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Tips for Buying a Home in a Hurry!

by Tucker Robbins


Sometimes your circumstances change, and you find yourself needing to buy a home ASAP!  In the past, you’ve looked at houses for a month online before you start actively looking, taking your time to find an agent.  Now, however, your new job needs you as soon as you can get there, but how quickly can you buy a new house?  Faster than you think if you follow these tips!
 

 

  • - Find a buyers agent that has a reputation for handling sales efficiently.  You want someone who understands your need to buy quickly, but who will also make sure you’re not making huge mistakes in the process. 
     

  • - Make sure your credit score is in good standing, and gather all paperwork necessary for the lender:  tax returns from past years, current pay stubs, bank statements, documentation for rent payments if you’re a renter, gift letter if someone is gifting part of the down payment, and proof of any assets you may have. 
     

  • - Don’t just get pre-qualified for a mortgage--get pre-approved.  This way, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and when you make an offer, the seller will be certain you are serious about buying the house. 
     

  • - You might have to forgo the perfect house dreams, but don’t sacrifice your must-haves.  That said, not being extremely picky with what you want in a house will see your success a few steps closer.   
     

  • - When you talk to your agent, ask them to look for homes that have been on the market for a while.  This may give you some leeway in the offer process because the seller is likely somewhat anxious to sell. 
     

  • - If you have any equity in the home you will be moving from, and you don’t want to lease or rent it, selling as quickly as you are able will give you a head start on the purchase of a new home. 
     
     

  • - Be prepared to put your belongings in storage if you do sell before you buy, and talk to friends or relatives about staying with them temporarily. 
     

  • - You’ll want a transaction without a lot of contingencies so there isn’t a lot of time-consuming negotiating, but be careful about what you are willing to let go to buy the property.   
     

  • - Don’t go AWOL during the process--sure you’ll be busy getting packed up and prepping for a move, but you need to be available to your agent so no time is wasted.   

 

The best tip is to get started as soon as you know you have to move--the more time you have to take care of buying a new home, the better the outcome will be, saving you time, money, and future headaches.   

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.  

 

Photo credit: moneyunder30.com

Popular Home Styles Defined

by Tucker Robbins


When you’re new to house-hunting and begin reading house descriptions, you may not understand the difference in a ranch, Tudor or a Craftsman style.  These eight most common architectural types will help you not feel so overwhelmed while going through your
 to-see list: 

 

  • Popular in the 1930s was the Arts and Crafts, or Craftsman, house.  Known by their low-pitched roof, front porch with tapered columns, the interiors of this type of home features lots of woodwork and built ins. 
     

  • Cape Cod-style homes are rectangular in shape, usually with the front door in the center of the front of the home, shuttered windows on either side of the front door and gable ends.  Traditional structures are one and a half stories, with living, sleeping and dining rooms all divided with walls.
      
     

  • Colonial houses are the predecessor of the Cape Cod, and they are similar in shape, style, and interior.  The biggest difference between the two is the Colonial’s second story was a full story, versus the Cape Cod’s half-story.   
     

  • A home that is described as Contemporary should be just that--a house of “now.”  Think of a contemporary home as having Colonial, Ranch or other architectural characteristics, just with an updated look. 
     

  • As times changed during the 1930s-60s, Mid-Century Modern-style houses began to make an impression using sleek straight lines, asymmetrical form and basic materials like glass, concrete, and metal.   
     

  • Ranch-style homes were a popular architectural style in the US during the post-World War II years through the 1970s.  The one-story form was usually low on the ground, with mixed exterior siding and attached garage.   
     

  • Looking like something from a fairy tale, Tudor homes featured curved rooflines and doorways, timbered or half-timbered gables filled with mason work or shingles, decorated windows, and cross-gables on the front exterior.  
     

  • The Victorian era brought romance and frills, and the homes of that period are no different.  A Victorian-style home will normally have a steeped-pitch roof, gabled windows, decorative woodwork, bay windows, and wide front porch.  

