid deadline date, assuming the highest bid is above HUD’s acceptable minimum bid.

The advantage of a silent/sealed auction is there is no auction company or auctioneer to have to pay a percentage of the selling price to.  Sometimes too, this type of auction will force prices higher, as the bidders may overbid to ensure they win the bid, and are awarded the home.

A verbal auction is the same as with most other auctions for cars, livestock, estate sales, some government auctions, and many other products, and commodities.

In a verbal auction, all of the bids are announced by the auctioneer, so the other bidders know immediately  what price they need to bid in order to either move the bid along, or win the property.

An auctioneer starts the bidding at a certain price, and takes bids until the bidding is exhausted.  The highest bidder is then awarded the home, assuming that the highest bid has met or exceeded any reserve price that may be set on the home.

The advantage of a verbal auction is that often a buying frenzy is created by the competitive atmosphere surrounding it.  This buying frenzy can drive prices up quickly, and at times, a higher price is realized for the home than the market says the home is worth, or what would have been realized using other methods of selling.

 

Sell your home straight to home builders
Sell your home direct to home builders.

Sell Straight to Investors/Builders

You have seen the ads, We Buy Ugly Houses, or We Pay Cash for Your Home, or any of dozens of others like it.  These are investors/rehabbers looking for deals that they can either flip and make a quick profit from, or fix up and rent out.

Most of these investor buyers pay cash, and they can usually close very quickly, so there are no banks, or other lenders involved to slow down the process.

You will likely have to discount your property enough to make the deal attractive to the investors, however.  If you have enough equity built in, or if you just need cash in a hurry, this can be a good way to go.

One other type of investor that I have had good selling experiences with are builders.  I was the listing agent for 2 different homes located in a nice, in-demand area.  The homes were older, and not very large, but would make nice starter homes for a young couple or a good down sizer home for an older person or couple.

I knew that a certain builder had purchased homes in the neighborhood, and had leveled the structures, and built larger, more upscale homes on the lots.

I found out who the builder was, contacted the builder company owner, and told her that I had homes for sale in the same area where they had built homes recently.

She was very interested, and ended up paying me full price for the homes. My buyer clients were both very happy, as I got them a top dollar price, and closed quickly.

I know the builder was also happy as she made a small fortune when she sold the homes that were built on the lots that I sold her, and I made nice commissions as the agent, so it was a win win win situation. Everybody was happy.

So, before you put your home on the market, you may want to contact the investors/builders in your area, or have your agent contact them,  and see if you can sell your home directly to them.

 

Selling your home to rental property owners.
You can sell direct to rental property owners.

Sell to Rental Property Owners

Rental property owners, also know as landlords, like to buy properties in markets that are depressed.  Depressed markets make it harder for would-be buyers to qualify for loans, as lenders have stricter standards based on properties not holding their values.

This condition also tends to push rental prices higher, as the would-be buyers become renters. With more renters, the supply of rentals goes down, bringing the demand for rentals up, along with rental prices

This combination of lower home sales prices, increased rental demand, and increased rental prices, presents a very appealing scenario for rental property owners/buyers.

If you happen to have a multi unit property such as a duplex, or a four plex, in a decent or better area, this would be better yet.

Even in a level, or slightly up market, if the home is offered at the right price, a landlord may still be interested in buying from you. It is surely worth a few phone calls to find out.

For Sale By Owner - FSBO
For Sale By Owner – FSBO

Sell your home yourself – For Sale By Owner By Owner- FSBO

A for sale by owner property or FSBO, prounced Fizz Bo, is a property that the homeowner puts on the market him or herself, without the professional help from a Realtor.

A small percentage of homeowners believe that they can cut out the real estate agent, and thus net more profit from the sale of their home by selling it themselves.  Approximately 5% of homeowners choose this route in an attempt to sell their home.

Although selling your home yourself is certainly an option for you, it can be an exercise in being penny wise, and pound foolish. You will have to take on all expenses of selling your home such as advertising, and signage which, if done right, can be expensive.

A Realtor will charge commissions of between 5%-7%, but can normally sell for a higher price, and sell your home much quicker than you can on your own.

A FSBO can only cover about 10% of the buying market, where as a home listed on the MLS through a realtor will bring in a whopping 90% of ready buyers.

You will also have to learn the ropes of real estate selling paperwork, and other legal matters, which can be overwhelming, and present liability problems to the uninformed.

There are also safety concerns, as well as many inconveniences of having to show your home whenever someone knocks on your door.

What are the best ways of selling your home?  These are some of the most effective ways.  Hopefully, your decision will be easier now than it was before reading this article.

