Posts Tagged ‘homebuyers’
Monday, November 28th, 2016
If you have been looking for a home recently you may realize that doing so has become tougher: there is less inventory out there and when a great home lists there are often multiple offers. So how does a buyer get ahead to secure a home when many others are in the same situation? Here are some tips.
Hire a great real estate agent. This is above all the number one way to find a home in a tough market. Not only can your agent give you advice about what price and terms may get you that house you love, but they are also locally connected, which can make all the difference in the world.
Here is an example – After losing out on a few multiple offer situations I found buyers a home through my connections with other local agents – one that had not gone on the MLS yet. In another situation, I notified buyers of a home that was about to come on the market (they lost out on purchasing my listing in the same neighborhood), and they got into contract prior to the home going on the MLS. Some say this is unfair for the other buyers out there as they never had a chance to see or bid on the home, but many real estate sales work this way. Those of us who work particular areas often stay in touch and know when there is a listing coming up. Having that on your side as you search for a home is priceless.
Be Paperwork Ready: There is no better advice than to be ready to make an offer. This means you need to be preapproved with a lender (the lender should have all your paperwork so s/he is ready to go once you write an offer, and you should have a preapproval letter). Have a copy of your latest bank or investment statement showing proof of funds for your downpayment, in order to submit with your offer. Your offer should be as strong as possible so speak with your agent to determine what needs to be in there and what may be left out in order to avoid a multiple offer situation.
Know what you want: Often this is difficult when one is focusing on multiple areas or neighborhoods, but if you really know those you prefer, including floorplans and other amenities, you will be able to act quickly to see the home and make and offer. Even if multiple offers do come in, being first to present can often be helpful. Start looking at areas and homes before you are ready to purchase – the more information you have the better and more prepared you will be when the time to buy is right.
All in all, buying a home in a low inventory market can be tough. With interest rates rising every day counts – if you can lock in a rate prior to another rate increase that is great – and it just means you need to be ready when that right home becomes available. Of all the above tips, having a great buyer’s agent is the best advice I can provide. Many people think they can find a home without an agent, but a good agent is worth her weight in gold when it comes to finding the right home.
Happy home shopping!
Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
There is something important that all home buyers, sellers and agents need to be aware of and it is very easy to discover: making sure all parties on title have signed the listing agreement and the residential purchase contract (and of course all further documents that relate to the sale).
It is extremely important that all listing agents check the property deed prior to having sellers sign a listing agreement. It is not hard to do and takes only a call to the title representative. You cannot rely on what the seller(s) tell you, as they may not even realize that there is another person on title. Recently I sold a home on behalf of my buyer clients. I pulled up the tax records and saw there were 2 sellers named as owners. I drafted the offer with both names. Due to complicated circumstances one party was going to sell and the other was going to sign an interspousal deed transfer, but that was not signed yet. We got around it but it was a very strange situation and a bit risky.
Another home I sold recently had 3 sellers, but only 2 were named in the tax records; however the deed showed there was a third party on title (parent of one of the sellers). The listing agent was not aware of this and we had to get the third seller’s signatures on all paperwork after the contract was accepted. Luckily that third seller was cooperative – this may not always be the case.
If someone who is on title does not sign all paperwork then technically there is no contract, as the law states that all owners on title need to agree to a sale. You can imagine the legal repercussions down the road if things are done improperly! The good news is that the title company will catch this and it can be corrected, but not if the other person who has not signed decides to be uncooperative.
If you are an agent, this is something you should know, but believe it or not many agents have listing agreements signed without checking with their title department to assure that all parties on title sign the agreement. Similarly, buyers agents need to check the deed before writing offers to make sure this is the case. If you are a buyer or seller, you should ask your agent to make sure s/he has all the correct information at the time of listing or writing an offer.
Monday, September 19th, 2016
I don’t know if it’s just bad luck, but I have been having MAJOR issues with lenders lately – messing up (and almost killing) escrows at the 11th hour. (I should say that these mistakes are not from MY preferred lenders, but from lenders whose clients are purchasing my listings). Here is what I know: lenders are held to high standards, most importantly they must check all paperwork and needed documentation during the buyer’s loan contingency process. Here are some of the dumb things that I have seen lately from buyers’ lenders:
1. Not checking buyer documentation. I had a lender this past week that on the day of the loan contingency removal deadline realized that there were two parties to a trust for which they based funds going into the loan. Now I have to assume that they had a copy of this trust for 21 days, and that they vetted it to make sure their borrower qualified. However, on day 21 I find out that they “just realized” that there were 2 trustees, not one, and therefore the borrower actually had half of the money to his name instead of the whole trust amount, on which they based approval.