 

REALTOR® Magazine offers a guide to many other house styles, complete with images of the basic look of each type and brief description.  Once you’re familiar with these terms and the houses they describe, you’ll feel more confident as you search listings, looking for your new home. 
 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: trulia

Making an Offer is a Process

by Tucker Robbins


While you’re on the house hunt, every property you see just might be “the one.”  It’s a good idea to learn the different aspects of buying a house before you get into them.  Many discover that after they’ve made an offer of purchase, the process isn’t exac
tly as they’d envisioned! You’ll feel confident when you get to this step by following this guide: 

 

  • - The offer itself isn’t just a price you’re willing to pay for the property; closing date, closing cost contribution, contingencies, or the earnest money deposit are all things that are normally included when the offer is submitted to the seller. 
     

  • - Talk with your agent before you come to your initial price, because you don’t want to insult the seller with a very low offer, nor do you want to pay too much for the house. 
     

  • - Although you won’t always get a complete answer, knowing why the house is on the market can give you some leverage, so ask anyway. Some sellers are in a time crunch and are eager to sell and may take your first offer. 
     

  • - Keep in mind that there are legal aspects to writing a proposal.  Your Realtor will know all the aspects of this part of the process and will take you through each step. 
     

  • - It is very likely that the seller won’t accept your price if it’s less than what they’re asking.  If they want to sell and have no higher offers, they may choose to send a counteroffer.  The counteroffer step is nothing to worry about, if the negotiations are getting you somewhere.   
     

  • - Some sellers will counteroffer with their original asking price.  If this happens, you may have to walk away, as they have shown they’re not interested in moving away from what they want for the property.
     

  • - Don’t forget that you may not be the only buyers interested in the home!  Realtor.com® offers some advice on how sellers might handle multiple offers and some ideas on how to make your offer stand out. 

 

When your offer is accepted, it’s exciting, but there is still work to do!  Hopefully, you have pre-approval for a mortgage, making the buying process a much smoother one.  There are added costs associated with buying a home, so be sure you have your finances in order.  

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: jetdirectmortgage.com

Before You Buy a Foreclosure

by Tucker Robbins


While looking through real estate listings, you might be curious when you see a property up for auction or one that is “real estate owned,” and wonder if the price is too good to be true.  There is a process of buying a foreclosure house, and you need to p
repare yourself, so read on for some pointers on what’s involved before you make your decision: 

 

  • - A “Bank-Owned Home” is just that:  the owner stopped making payments, and the lender is in the process of auctioning the home to try and recover the money they loaned.  Houses that are “Real Estate Owned” mean that the bank’s auction didn’t result in a sale and is being sold through a real estate agent. 
     

  • - Vacant homes can have all sorts of issues: mold, vandalism, pest issues, stolen copper piping, and neglected landscaping are just a few.  Before you make a bid, go and see the home for yourself, and decide if you can afford the sale price plus the cost of repairs. 
     

  • - Hire an inspector to go to the house with you so you’ll have an idea of exactly what needs to be done.  You don’t want to underestimate renovation costs. 
     

  • - When considering the asking price, and you have taken steps to get a contractor bid on all the rehab, use this formula to calculate your offer:  80% of the appraised value minus the cost of repairs. 
     

  • - Investing in a foreclosure as a rental will require less trendy but rugged materials and flipping to resell might be more expensive (and more headache!).  Moving into the home yourself can keep initial costs in check if you’re willing to do what’s necessary before moving in and holding off on upgrades. 
     

  • - Some foreclosure purchases must be made in cash, and that can put investors at an advantage.  In case cash isn’t a requirement for the purchase, have proof of pre-approval from your lender when you make your offer. 