You can go through Realtors/Brokers, sell at auction, either online or offline, sell direct to investors/builders,  sell direct to rental property owners, or go the do it yourself route with a For Sale By Owner – FSBO.

 

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Finding money to invest in real estate.

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Finding Money to Invest in Real Estate

 

Finding money to invest in real estate
There are good sources for money to invest in real estate.

Finding Money to Invest in Real Estate

Ok, so you want to invest in real estate, but you’re not as rich as Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet?  Don’t despair.  Finding money to invest in real estate is the key. There are many places to find money to invest in real estate.

Best place to start is with you.  All you need is good credit, a good job that you have been on for 2+ years, no bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions in the last 3 years, and a good debt to income ratio.

If you can’t currently meet this criteria, it should be your first priority to improve things, so you can soon qualify to get a loan.

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Plus, a healthy amount of ready cash to use as a down payment, closing costs, and make ready funds.  And, the home you want to buy should be in reasonably good condition for a lender to give you a loan on it.

If it needs work, which most investment properties do, it makes it that much more difficult to get a loan.

If you can meet all of this criteria, great, you are on your way to making a property buy, and you can hopefully parlay it into more, and more buys, if that is your desire.

If you can’t meet this criteria, don’t feel bad, you are not alone.  Many people can’t live up to these requirements, but still need a place to live, and perhaps would like to buy more real estate to use as an investment, or as a nest egg for the future.

We all know too, it is better to be an owner than a loaner, or renter, from a financial point of view.

Here are the 3 best ways to find the funds you need to help make your real estate investing dreams come true.

 

compania-1314974
Finding a partner can be a great solution to help you invest in real estate.

Find a Partner

Often times, a partner can bring to the table, what you are lacking.  They may have good credit, a line of credit with a bank, or another lending institution. Or they may even have cash, which everyone prefers.

You may have to provide a great deal on a property that you came across.  You may need to bring some sweat equity to the deal in the form of doing needed repairs, or providing materials to facilitate needed repairs.

You may have to coordinate everything involved in the repair, and  selling of the property. You may even have to give up a larger percentage of the profits to sweeten the deal enough for a partner to want to come on board with you.

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But, isn’t it better to make something than nothing?  Worst case scenario, is you are gaining experience in the real estate investing arena, and you will be that much more qualified, and more likely to be successful with your next deal.

I know general contractors that are great at doing the repairs and upgrades needed for investment properties. They align themselves with credit, or cash partners, and in exchange for doing all the improvements on the property, they receive a percentage of the profits when the home is sold.

I also know investors who partner with other investors to enable them to afford to buy and fix up nicer properties that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise, and as a result, realize a larger profit when the home is sold.

 

Private lenders can help you invest in real estate.
A private lender can provide the needed funds for your real estate investments.

Private Lenders (Investors)

Finding money to invest in real estate can be accomplished with a private lender. A private lender is anyone who is not a professional in the lending business.

They are normally wealthy individuals that have cash, retirement plans, home equity, lines of credit, or other liquid assets.

A private investor can realize a higher rate of return from doing a deal with a real estate investor, in most cases, than they can get from a bank.

Normally, the private lender will expect between an 8% – 16% return on their investment, or possibly a bit lower with some negotiation.   This private investor loan will be guaranteed, or secured by placing a lien on the home.

If you are known as reputable, honest, and competent, and agree to pay a nice return on investment,  you should have little trouble finding a private investor to help fund your deals.

 

going-green-pays-off-1236700
Hard money lenders are considered the best source for loans by rehabbers, and flippers.

Hard Money Lenders

Hard money lenders are companies whose primary focus is on providing loans for rehab, or residential flip deals.

Hard money lenders are considered by most rehabbers or flippers, to be the best lenders for their projects.

They provide high interest rate, short term loans, which usually include needed repair costs along with the loan.  10%-18% is the normal interest rate charged by hard money lenders.

Because the rehabber does not have to come up with any money, and the loan includes extra for repair costs, it is a very good deal for him.

Perhaps the best thing about hard money lenders, is that they care not about your credit or how much cash you have in the bank.  They only care about the deal that you bring to the table.

They will only lend however, on deals that make financial sense to them.  Of course, they use the home itself as security on the loan.

They will do the deal if they know there is enough profit in the deal, in the case that you default on the loan. That way, if need be,  they can take back the home, and resell it for a nice profit if you fail to pay back the loan.  This provides them additional incentive to make the loan.

People with money, rather it be private individuals, partners,  or hard money lenders, will always be open to making good profits. Your job is to find the deals.  Finding money to invest in real estate will be easier than you may think, if you find the great deals first, and know where to look.

