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3 Closing Costs That Most Buyers Forget to Factor in – and What You Can Expect to Pay
By Peta-Gay
September 2, 2015

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you probably have your deposit and monthly mortgage charges in a spreadsheet, along with a chart of your other expenses and your monthly income. But when it comes to buying a home, there are lots of different costs that will come into play – and it’s easy to forget something. When you’re preparing to close on your new home, make sure you consider these three closing costs that most buyers forget.

Home Inspection Fees: A Small Charge For Peace Of Mind

Most home purchase agreements are contingent upon a successful home inspection – and if you’re planning to buy a home, you should definitely have it inspected before you buy it. However, home inspectors don’t work for free, and you’ll have to pay a home inspector for a thorough evaluation of the premises.

Home inspection fees depend on the kind of property you’re buying, and can vary depending on your location. For a condo unit, you’ll only need to pay about $250, but a single-family home might cost up to $500. Luxury properties are often more expensive, sometimes running as high as $1,500.

Private Mortgage Insurance: Obligatory With Small Down Payments

If you’re only planning to make the minimum down payment on your home, you’ll need to buy mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance protects the lender in the event that you default on your loan. This is an added cost that your lender pays, and in general, almost every lender will pass the cost on to you. 

You can pay for your mortgage insurance in one large payment, or you can add it to your monthly mortgage payments. Note that if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price, you’re legally required to buy mortgage insurance.

Lender Fees: All Sorts Of Charges On Top Of Your Mortgage

One large, catch-all category of closing costs that buyers often forget is lender fees.  Lender fees are fees that your mortgage lender will charge you in order to recoup their costs and turn a profit. These include appraisal fees, credit report fees, processing and application fees, and administration fees for underwriting.

These fees can range depending on the lender, but in many cases they exceed $3,000. You’ll want to budget about $3,500 to $5,000 to be safe.

Buying a house is a major undertaking, and there are lots of ways that the process could go awry. But a real estate professional can help you navigate the industry and get the home you’ve always wanted without any issues. Contact your local real estate expert to learn more.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

3 Handy Tips That Will Prevent Serious Stress when Buying and Selling a Home at the Same Time
By Peta-Gay
September 3, 2015

If you’re in the process of simultaneously buying and selling a home, you may be in for the most stressful experience of your life. One UK-based real estate survey of over two thousand people found that buying and selling a house is more stressful than divorce, bankruptcy, a death in the family, becoming a parent for the first time, and even planning a wedding!

It’s not easy, but staying calm will help you to plan for your upcoming home purchase and sale and make the process easier. So how can you avoid the stress? Here are three strategies that will keep you calm, no matter what may happen.

Have A Thorough Plan In Place…

Much of the stress that you’ll experience will probably be the result of poor planning. You may feel stressed if you don’t have enough time to move or if you have to pay mortgages on two homes because your old home isn’t selling fast enough.

Before you get too far into the buying and selling process, talk with a real estate agent and ensure you have a solid plan in place for how you’ll manage buying and selling at the same time. Leave a time and expense buffer for unexpected complications – even if nothing goes wrong, it’s still nice to know you have some room to work with.

…But Be Ready To Improvise If Things Go Sideways

There are a number of ways that buying and selling at the same time might result in complications. Poor timing might mean you need to move out before you have a home to move into, or it might mean you don’t have the money for your new home if your old home hasn’t sold. Be prepared to rent a hotel room, take out a short-term loan, or move your belongings into storage if the sale doesn’t go according to plan.

Talk Out Your Problems With Loved Ones

In times of stress, it’s helpful to turn to friends and family for a helping hand. Studies have shown that having a strong social support network can mitigate the effects of stress, and even the Mayo Clinic suggests reaching out to loved ones when you feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for emotional support, and whenever you have an opportunity to socialize, take it – you’ll find it easier to handle stress after a fun night out with friends.

Buying and selling a home at the same time is bound to be stressful, but an experienced real estate agent can minimize the agony. Call a real estate agent near you to learn how you can successfully buy and sell a home at the same time.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Buying an Investment Property? 3 Key Home Features That Will Help Ensure You Turn a Profit
By Peta-Gay
September 4, 2015

If you’re entering the real estate investment market for the first time, you’re embarking on a great adventure – and with a solid plan, you can turn a tidy profit on your investment.

The key to a successful real estate investment is choosing the right property. A great property will reap dividends for years to come. Look for these three features in your next investment property and you’ll have no trouble finding one that turns a profit.

Location: More Important Than You Think

The location of your investment property will be critical in determining how much you earn on it and how long you’re able to keep tenants. And as the saying goes, you can change the color of the walls, you can change the type of flooring, and you can change the layout of the home, but you can’t change the location. So before you do anything else, make sure your new investment property is in a good location.

High cash flow investment properties tend to share certain location characteristics. They tend to be in neighborhoods with great schools and great amenities like pools, parks, movie theaters, and public transit. They also tend to be in an area with quiet, low-traffic, well-kept streets. Great neighborhoods have a low crime rate and don’t mix housing types.

Average Rent Price & Vacancy Rate: Look For Marketability

Aside from local amenities, you’ll also want to consider the average vacancy rate and rent price in your neighborhood. If you can’t cover your costs by charging the neighborhood’s average rent, then the home is a poor investment.