This is unacceptable folks! These are basic inquiries a lender needs to make when processing a loan! How could the lender not have known the borrower’s stake in the trust when it should have had that trust documentation, which clearly identifies trustees and is a vital document when funds are coming from it?! Unbelievable.
2. Sending over loan docs with a change in borrower names. Believe it or not, a lender this past week sent over loan docs to escrow to be signed by the buyers, with closing slated for the following day (which happened to be a Friday so there was no room for screw-ups). The problem was that the docs had DIFFERENT buyer names than the contract/escrow documents – they basically eliminated a buyer! Now, I don’t know about you but it isn’t rocket science – it is pretty basic common sense that if you have a contract between parties, you cannot just change or eliminate the name(s) of a party without proper documentation (it also happens to be the law). Lenders KNOW this!
Suffice it to say that in this particular case escrow and I had to jump through hoops and the lender had to re-draw docs at the 11th hour. It was very stressful. This is absolutely unbelievable. The lender has copies of the contracts and all documentation relating to the purchase agreement. For them to do something like this is just crazy.
The moral of my crazy lender scenario week is that there are often problems in a real estate transaction, so prepare for them. But those who are charged with qualifying borrowers need to be much more careful. Things like this should not be happening. This past week was officially named by me “lender screw-up week.” I sure am glad those lenders that I work with are so on top of things, and hope to never work with either of these particular lenders again.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
A good real estate agent is golden when it comes to assuring that all your needs are met as a buyer – from searching for the right home to negotiating, to making sure all obligations are met as a buyer and that everything needed from the seller has been provided. It not just about getting to the close of escrow, but also about protecting your legal rights as a buyer and making sure there are no surprises once you do close escrow.
When it comes to the purchase of a new construction home many buyers end up using builder sales representatives, partly because they are there on site and make it easy, and partly because buyers do not know why this can actually be detrimental when it comes to their rights. Here are the top reasons why working with your own real estate agent can help you when purchasing new construction:
1. Dual agency dilemma: When you work with a builder representative, their first allegiance is to the builder. Once they represent you as well then dual agency comes into play. If you are a frequent blog reader you know how I feel about dual agency (click here to read more), and the dangers it brings. In the alternative, it is better if you have your own representation so that the allegiance is only to you – that person can look our for ONLY your best interests.
2. Extra set of eyes and problem solver: Once again, if you have your own representative Realtor to look over the new construction contract then s/he may point some things out to you that you might be able to alter to suit you better. For example, including items that do not come with the home, or extending deposit dates. A good real estate agent is there to assist you and make sure that you benefit. The builder does not care to whom it pays the commission – they just want to get the home sold. Even if you the builder uses its own contract (as opposed to state or local real estate association documents), your agent can still be with you while the documents are presented and help you decipher them.
3. No extra cost to you: Many buyers make the mistake of believing that if they work directly with a builder sales representative, they will save money on the purchase of their new home. This is not true – the builder takes into account the commissions when setting home prices. The builder wants to sell the home, and while it may (key word – “may”) pay out less commission to an on-site sales rep, most builders do cooperate with brokers and advertise such. A buyer is not going to gain anything by working with an on-site sales rep versus an outside agent. In fact, an outside agent who is a good negotiator may be able to help negotiate perks and price adjustments on your behalf. Either way the builder is going to pay a commission, so why not take advantage of independent representation – someone who has ONLY your interests in mind and not those of the builder. There is no cost to you as a buyer.
When looking at the possibility of purchasing a new construction home, make sure you are well represented. Your interests should be first and foremost.
Thursday, March 24th, 2016
Many agents and home buyers are aware of the current shortage of homes for sale in many areas. In California there is currently a 4 month supply of homes, where 6 months is the norm and heading into the Spring it usually is higher. When desirable listings do come onto the market there is a rush of activity and often a quick sale. What will happen to the normally busy Spring selling season if inventory levels do not grow?
With interest rates still low and inventory levels down, it is more important than ever for buyers to be as prepared as possible to write a successful offer. Before buyers even start looking at homes, it is important to make sure to do the following:
1. Get preapproved. This is essential. You need to speak with a mortgage professional and get preapproved – not just prequalified – so that you know exactly how much of a loan you can afford and what you will need for a downpayment. There are different products out there so make sure you know which loans will work best for your circumstances. Talk to a qualified mortgage professional and get the preapproval letter before you start home shopping so you are ready to make an offer.