 

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Real Estate Investment Methods

How to Invest in Real Estate

 

 

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Real Estate Investment Methods

Real Estate Investment Methods

Real estate investment methods.
Several real estate investment methods are favored by today’s investors.

 

There are many different real estate investment methods.  There are several methods that seem to be favored by most of today’s real estate investors.

I will cover these due to their relative simplicity, and relative ease to start, which will surely appeal to both the beginning investor, as well as the experienced investor.

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As I went over in a previous post, How to Invest in Real Estate, it is vital that you learn how to buy real estate properties as cheaply as possible.

Buying correctly, and for as little as possible is easily the most important step in becoming a successful real estate investor.  If you skimp, or fudge on this step, it will make successful investing that much more difficult.

Read books, or ebooks, watch videos, go to seminars, and spend money if you have to in order to become proficient at this most important aspect, of how to buy low.

You may have heard location, location, location, as the most important part of real estate investing, and, no doubt, location is very important, but if you buy low, low, low, it will give you the best chance of seeing a profit, and/or positive cash flow.

The methods to follow are all based on the presumption that you will be able to buy low, which will give you the best chance of being profitable.

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Buy and hold
Buy and hold is an effective real estate strategy.

Buy and Hold

This method called buy and hold, is utilized by many real estate investors, and has allowed a good percentage of people to make a great deal of money.

Buy and hold is simply the buying of properties, and holding them for extended periods of time to take advantage of an upturn in the real estate market.

The best time to utilize this is during a down market, when prices are low.  If you bought during the 2007-2015 time period in the US, for instance,  when the real estate bubble had burst due to the sub prime loan crisis, and you were able to secure a good deal, chances are  good that by holding your property, you are already in the black, or have seen some appreciation in your purchase.

The best way to take advantage of buy and hold, is to rent your property out.  There may be some repairs, and upgrades needed, and of course, this should be considered, and figured into the price of your purchase offer.

While the market is low, there is a rise in the amount of people that need to rent, as it is harder to qualify for loans.  Your renters can make your mortgage payments for you, and possibly give you some positive cash flow.  Worse case is you should recoup at least most of your mortgage from your rent, so your mortgage payments will be less.

During this period, you can also qualify for some tax advantages, as the interest on your mortgage loan is tax deductible.

The idea is to rent the property until the market moves up sufficiently to give you a good profit on your home buy, and have someone else, the renters, pay your mortgage for you while you are waiting for the market to improve.

Dealing with renters, as I’m sure you can imagine, is not always a cakewalk. You have to worry about being paid on time, keeping the condition of your property in good shape, collecting rents, and having needed repairs done, sometimes at very inopportune times, like a clogged toilet in the middle of the night, air conditioning going out on a hot summer night, or any of dozens of other possible unpleasant scenarios.

Not to mention fielding complaint calls and emails from unhappy renters.  There is also the chance of renting to someone that stops paying their rent for one reason or the other, despite your due diligence of having them checked out before you rent to them.

This could mean that you stop receiving your rent for extended periods, and force you to have to deal with removing the tenant from your property.

One solution to the renter problem is hiring a property management company to handle your rental properties for you.  Although this will greatly reduce the headaches associated with dealing with renters, it will also cost you a significant amount of your cash flow.

Generally speaking, it makes the most sense to employ a property management company if you have multiple properties to manage, or if you live out of town from where your investment properties are located.

Once the market moves up, you will then have the option to sell for a profit, or continue to hold and rent, and if you choose to continue to hold and rent, you can possibly even command higher rents for your units.

Buy and flip
Buy and flip is a very popular real estate investment strategy.

Buy and Flip

If you have interest in real estate investing at all, which likely you do if you are reading this article, you have seen many real estate gurus, on television,  possibly HGTV, on radio, in print, and also online that involve flipping real estate.

Flipping real estate means buying a property, and with or without repairs, putting it back up on the market to sell at a profit.  The idea for most of these flipping real estate gurus is to do this process quickly, so they can take the profits made from one flip, and buy another investment property, and flip again very quickly.

In most cases, especially for the sake of television, these properties that are purchased are in need of repair, and much of the program is devoted to what repairs are needed, the costs involved, how quickly the home can be put back on the market, and what profits, if any, are realized.

The ideal  scenario for any residential real estate investor flipper,  is to find a home that needs no repairs, can be bought well under market value, and put back on the market immediately to be sold at a nice profit.  These scenarios are rare, but they do occasionally happen.

The more common scenario is a home is available that needs some repairs, and upgades/updates, can be purchased somewhat under market value, and with some money, time, and effort, can be fixed up and put back on the market, and sold for a decent profit.

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The key to success with the buy and flip method is to know the real estate market that you are interested in buying in, and also knowing what repairs/upgrades are needed, and what the costs of these  repairs or upgrades are.