 

Whatever your reason for your interest in buying a foreclosed home, make sure you do your research, and talk to your bank as well as an experienced REALTOR®.  Search for foreclosures by locality and beware of anyone offering to sell “their property” that is in foreclosure.  Con artists are smart enough to find vacant properties to pass off as their own, sell them, and take the money and run. Educating yourself on the foreclosure purchase process will make for a smoother process, less stress, and hopefully an investment that will pay off for you! 
 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: fox-property-investments.com

Understanding Your Home Appraisal

by Tucker Robbins


During the selling/buying process, after the purchase agreement contract is signed, lenders order a home appraisal.  They want to be sure that the property is worth the mortgage they are getting ready to issue to the buyer, or in case of refinancing,
 the owner.  An appraisal is different from the home inspection, which should have already taken place.   

 

  • - The lender typically schedules the appraisal with a licensed professional, who contacts the homeowner to schedule a time.  Some appraisers don’t mind the owner being present, but usually work alone. 
     

  • - Sellers should have a few things readily available:  recent tax information, property survey, a list of what is being sold with the house, any addition construction information, including cost and construction date. 
     

  • - The assessment can begin before the appraiser even steps onto the property, as they do market information about the house, as well as research comparable sales in the neighborhood, much like the listing agent did for setting the price for the house. 
     

  • - Like someone viewing the house for purchase, the appraiser takes in the exterior appearance, curb appeal, looks for upgrades or additions, as well as the appearance of surrounding homes. 

  • The appraiser takes note of how many rooms are in the house, as well as size, building materials and finishes. 
     

  • - Condition of everything is taken into consideration, including the foundation, exterior finishes, wear on flooring, what shape the windows are in, and all home systems. 
     

  • - The appraiser will also access the basement, attic and crawlspace to check for water or insect damage. 
     

  • - Most of the time, the appraisal fee is set in the loan agreement, but in case it is not, the buyer pays the fee in the closing costs. 

 

Although the actual property inspection may take a few hours, the appraisal itself is normally given to the lender in an average of seven business days. Appraisers commonly use the Uniform Residential Appraisal Report. If everyone has done their homework, literally and figuratively, the value of the home will meet the selling price, and the new buyers will soon be on their way to home ownership! 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: Homelight

Checklist for New Home Buyers

by Tucker Robbins


Closing day has finally come and gone - you’re almost finished packing for your move, and let's face it you are BUSY! But, it is important to slow down to take note of a few things that should be done before and soon after you move in.  Go down this list of must-do’s so you’ll be safe, secure and happy in your new home:
 

 

  • - Change all of the entryway locks, keypad codes, and make plans to get a security system set up. 
     

  • - Have utilities turned on in your name, as well as television provider and internet.   
     

  • - Deep clean the new house, even if it looks clean.  This job can be hired out, or you can DIY if time permits.  Keep in mind costs involved with renting any necessary equipment, as well as cleaning product expenses. 
     

  • - Plug in/turn on all appliances, to make sure they’re in working order. 
     

  • - Walk through the house to check for minor things that didn’t warrant repair by the seller. Having your copy of the home inspection in hand will help you find the problem areas that may need to be addressed before they get too big and too costly. 
     

  • - If you want update the home’s color palette with a fresh coat of paint, or do any other small improvement jobs consider getting them done before move in day. This will allow for the painting and repairs to be finished easier and faster before settling in with added obstacles.
     

  • - Typically sellers leave the window treatments, but in case they didn’t be sure to measure the windows. Allow for time and budgeting to purchase and install shades or blinds until curtains or shutters can be hung. 
     

  • - Let everyone know your new address:  relatives and friends, of course, but also medical offices, your employer, schools, and other important people that communicate by mail. 
     

  • - Create a homeowner folder to keep all of your important papers. Be sure to store it in a safe and easily accessible place. 
     

  • - Meet your neighbors!  Once you’ve moved in, introduce yourself and your family by hosting a front porch social, with light refreshments.  Slip invites in mailboxes and simply ask them to stop by to say hello.  