Keep an eye on vacancies in the neighborhood. If there are a high number of vacancies in the area, it could mean that the area’s rental market is seasonal or that renters are no longer interested in it. A low-vacancy area will allow you to charge more rent, and you’ll be more likely to find renters.

Floor Plan: Know The Trends And Buy Accordingly

There are a lot of things you can change if you don’t like your home, but the floor plan is a challenge to rearrange. That means in order to make your property competitive on the market, you’ll want to choose a property with a modern floor plan. Watch the trends and buy a home with a floor plan that’s in demand – you’ll have an easier time finding tenants.

Buying an investment property is a great choice for smart investors, but it’s important that you choose a property that will turn a profit. An experienced real estate agent can help you find a great new investment property that tenants will love. Contact your local real estate professional to learn more about qualifying investment properties.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

From Big to Small: How to Downsize from a Large House to a Smaller, More Efficient Home
By Peta-Gay
September 8, 2015

If you’re moving from a large home into a smaller house or condo, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying a lower heating bill and not having to do as much cleaning. But before you move, you’ll want to take certain precautions to ensure that you’re not overwhelmed.

A smaller home won’t have as much room for your belongings, which means you may need to get creative. Here’s how you can downsize without losing your mind.

Decide What You’re Going To Keep

Before you do anything else, choose which of your belongings are coming with you. Unless you’ve habitually been getting rid of things you no longer need over the years, chances are you have a large stash of things you’ll never use again. That’s the kind of clutter you’ll need to eliminate before moving into a smaller home.

The obvious exceptions would be anything of significant sentimental or monetary value, but you’ll want to get rid of lots of your everyday objects – for instance, there’s no reason why you need three soup ladles. Having trouble deciding what to throw out? Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If you can’t remember the last time you used it, you probably don’t need it.

Have Anything In Storage? Find A Storage Solution Now

Most homeowners nowadays have the luxury of large storage spaces like basements or attics – but if you’re moving into a condo or a small starter home, storage will be at a premium. And that means anything stored in your basement, garage, or attic will probably need to find a new home. You’ll want to look for a storage solution earlier rather than later.

Perhaps you could rent a storage locker in your neighborhood, or let children or relatives hold onto your belongings until you decide what to do with them.

On Your Moving Day: Move Large Items First, And Put Away Stored Items Before Anything Else

When the day comes for you to move into your new home, you’ll want to try to find the best configuration for the space right away – before your new home is filled with boxes stacked six feet high. Before you do anything else, move your furniture and other large items into the space first, and get them set up so they’re out of the way.

Once all of your boxes are in your new home, put storage items away before anything else – it’ll help you avoid unnecessary stress and sorting later.

Downsizing can be stressful, but with a solid plan and a great real estate agent, you can find a smaller home and move in without issues. Call your trusted real estate professional for more great tips on streamlining the moving process.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com

Going Low: How to Submit an Offer Below the Asking Price Without Spooking the Seller
By Peta-Gay
September 9, 2015

You’ve found it: A large new home for your family. It’s in the area of the city that you love, with the perfect architectural style and lots of room for entertaining guests. It would have been perfect for you, but there’s only one problem – you’re not quite ready to pay the price the seller is asking for.  You’ll have to put in an offer below the seller’s asking price – a risky move.

Although you will be rolling the dice with an offer below asking price, there are ways that you can increase the likelihood that your offer will be successful. Before you submit your offer, use these three strategies to make it more appealing.

Work Out Other Terms In The Seller’s Favor 

If you’re going to ask for a lower selling price, it helps to show that you’re willing to compromise on other terms – that way, you come across as a reasonable human being and not a bargain hunter. By offering to give the seller the better deal on other terms, you’re showing that you want to close a sale – and the seller will see you making an effort to come to an agreement and respond in kind.

There are several ways to do this. When you submit your offer, see if you can negotiate an arrangement that has you paying the closing costs or a closing date that works better for the seller. Or, offer to make the down payment in cash or give the seller a larger deposit. 

Arm Yourself With Facts To Make Your Case

If the home you want to buy is priced well above fair market value, you can easily use that to your advantage and turn it into a benefit for the seller. First, you’ll want to look up property values for similar homes in the area. You should also investigate how long it takes homes in that area to sell and the difference between the average asking and average selling price in the area.

If you can show the seller that their asking price is above their neighborhood’s average sale price or that their home has been on the market longer than the average home (or both), then you can make a strong case for a lower offer.

Submitting an offer below asking price can work, but it’s not something that should simply be done on a whim. It takes careful planning and a great strategy to actually win a bid if you’re coming in below asking price. Contact a trusted real estate professional near you to learn more about how to submit a below-asking-price offer.

About the Blogger - Peta-Gay Lewis, MRP is Owner and CEO of Property Locators, LLC™. She is a licensed REALTOR in DC, MD, and VA with Douglas Realty, LLC (8096 Edwin Raynor Blvd Suite C Pasadena, MD 21122). Her contact information is 202 683-0158 (c), 410 255-3690 (o) or agent@propertylocatorsllc.com