Once these numbers are known, the investor/buyer knows what price he can buy an investment property for, in order to ensure an acceptable profit.

You must know the costs of materials, and if you are not going to do the repairs yourself, you must know the costs of labor. It is also a very good idea to familiarize yourself with local codes, and restrictions, as these can also affect your costs, and time frames, and, if not followed, can cause major headaches.

Most of the successful folks in the buy and flip area, have a crew, or crews that do most, or all of the repair/upgrade work for them.  This allows the flipper the time freedom to find other deals, and they make more money as a result.

All that is needed for the flipper to do at this point is to oversee the work being done, and preparing to put the property on the market for sale.

I personally know investor/flippers that do the repair work themselves, and investor/flippers that use crews to do the work for them.  Some investor/flippers have other jobs, and use this method while maintaining their careers.

 

REIT or Real Estate Investment Trust
REITs or Real Estate Investment Trusts are a hands off way to invest in real estate.

Real Estate Investment Trust – REIT’s

Ok, so you don’t want deal with the risks, headaches, and time involved with being a conventional real estate investor that buys and holds, or buys and flips properties.

But you would like to participate in the potentially lucrative real estate market for it’s appreciation, and cash flow potential. I hear you.  Your answer may be to buy REIT’s, or Real Estate Investment Trusts.

What is a REIT? A REIT is a corporation or trust that uses the money from it’s investors to buy and operate real estate investments, in the form of income producing properties.

REIT’s are traded, bought and sold, on the main stock market exchanges, the same way you would trade any other publicly traded stock.  In order to maintain it’s status as a REIT, a corporation must pay out 90% of it’s profits that are taxable, in dividend form.

REIT’s avoid paying corporate income tax with this 90% payout.  A corportation that pays out less than 90% of it’s profits in the form of dividends, would be taxed on these profits, and then have the decision as to what amount of their profits to pay out as dividends, if at all.

Many REIT’s pay a healthy dividend, and this dividend can be reinvested in the stock, in many cases, or received by the owner in the form of a cash dividend.

If you are someone at, or near retirement age, or anyone that likes the idea of another income stream, REIT’s may be just what you are looking for. REITs in my opinion, are one of the very best real estate investment methods.

If you are not in a hurry to collect your REIT dividends, many REIT’s allow for you to reinvest your dividend payout in the form of more stock, thus giving you the opportunity of a perhaps larger dividend payout down the road.

Or, you may be able to take a partial dividend payout, and leave the rest of the dividend to invest in more stock.

The downside of owning REIT’s, just like owning any other stock, is they are subject to price fluctuations, and also fluctuations in the amount of their dividends.  Also, these dividends are normally paid out quarterly, which means you would see your REIT income only every 3 months.

In order to become proficient at investing in REIT’s, you should become familiar with the workings, and risks of the stock market. In addition, you should also become familiar with the fundamentals of the real estate market as to how it is affected by national economic factors, and conditions, as opposed to knowing the local real estate markets from a buy and hold, or buy and flip perspective.

There are many more real estate investment methods, but these are the most common.  Participating in this potentially lucrative market has it’s challenges, but it also has great rewards.

Make more money part time with real estate than you make full time on your job!

How to Invest in Real Estate

Finding Money to Invest in Real Estate

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How to Invest in Real Estate

How to Invest in Real Estate

 

If you are interested in real estate investing at all, I’m sure you have seen, and possibly bought how to books, videos, or courses on the subject of how to invest in real estate. Learning how to invest in real estate also means learning when to invest in real estate.

guru
All the real estate gurus teach a buy low strategy.

There are many different ways to go about investing in real estate. There is, however, one lesson that all the gurus teach, and advocate.   You have to learn how to buy low, or at least low enough to make your real estate investment plan be profitable.

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Learning how to find properties at the right price is easily the most important aspect of real estate investing. If you don’t do this step correctly, it will make it much more difficult, if not impossible to make money trying to fix and flip the home, or trying to fix and rent the home, or any other method you may choose to use.

This is true in all areas of investing, and business, but do to the large amount of money that is usually put at risk in real estate investing, it is even more critical to buy low.

numbers
You have to know your numbers.

You have to know your numbers well enough to know what price you can buy a given property for in order to make a profit you are happy with. 

Of course, depending on whether you intend to buy and flip, buy and rent, or buy and live in, will determine how much leeway you have when you make your purchase decisions.

By knowing your numbers, I mean that if you intend to buy, fix up, and sell or flip your investment, you must know what comparable homes in the area have recently sold for.  You need to know what repairs, and upgrades are needed, and how much it will cost you to do the repairs, and upgrades.