2. Find a good real estate agent. It is great to look at homes yourself online – in fact I always encourage doing so – but to have a skilled agent on your side provides you with an edge. Local area agents often hear of listings before they hit the market, or may even have “pocket” listings (contracted upcoming listings that are not yet on the MLS) themselves. Also, when a listing is on the MLS there may be important confidential agent remarks listed (that only MLS subscribers can see) that could help you prepare in writing an offer. Finally, some third party real estate sites do not list new properties immediately because they don’t sync directly with MLSs, so you may miss out on new listings that other buyers have already seen – even a day can make a difference in a tight inventory market.
3. Write the strongest offer possible. Depending on the circumstances you need to be ready to write the best “on-paper” offer possible, especially in situations where there are multiple offers on a property. Of course, you may not be able to compete with some things (for example, if another buyer is a cash buyer or offers over asking price when you are not qualified to do so), but it is still important to make the offer look as good as it can. This is another reason to have a strong agent on your side – she or he will advise you of the best tactics after assessing the situation, the comparable sold properties, the market and speaking with the listing agent. Your offer still may not be chosen, but there is a chance the one that is chosen could fall through, so you want to be the next best.
4. Be Ready! Make sure you are accessible by phone/text and email, and that you are able to view properties as soon as possible once they list. If a property lists on a Thursday and it looks like a home that meets all your criteria, waiting until the weekend to view it may increase the competition. Even in cases where the seller wants to wait the weekend to evaluate offers, getting yours in first could put you in a better position.
5. Keep an open mind. Check out homes that you may not necessarily find appealing on line, or may not be in your preferred neighborhood. Sometimes buyers reject seeing a listed property, only to later realize that it could have been a great home for them. Pictures can be deceiving, and for the right price a home that needed something to make it “perfect” – like a little updating, could be a great home for you at the right price. The same goes for a home outside of your desired neighborhood.
Thursday, September 10th, 2015
Recently I had a sale fall apart at the 11th hour, and it could have easily closed had the buyer’s agent been in constant communication with his client’s mortgage professional. It was very frustrating for my seller, who was trying to accomplish a 1031 exchange and close the sale prior to closing a purchase – she ended up canceling a sale after issuing a notice to perform and close escrow. This could have been prevented, but a few people dropped the ball, including the agent.
If you are a buyer’s agent, please read on. If you are a buyer, also please read on and make sure your agent is doing his/her part to assure you close escrow on your next home.
If you are a buyer’s agent you must stay in constant communication with your buyer’s mortgage professional. You can never sit back and assume things are going smoothly. It is NOT the listing agent’s job to chase your client’s mortgage professional.
All buyer’s agents need to do the following in every sale, even if the mortgage professional seems to be on top of things – because the minute you know there is a problem, the better chance you have of helping to remedy it.
- Call and email the mortgage person immediately upon getting an offer accepted – introduce yourself and provide all your contact information.
- Forward the contract and related documents to that person right away, including a synopsis of deadlines (I like to email this and highlight it – even though the mortgage professional will have all the information in the contract, it helps to remind them).
- Check in with the mortgage person several times a weeks to get a progress report, or let him/her know right off the bat that you would like a progress report emailed to you on Tuesday and Friday, even if there is not much to say. If you don’t get it, call or email.
- Make sure you get any further documentation to the mortgage professional right when it is requested.
If you already have a relationship with a preferred lender you know how that person works, and that will undoubtedly help you and your buyer. I know when I am working with my preferred lender, and a few others out there who have great communication skills, that I will always know what is going on with my client’s loan and there will be no surprises.
As the old adage goes, no one can do it better than you can do yourself – so buyer’s agents: please take those words to heart and make sure you are on top of your transactions. You will make your clients very happy in doing so and you will be more successful.
Friday, July 24th, 2015
Hackers are always finding new ways to get into our information, and lately they seem to be focusing heavily on real estate transactions. They are doing this by breaking into your email accounts and finding information about pending property sales, which they can use to their advantage.
The hackers find out what they can about transactions, including names and email addresses of parties involved in the transactions such as buyers, sellers, escrow or closing officers/companies, and other real estate agents. They then send emails posing as these people asking for purchase funds to be wired to accounts that they own.
How do you protect yourself from these hackers?