Once you get settled in, you’ll need to get into a homeowner frame of mind.  You will have things to keep an eye on and maintain on a regular basis. Bob Vila’s home checklist gives you an idea of what you’ll need to check regularly. 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: newhomesource.com

Workshops for First Time Homebuyers

by Tucker Robbins


That’s right--classes for home buyers!  If you’re just starting out on your home-purchase process, you may get overwhelmed when you find out all that’s involved.  Sadly, it’s not as easy as finding a house, paying for it, then moving in.  It’s a great idea
 to learn all you can about the process as well as being a homeowner. 

 

  • - Don’t wait until you’ve found a house you want to purchase before signing up!  Find a course that will help you learn the ropes from house-hunting to closing so you’ll feel confident when you contact a Realtor to begin your search. 

  • - Credit counseling is best done about six months before you start looking at homes, so you can learn about improving your credit score, as well as creating a budget and sticking to it.  You want the highest credit score possible so you can receive pre-approval for a mortgage. 

  • - Don’t have enough saved for a 20% down payment?  A workshop will help you find a program that will assist you with finding low down payment programs, as well as if there are any grants available in your community. 

  • - HUD-approved counseling agencies usually offer one-on-one sessions so you can get a better understanding of your own personal financial situation, as well as answer any specific questions you may have. 

  • - Many workshops have more than one “instructor;” you will hear from lenders, appraisers, inspectors, and insurance agents that will discuss their roles in the home-buying process. 

 

When dreaming of buying your own home, don’t let all of the information overwhelm you and keep you from even trying! If you are pressed for time with work and family, online course may be for you!  All it takes is this first step, and you’ll find that a home-buyer course will show you won’t be alone on the road to home ownership.   

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: solitashouse.com

Protecting Yourself From Moving Scams

by Tucker Robbins


It appears
 every week, we’re reading about a new scam to be watchful for, and sadly, moving scams are out there.  Some news reports have shown interviews with families who have never found their belongings months after a move!  Protect yourself by keeping these tips in mind when hiring movers: 

 

  • - Reputable moving companies charge a fee based on weight, along with their base fee.  If you’ve talked with someone who has given you a basic price without coming to your home to estimate, or who doesn’t look at everything you have, they may throw an extra fee on your balance before they’ll move your items into the new home. 

  • - If the movers ask for a deposit, find another company.  Paying money up front takes away your control over having your belongings delivered where and when you want them.   

  • - Before you or the movers start packing, take a written inventory of your things, and take photos of fragile, expensive, or irreplaceable items. 

  • - Get a contract, go over it with a fine-tooth comb, and once it’s signed, make your own copy so you won’t have and edited version with added charges once it’s time to deliver to the new home. 

  • - If you’re moving to another state, movers are required to give you a booklet called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,” according to the Office of Inspector General. If the company you’re interested in doesn’t offer it to you, ask for it, and if they don’t have it, find another mover. 

  • - Once things are packed, number your boxes and list them on your inventory, and once you’re moved in, unpack or at least look in every single box.  Your time for filing damages is limited, and the sooner you get that done, the better. 

  • - Most mover’s insurance only covers damage to items that they packed.  If you insist on packing some things yourself, take them with you in your vehicle or rental. 

  • - Stumped on finding a reputable company?  Head over to the American Moving and Storage Association’s website, where it’s easier to find a mover in your area. 

 

Remember, your RealtorⓇ knows all about the ins and outs of moving and can help you locate a good company who will take care of your worldly goods and treat you right. 

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Photo credit: fewmoves.com

For Sale By Owner for Sellers and Buyers

by Tucker Robbins


Some homeowners think they’ll be saving a ton of money by choosing to sell their home themselves, and unless they’re a real estate agent, that may be so.  If you are interested in a house that is offered for sale by the owner (FSBO) what’s the risk for you
?  Read on to find out why it’s not a good idea for seller or buyer: 

 

Sellers 

  • According to realtor.comⓇ, the listing agent and buyer’s agent split about 6% of the home’s sale price.  You’ll need to calculate how much it costs you to stage and photograph your home, get an MLS number, market the house, take time from work to schedule showings as well as host the showings, do all of the paperwork involved, and contact and pay attorneys and others who are involved in a home sale, and compare it to the commission you believe you’ll give up to an agent.   