You also need to know what real estate commissions, and closing costs will be. At this point you can figure in how much you want to make in profit, then deduct all of your costs( you may want to add another 5%-10% to your costs for unforeseen expenses), and this will give you an amount you can purchase the home for.

The better you know your numbers, and account for all possible expenses, the better chance you have of making a profit you can live with. 

One mistake I have seen investors make, is they buy the home based on what the minimum amount of expenses they expect to have is, and the maximum amount they think they can sell or rent the home for,  instead of on the maximum possible amount of expenses, and a reasonable amount that they can sell or rent the home for.

Many real estate investors use the 70% rule. Never pay more than 70% of the value of the home that you intend to flip.

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If your numbers don’t make sense, don’t buy the home.  This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many times I have seen this happen where buys are made based on dreams, instead of reality.

.You may be able to get away with this in a rising market, but in a down or level market, you could go broke very quickly if you haven’t done your homework, pun intended.

If you are new to the real estate investing game, I highly recommend that you learn as much as you can about this potentially lucrative area first, before you put your hard earned money at risk.

Knowledge is power.  It’s true that you can make a lot of money, but you can also lose your money, if you don’t know exactly what you are doing.

Knowledge is power
Knowledge of real estate investing is power.

I have heard that as many as 97% of the millionaires in the USA have made their money in real estate.  But you can bet that these successful folks invested time and effort, and probably money in learning, before they invested their capital, and started earning.

Depending on the economy, and the state of the real estate market, will have a large affect on how your investing plays out.

For instance, in a down market, such as we in the US have had for the last 8 years or so, all during the Obama Administration, there have been many properties available to buy, and a lot of foreclosures available for purchase.

Unfortunately, during a down economy, many people lose their jobs, and/or can’t find adequate work, and thus have trouble making their mortgage payments.

Although this is bad for some homeowners,  it is good for investors.  This means excess foreclosure inventory, which also means lower asking prices, and more homes for sale to select from.

Since I believe that the foreclosure market offers you the best chance to find a bargain property, I also believe you should focus your  attention on how to buy foreclosures.

Can you find bargains in the privately owned real estate market? Yes, absolutely. But, these are harder to find, and sometimes dealing with homeowners can be a headache, and take longer to close than with a foreclosure.

One of the misconceptions that I come across, is that some people think only certain people are allowed to buy foreclosures. This is not the case.  ANYONE can buy a foreclosure.  This means anyone can buy  HUD’s, Fannie Mae’s, Freddie Macs, Bank Owned, or REO’s, VA’s, and USDA’s.

Anyone can buy a foreclosure.
Most anyone of legal age can buy a foreclosure.

Another common misconception is the idea that you have to qualify for specific financing in order to buy a foreclosure, especially government foreclosures. This too is simply not the case.

It’s true that you still have to qualify for a loan, just like you would for a privately owned home, but you don’t, in most cases, have to do anything more to buy a foreclosure. In fact, in some cases, like with HUD, special incentives are given, like $100 down, or with USDA‘, like 100% financing(nothing down),  makes it even easier to buy a foreclosure. 

There are certain loan options like FHA for HUD homes, and USDA loans for USDA’s, that are available to you, but you can also use conventional loans, in most cases to buy these foreclosures, and of course, cash is always accepted as a purchase option.

So, learn the best ways to buy foreclosures, do your due diligence before you buy your next home, and you will ensure that your real estate investing will be profitable.

Learning how to invest in real estate summed up means, the more you learn, the more you earn.

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To learn more about  how to buy HUD homes, click here.

To learn more about how to buy other government foreclosures, click here.

To learn more about how to buy bank owned or REO foreclosures, click here.

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Home Inspection Checklist

Home Inspection Checklist

home-inspection-checklist
A professional home inspection can save you money, and headaches.

 

Do you have a home inspection checklist? When you are in the market for a home, whether you are an investor, or looking to live in a home,  one of the most important considerations is the overall condition of the home you are interested in. If it isn’t one of your most important considerations, it should be.

A home/property may look great to the naked eye, but sometimes evil lurks beneath. You should have your home inspection checklist close by, or at least in mind.

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When you are looking at homes with your agent, you won’t be able to have a full inspection done.

However, if you really like a home, and are thinking of submitting an offer on it, you might want to consider having a home inspector or someone else with a lot of related experience, take a look at the home.

He won’t be able to do a full inspection, but he can detect many issues simply by looking at the home.

His trained eye can spot many problems, and areas of concern that most others can’t.

This information can help you to make an offer based on what repairs are needed, or if you don’t want to deal with expensive, time consuming repairs,  by allowing you to pass on the home altogether.