1. VERIFY: Don’t ever transfer ANY funds without calling to verify amounts and account numbers. Even if the email looks like it comes from the escrow company, take a few moments to call anyway.
2. KEEP BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION PRIVATE: Don’t ever provide bank account information – make sure that your escrow or closing officer handles this in a professional manner. You should never give out your own bank account numbers. If there is a wire that needs to be made, all you need is the wiring information directly from the escrow company (or attorney if you are in a state that uses attorneys to close property sales).
3. KEEP YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNTS PROTECTED: It is important to protect your email accounts as best you can. Change your email passwords often, and make sure they are not easy passwords to figure out. Do not use your birthdate, name, or other obvious information. Definitely do not use the word “password,” your birthday, numbers like 123 or your childrens’ names. Try to think of passwords that do not make much sense and would be difficult to figure out, with a combination of numbers and letters.
There are some email servers that provide two step verification processes in order to log into email accounts. They use codes that are sent to you via a mobile app or text message – these codes are never the same but are required in conjunction with your password. Check with your provider.
Hackers will always pose threats, but you can lessen the chances of being victimized by being careful and vigilant.
Monday, July 20th, 2015
The real estate market has been literally HOT for some time now – both 2014 and 2015 have shown record sales and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is still a seller’s market, inventory and interest rates are low, and it is the prime “selling season.” But how long can this last?
There are several factors that could have an impact on our real estate market moving forward. Let’s look at those and analyze the possibilities:
1. New federal government policies. There are 2 big policies that are about to take effect which could have an impact on real estate sales. One of these could actually stimulate more sales because it advocates lower downpayment requirements and loosens up loan underwriting standards, which could help buyers, especially first time homebuyers, realize their homeownership dreams.
The other program on the horizon could have a detrimental affect on real estate sales. Home buyers and sellers will face a new hurdle in the sales process, one that could extend escrow periods – possibly for lengthy periods – and may cause other delays and issues. New requirements are being implemented that will make loan disclosures much stricter starting October 3, 2015. While the theory behind the disclosures makes sense, the implementation is sure to cause many headaches. In a nutshell, every time there is a change to any terms in the purchase contract, the borrower will receive new disclosures, and with it a new period to review them, which could extend the buyer’s contingencies for lengthy amounts of time, thus extending escrow periods.
For example, say you are purchasing a home and everything is going along well, and you have a few days left to remove your contingencies. You have a home inspection and there are repairs you feel the seller should make, so you present a repair request. The seller agrees to credit you money toward closing costs so you can repair those issues after the close of escrow. Your lender will now have to issue new disclosures to you because you are changing the terms of the contract (by getting a credit back through escrow), and you will have more time to review these new disclosures. This will extend your contingency period – it is risky for sellers because it means their homes will be held up in escrow for longer periods, or at least they will be off market without a non-refundable deposit for a longer period of time. For more information on this topic visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
2. Foreign investors: Over the last few years foreign homebuyers have invested quite a lot of money in U.S. real estate markets. But with the strengthening of the dollar and weakening of other currency, there are many economists who predict these investments will start to ebb.
3. Decline of new construction: New construction has picked up in some places over the last few years, but in this seller’s market it is not increasing at a rate to keep up with demand for homes, especially entry-level properties in many markets.
4. Interest rate changes -? At some point rates will need to move upwards, and this could obviously put some entry-level buyers out of the market. While it doesn’t look like this will be the case any time in the near future, it is inevitable at some point.
I feel that the current market will remain strong moving forward, at least for some time. With the new policies and state of the factors mentioned above it is foreseeable that things could slow down possibly in a year or so. But like I always say, location is a big part of the picture – here in San Diego we will always have a desirable market due to our weather and proximity to the ocean. For specific market news and predictions in your hometown, consult a licensed and experienced area real estate agent.
Friday, May 8th, 2015
Welcome to 1588 Sapphire Drive, Offered at $759,000 – $789,000
LaMar Real Estate is pleased to present for sale this recently updated and bright home, located in the gated hilltop coastal community of Mar Brisa. Enjoy the new laminate wood flooring downstairs, new paint throughout, new carpeting upstairs, granite kitchen counters and lovely mountain views. This is a highly functional floorplan with formal dining room and cathedral ceilings, plus a low maintenance, water-concious backyard.