  • - To be fair, the seller should offer a 3% commission to the buyer’s agent.  Otherwise, most agents won’t bring anyone who’s interested to your home for a showing. 

  • - Sellers are responsible for any mistakes that have occurred once the transaction is in motion.  If you don’t purchase errors and omissions insurance, you may end up paying out of pocket in court or settle out of court for those mistakes. 

  • - Pricing your home takes more than just an online search for sold homes in your area, and not only can you overprice your house, but you can lose thousands by underpricing. 

  • - Scammers abound and can cost you in many ways.  These criminals target FSBO homeowners, because the scammers are savvy enough to make their offer look legitimate.   

 

Buyers 

  • - Beware the owner’s asking price.  Since the majority of FSBO sellers don’t have the experience to set a good market value on their home, their quote will likely be too high. 

  • - Be prepared to wait some time to see the home.  Most homeowners have full-time jobs, and you’ll have to view the home on their time, with them as your host. 

  • - If a seller tells you their house is in perfect condition, and you can save money by not hiring an inspector, walk away.  Every house even brand-new houses should be inspected before changing hands. 

  • - Ask the seller what fees they plan on paying, and in the case that they ask to share the costs with you, it’s time to find another house. 

  • - Do your own research on the house, make sure the person you’ve talked with is the actual owner, and proceed with caution.  There are scams that involve an empty house, FSBO signs, and scammers who will take your money and run, because they aren’t the rightful owner. 

 

The best advice: hire a RealtorⓇ.  Not only are they the ones taking the risk in selling your home (or not), licensed real estate agents know everything you don’t know about selling and purchasing, devote all their working hours to home-buying, and can protect your investment as well as a buyer’s interests. 
 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Terms First-Time Home Buyers Need to Know!

by Tucker Robbins


The time has come to begin the steps of buying your first home and looking around the internet and other real estate-related media, you’re finding there’s a lot more to know than finding a house, getting a loan, and signing papers.  There are some key wor
ds that can be unfamiliar to a first-time home buyer, so familiarize yourself with these lesser-known terms so you’ll have fewer questions and stumbles along the way: 

 

  • - In order to be certain that the home is worth the amount of the loan, there will be a home appraisal performed by an unbiased inspector of the lender’s choosing. 

  • - At the final paper-signing, the buyer is required to pay closing costs, which normally include attorney fees, surveyors, inspections, and title insurance, among other things.  Be prepared to have 2-5 percent of the purchase price for closing costs. 

  • - If you’d like to pay less interest over the time of your loan, you can purchase discount or mortgage points.  To learn more about this option, check out these tips from the Nerd Wallet website. 

  • - Earnest money is money that will be paid to the seller to show good faith of the buyer towards the home purchase.  It will be applied to your down payment. 

  • - When you have funds in escrow, you will have given funds to a third party to hold until they have verified that inspections, disclosures or any disputes have been resolved.  Keeping it in escrow protects your deposit before you sign the final contract to buy your new home. 

  • - Pre-approval is very important and differs from being pre-qualified.  If you’re pre-approved for a loan amount, you have a realistic expectation of what you can buy. 

  • - If your down payment is less than twenty percent of the purchase price, you will pay private mortgage insurance typically until that amount reaches twenty percent of the loan or home value. 

  • - Your lender will require the purchase of title insurance, which protects real estate owners and lenders against any property loss or damage for whatever reason.  Learn more about what title insurance is and what it covers from the CFPB. 
     

There are other terms and abbreviations you may find in your search for a house in their descriptions and about real estate in general that you won’t be familiar with.  Here’s a longer, more comprehensive list from realtor.comⓇ.  The more you know before you get started, the smoother the home-buying process will be!


Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: activerain

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Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)