If you want to go forward with an offer, most real estate contracts allow for 10 days from date of accepted contract to have a full inspection performed, by a licensed home inspector.

Some contracts, such as the HUD contract, allow for 15 days to have a home inspection done.  In most cases, the results of the inspection will provide you with the ability to change your offer.

Your offer can be changed by your asking for needed repairs or replacements to be done. Or by a reduction in the price of the home. Or by some other consideration.

Also, if the inspection results are much worse than you expected,  this will allow you to back out of the purchase altogether.

These are the most important aspects of a home that should be in acceptable condition, or good working order. If any of these need repair or replacement, you may be looking at a large expense, not to mention time, and inconvenience.   

foundation-structure
A home’s foundation, and structure must be in good condition.

Foundation/Structure The foundation, and structure are the most important components of a home that must be in good condition  You want to look carefully at basement walls for cracks, especially horizontal cracks.

If you see any significant horizontal cracks in the foundation, run, don’t walk away from the deal.  If there are vertical cracks, this is not a good sign, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the foundation is bad.

There are many good foundation repair companies that can repair and seal these cracks, and make the home solid again.

However, some of these repairs can be expensive, and you should take that into consideration if you like the home enough to make an offer.

Check for water, and mold in the basement. If there is a lot of water in the basement, this could indicate a serious problem.

Sometimes however, like in the case of HUD homes, the electricity will be turned off, and, as a result the sump pump will not be operational, which can cause a temporary state of water in the lower level.

This can also cause some mold to appear on the walls and other surfaces, and may not be an issue, if the water is only temporary.

If the electric has not been turned off for any extended length of time, and you see a lot of water in the basement, I would recommend crossing that home off your list.

You should also check the structure of the home to be sure that it is straight and flat. You can do this be looking at the exterior walls for any bowing or leaning.

If you encounter bowing or leaning, it’s time to go on to the next home, and cross this one off your list.

 

roof
A careful inspection of the roof is important.

Roof

The evaluation of the roof is designed to  determine if conditions exist which may cause the roof to leak.  It may be difficult from ground level to see the true condition of the roof shingles.

If the shingles are bare looking, or if the shingle corners are bowing upward, this usually means that the roof is older, and it may be close to needing to be replaced.

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If at all possible,  go up to the attic, or the highest accessible room, and check carefully for any discoloration, or holes. If you see anything that isn’t uniform with the rest of the ceiling, it may indicate a problem with the roof.

Of course, if you come across any signs of leakage, this too is a red flag that the roof may be bad, or older.

 

home-exterior
An exterior inspection can reveal hidden issues.

Exterior

Check to make sure that siding, trim/fascia/soffits, doors, windows, hose faucets, electrical cables, and any other electrical is in acceptable condition.  Make sure power lines are not near or touching trees, or tree limbs. DO NOT under any circumstances, touch anything to do with electric!  Simply note it’s condition, but DON’T TOUCH!

 

landscaped-lawn
Proper grounds and drainage provide a safe, and dry home.

Grounds and Drainage

The objective of the grounds and drainage inspection is to ensure that water drains away from the home/structure, and all steps/surfaces are safe, and secure.

Grading, gutters, and downspouts, and even trees and shrubs should be checked to be sure they are designed to drain water away from the house/structure.

Walks, and steps, porches, decks, patios, and driveways should be checked to ensure that they are level, safe, and secure.

If the property has retaining walls, these should also be checked to be sure they are safe, secure, and in good repair.

 

heating-and-ac
Heating and cooling repairs can be a big expense if not working properly.

Heating & Cooling

The heating operation, and cooling operation are checked. If you are viewing a home in the summer, and the home is nice and cool, odds are good that this system is functioning properly.  Same in winter, if home is warm, this is a good indication that this system is ok.

Inspectors also check the system back up, the exhaust system, the distribution, the thermostat, gas piping, heat exchanger, humidifier, and filter.

You can usually tell if a system is older if you encounter rusting, paint chipping, color fading,  odd noises, or other obvious wear and tear.  Even if a system passes inspection, if it is showing signs of wear, and tear, it may only have a short life remaining.

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dripping-tap
Plumbing should be tested with the water on, as well as off.

Plumbing

It is not always easy to determine a plumbing systems condition by merely looking at it.  It is always best to test it with the water on, and the resulting pressure it causes.

You can check the age of the water heater by looking at the decals/paperwork on the side of the water heater, as well as by simply looking at it.  If a water heater is older, and had a lot of use, it is normally obvious to the naked eye.

Perhaps more important than the condition of the water heater, is the condition/age of the temperature and pressure relief valve.  If it is a gas water heater, the thermocouple should always be in good working order.