With 4 bedrooms and a loft (optional 5th bedroom), 2 ½ baths, and 2570 square feet, this is the largest floorplan in the neighborhood. The community offers a resort-like pool, spas, tot lot, parks and ocean breezes. Carlsbad Unified School District and close to shopping, dining and the beach. Low HOAs, no mello roos! All this at a price $20,000 under the last model match that sold, but still beautiful and move-in ready!
- 4 bedrooms, loft, 2.5 baths, 2570 square feet
- Granite kitchen counters
- New wood flooring downstairs
- New designer carpeting upstairs
- New custom paint throughout home
- Wide baseboards
- Tile flooring in kitchen and bathrooms
- Separate formal dining room
- Cathedral ceilings and lots of natural light
- East-facing views of hills and mountains
- 3 car garage
- Washer, dryer and refrigerator included
- Low HOAs, no mello roos
- Resort-like community pool and spa area, 2nd spa, tot lots and parks
- Gated community on hilltop with ocean views
- Carlsbad Schools
- Close to shopping, dining, entertainment and the beach
For more information please visit the property website by clicking here, or contact broker Rachel LaMar at 760-310-9466. Ca BRE Lic #01399682
Monday, April 20th, 2015
One of the most challenging situations any real estate agent can face is working with a couple where each person has different ideas on what their new home should look like, where it should sit, or what amenities it must contain. Personally, I like challenges because they are like puzzles that need to be solved; once I help buyers work through them and we find a home that makes them both happy, it is extremely rewarding for me as well.
Some buyers start out excited to look at homes and quickly realize they are not on the same page; for others it takes longer – they make find a home that one loves and the other could never imagine living in. Or they may see two homes that are very different, or in different neighborhoods, and divide on which one they would like to purchase.
Most buyer couples quickly realize that they may have to compromise a bit in order to find a home that makes them both happy. Here are some great suggestions that will help these buyers find a home that meets most of what both are looking for:
1. Make a list. This is the good-old suggestion that I always throw out there no matter what difficult decision is facing someone – I have taught my kids to do it too and it really does put things into perspective. Ask each of your buyers to make a list of things they must have in a new home, things they would like to have, those they don’t particularly care for but could possibly live with if they had to, and those things they absolutely do not care for. The easiest way to do this is to draw columns so you can compare all these things side by side. It is important that each person who is a decision maker does this along, without the help of the other decision maker(s).
Once the lists are complete, I like to look at them myself and prepare a “report,” that finds the commonalities and the complete differences. It really helps for the decision makers to see what they actually do have in common and what they completely disagree upon. It helps to discuss this together – not to argue or get frustrated, but to understand where the partners are coming from.
2. Encourage an open mind. Conflicted couples know that they will likely have to compromise (whether they like it or not), but they may not know there are other options out there that neither has considered. By encouraging them both to have an open mind, I can go to work to find properties that they may not have even considered. Armed with their lists I can research, visit homes and then report back to them – hopefully getting them to agree to have a look. I have had many couples start out looking in particular neighborhoods, yet end up purchasing elsewhere – somewhere they would never have considered in the beginning.
Similarly, a home that would have been overlooked at the start, let’s say because the yard was too small and both parties really wanted a larger yard, may be a possibility if changes can be made to expand the yard – this of course will take some research but if the outcome is positive it may open up possibilities for the buyers.
3. Decide which items each party is willing to concede. As for the items that are completely opposing in the lists that were created, the couple needs to think about which items they will each concede – in other words, where are they willing to cooperate? If one insists on hardwood flooring and the other loves a home with travertine tile flooring, can one of them live with the flooring that would not be their first choice? If one wants to be in a neighborhood that is walking distance to shops and eateries and the other wants to be more secluded, who is willing to give in and look at conceding personal desires? Of course, with a concession there is the expectation that the other party will give in as well on another point, so it is important to discuss (see number 4 below).
4. Be ready to compromise. If one person likes modern style homes and the other likes traditional, both will want to consider a compromise. Maybe they find a Craftsman home and combine interior design styles so that there are modern and traditional elements.
5. Don’t let your relationship be affected by your design tastes. Keep in mind that buying a home is a big decision, and don’t let your relationship take a toll during such an important decision-making process. It IS possible to find a home that will make you both happy, but you need to be open, willing and ready to make concessions.
Purchasing a home is definitely not an easy process, but that doesn’t mean that it should be made more difficult due to clashing personal preferences. If buyers recognize the needs of their partners and make a plan to compromise and have open minds, it IS possible to find a home that will make them both happy – I have seen this happen many times so I know it is true.