This device detects heat from the flame, and if the flame is off, it automatically shuts off the gas.  Gas applicances, and gas operation in the home is normally inspected by the local gas company.

Other aspects of the plumbing system that are inspected are the supply pipes, waste/vent pipes, functional water flow, functional waste drain, well system(if applicable), and septic system(if applicable)

 

electric
Electrical is another important system. Leave it to the pros.

Electrical System

The most important, and obvious thing about checking the electrical system, is loose, cut, or frayed  wires, especially at the main breaker box.   If you see any of these things, DO NOT touch them.   Simply make a note of this, either mentally or on paper, and/or be sure you tell your Realtor.

This is truly an area that should be left to the professionals, but you can determine possible problems by what you see.

Inspectors check: wiring at the main box,  all other wiring, proper grounding, GFCI outlets, amperage, and electrical appliances(if possible)

 

Interior Rooms

All interior rooms are inspected to make sure walls, ceilings, floors, surfaces, cabinets, fixtures, and appliances are safe, secure, and in acceptable condition.

 

garage
Garages today can contain many amenities, and should be checked carefully.

Garage/Carport

Exterior: Roof, walls, eaves, electrical, and gutters are checked for safety, security, and conditon.

Interior: Walls/Ceiling/Floors, Firewall/Fire doors(if applicable), doors, and windows, garage doors, garage openers, electrical, and heating/cooling are all checked for safety, security, and condition.

 

This home inspection checklist will give you a general  idea of some of what home inspectors look at, and for during a home inspection.

You can utilize this list to assist you in evaluating the condition of homes that you are viewing, and help you determine if you want to offer on a home, and if so, how much to offer.

This checklist is not designed to replace the services of a professional home inspection, and is to be used for informational purposes only.

I highly recommend using the services of a professional home inspector once your offer has been accepted in order to receive a thorough, and complete inspection of a property.

Depending on the type of home you are offering on, the results of your home inspection may enable you to ask for repairs, or monetary compensation, or to even possibly back out of the deal altogether.

Your investment in a home is well worth the investment in a home inspection.

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How to Sell Your Home Quickly and For Top Dollar

How to Sell Your Home Quickly and For Top Dollar

Why do some people seem to be able to sell their homes in no time, and get more money than others in the neighborhood? It may be very important for you to know how to sell your home quickly and for top dollar.

There are some important steps that if taken, can greatly increase your odds of selling your home fast, and for more money than you might have thought.

There are several reasons why someone would want to know how to sell your home quickly, and for top dollar.  Job tranfer, job loss, divorce, death in family, the need for quick cash.  or just to be done quickly with the entire selling process, which can be tiresome, and time consuming.

Whatever your reasons, it is possible to sell quickly, and get top money, if you follow these steps.

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realtors
A good realtor is worth their weight in gold.

1. Find and Hire a Good Realtor

If you really want to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, this is your most important step. Despite what you may have been told about how much money you can save by selling your house yourself, it is absolutely imperative that you find, and hire a good real estate broker, or real estate agent to list your home for sale.

The normal real estate sales commissions run between 6%-7%, but you may be able to negotiate an even lower rate. 

Realtors know how to contact the masses that your home is for sale. They put your home in the MLS, Multiple Listing Service.

They contact their network of other agents, and professionals in the real estate business, or related businesses.

They can tell you exactly what your home is worth based on running comparables to your home.  They can advise you on the best ways to prepare your home, and property for sale.

They can advise you on how to price your home in order to sell it quickly, and get you the most money possible.

 

Tell everyone that your home is for sale.
Tell everyone that your home is for sale.

2. Tell everyone you know that your home is for sale. 

Tell friends, family, your Facebook page, if you have one, other social media outlets, your co workers, and anyone else you come across, that your home is for sale.

Everyone is a potential prospect, and even if they aren’t in the market, they may know of someone that is. You may even tell people that if they find someone that ends up buying your home, that you will give them $100 or whatever amount you think is fair.

This extra motivation may make a big difference in your getting results.  Although your Realtor will be doing the heavy lifting of finding buyers, your network could bring in some very good prospects.

 

updated-kitchen
Updated kitchens, and updated master bathrooms sell homes.

3. Update Your Kitchen, and Master Bath

It is no secret among Realtors that kitchens, and master bathrooms sell homes.  If you don’t have a master bathroom, you should consider updating your main bathroom.

It has been my experience as a Realtor, that sellers that update their kitchens, and/or master baths/main baths, will, at the very least recover the money they spend for the updates, and usually will realize a higher price for their homes, as a result.

If you had to pick one room to update, it would be the kitchen.  Cabinet space, and counter space are important considerations, as well as modern appliances, center islands, dual kitchen sinks with expandable faucets, breakfast bars, and spacious pantries.

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open-room
Open floor plans are in demand today.

4. Open Up the Interior Space

If your home already has an open floor plan, you can skip this step. If not, and you have an older home with a more conventional floor plan, you should consider opening it up.

Many buyers today will not even look at homes that don’t have at least a partially open floor plan. Many interior walls are not load bearing, and can be eliminated fairly easily by experienced contractors.

This will provide a more modern look to the home, can make it look larger than before, and take away that suffocating feeling that too many walls can cause.

Having a kitchen that opens to a breakfast room,  living room, or other space is perhaps the most important part of the home to be opened up based on buyer feedback.

Removing walls to open up interior space is normally not an inexpensive job, but, it is,  more times than not, money that can be recouped in the price realized for the sale of the home.

 

paint and repairs will help your house sell
Often, just cosmetic upgrades can make your house sell.

5. Paint and Repair

As a Realtor, I have worked with many buyer clients. One of the first questions I ask them before we start to look at homes is, do you mind if the house needs a little work, or do you want ‘move in ready’ condition?

Almost every answer I get is, we don’t mind if it needs some work, as long as it isn’t anything major. Cosmetics are ok, paint, carpet, wallpaper, landscaping, etc.  However, the home they end up buying, in most cases is ‘move in ready’.

Most people cannot see past dirty, or outdated walls, worn carpet, ugly wallpaper, stained siding, or neglected lawns.  People love ‘move in ready’, and expect to pay a premium for it! 

So, if your home needs paint, paint it. If it needs new carpet, carpet it. If your hardwoods need to be refinished, refinish them. If your yard needs to be cleaned up, bushes trimmed, etc., do it.  If doors, cabinets, decks, steps, or any other permanent part of your home needs repair, repair it.

Buyers, despite what they may say, picture themselves in the home they want to buy. If they can open the front door, open their suitcase, and restart their lives, that is what they want to do.

 

ac-heat
Make sure your home’s systems are in good repair.

6. Your Home’s Systems Should Be Functional

Another important requirement how to sell your home quickly, and for top dollar: Your home’s systems are air conditioning, heating, ventilation, roofing, electrical,, and plumbing. Any buyer with a lick of sense will have an inspection done on the home they want to buy once the offer has been accepted, and make the offer contingent on the inspection.

The purpose of the inspection is to primarily check to make sure these systems, are functional, have good life left in them, and safe.

If the inspection reveals that one of the major systems of the home needs a major repair or replacement, it could easily cause the buyer to demand this be fixed, demand that the price is reduced to compensate, or even to withdraw completely.

I have seen some deals fall through because the buyer, and seller could not come to an agreement on what the inspection revealed about the home’s systems, and how to resolve the situation.

These systems don’t usually need to be updated, as long as they meet local codes, are functional, and serve their purpose today, and in the foreseeable future.

However, if it is apparent, that one or more of these systems is on their last leg, it is a good idea, if finances allow, to upgrade/replace these before the home is put on the market, or at least begin the process of replacement/upgrade while the home is for sale, with the promise that it will be completed before the new owner takes occupancy.

It is also a good idea to make this known to the buyers that this system will be upgraded by the time they move in.

 

clean-home
Clean and declutter your home for a quick sale.

7. Clean and Declutter

The easiest, and cheapest thing you can do to improve your chances of selling your home quickly, and for a good price, is to clean, and get rid of clutter.

I have shown homes to buyers that were so dirty, and cluttered, that I was embarrassed to even show them.  It made me look bad, the listing agent look really bad, and made the homeowner look worse still.

First impressions are so important, and if your home is unkempt, or cluttered, or smells bad because of pets, or body odor, or any other reason, your chances of getting an offer go way down.

It is understandable that some sellers cannot afford to upgrade, or update the interior of the home, but anyone can afford to clean, and declutter their house,  and property.

By decluttering, I mean making sure that kitchen counters are free of excess papers, and anything that would not normally be in a well organized kitchen.

Pull down unattractive wall hangings, remove items from furniture, and tables that don’t belong there. Take down letters, and attachments from refrigerators. The more you can make your home look like it has been staged, the better.

It is also important to make sure your lawn is cut and trimmed. Trim bushes, and trees. Rake leaves if needed. Clean siding, and windows.  Curb appeal is vital, and it doesn’t take a lot to make that happen.

Invest some time, and money in making your home look as updated, and appealing as possible, and with the help of a good Realtor,  you will greatly increase your chances of receiving high offers in no time flat.

Now that you know how to sell your home quickly, and for top dollar, it’s time to put into practice what you’ve learned.

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