3 Good Questions to Ask When Buying Your New Home
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When you’re a first-time homebuyer, chances are you’re adding a lot of new terms to your vocabulary. Escrow, closing costs…what does it all mean? They don’t teach you about real estate transactions in high school, so when and where are you supposed to acquire this knowledge? The best way is by asking a professional realtor. Today we want to examine two popular types of ownership for homebuyers and what that means to you – condominium and fee simple ownership.
Condos sometimes look like apartments or multi-unit structures, but they can also look like townhomes, garden homes or duplexes. If you purchase a condominium, you generally own the space inside the unit as an individual. You also jointly own the common elements of the building, or an undivided interest in the land and the structure held in common with other condominium owners in the building. The common elements are typically exterior walls, the roof, decks, plus the common land areas and recreational facilities.
Along with condominium ownership come condominium fees. These fees typically cover the cost of maintaining everything outside of your individual unit, although water consumption is often times a part of the condominium fee instead of an added cost. The condo association will have a master insurance policy on the jointly owned components of the property, and you will only need to insure what’s inside your unit. A condo association makes decisions on when and how the money from condo fees will be spent, whether that’s on unit improvements, repairs or managing common areas. As a condominium owner, you should never have to worry about replacing the roof, repairing windows or painting the structure’s exterior. Your condo fee will cover it!
Before purchasing a condominium, read the Condominium Declaration document to understand your responsibility and that of the condomium association. There are several condominium documents, which are mandated by the state and require the latest version of information and budgets to be provided to every purchaser. A purchaser will receive this information prior to closing. Review them carefully. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask your realtor.
Fee Simple Ownership
Fee simple ownership is a “freehold” estate, which means that you own the land and everything on the land for the duration of your life with the right to transfer it to your heirs, depose of it at any time or place restriction on it as you wish. It is regarded as the highest level of ownership in this country. As the owner, you are responsible to maintain and insure everything on the parcel of land.
Although you own everything on the property, you may still have to pay dues and be a part of a homeowners association. Homeowners associations usually have rules and regulations about how you can alter the outside of your home and whether recreational vehicles are permitted to be stored on the property. Their goal is to make sure the neighborhood remains beautiful and well maintained so that home values stay as high as possible (for everyone’s benefit).
Understand What You’re Buying
No matter which type of home you choose to purchase, make sure you fully understand what owning that type of property entails. Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the condo association or the homeowners association. When deciding what to buy, make sure to factor in dues for either of these associations into your budget. As a first time homebuyer, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need so that you’re crystal clear on what you’re signing. There’s no shame in asking questions, and your realtor is here for just that purpose.
For more information on condominium and fee simple ownership, contact Jacobson Realty and Home Staging. We’d be happy to explain in more detail what real estate terms mean to you as the homebuyer.
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We tend to think of the holiday season as a shopping season for gifts and food, but not for major investments. With major shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we think of buying discounted toys, games and electronics. But around the holidays is actually a great time to look at purchasing a new home, too. Here are some reasons why you should shop now:
· New homes may be less expensive – Much like retailers, builders also want to close out the year with less inventory on their books. This could translate to a great deal for you as the buyer. Shopping for a brand new home during, and right after, the holiday season could really pay off. Some builders even offer incentives like free or discounted upgrades, so keep your eyes peeled for deals.
· Investors are looking to liquidate – Real estate investors also do not want to close the year out with a lot of inventory on their books. It’s more profitable for them to flip properties quickly, and they may be willing to lower their prices or take a little less than the asking price to sell quickly. An experienced real estate agent can help you find investor-owned properties that you can snap up for a great price.
· People want a fresh start for the new year – Around the beginning of the new year, people are motivated to make major changes in their lives. Maybe moving is on their agenda, but they really don’t want to wait for spring to get into that new home. Eager sellers can offer fantastic deals for buyers, so take a look now and see what bargains are out there.
· Sellers listing in off-peak times may have a bigger sense of urgency – People listing their homes in the winter months may have a bigger need to sell their homes than those who can wait until more optimal times to sell. There may be a little more wiggle room in the price, or you may be able to ask for help with closing costs as an added bonus.
· There is less competition among buyers – Fewer people looking to buy means you may not be up against as many competing offers that may drive up your bid on a home.
We know the holidays are a busy time of year, but with a little bit of planning and preparation, you can balance home shopping with all of the festivities. Finding a great home for a lower price will be well worth the little bit of extra effort. Jacobson Realty and Home Staging can help you get the most house for your money. If you’re ready to find out about real estate bargains and shop for a home this holiday season, contact us today!
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Buying a home is exciting, but it can also be stressful, especially for first time homebuyers. The process may seem overwhelming, lengthy and confusing. There’s so much to do! But, with the right network of professionals – a loan officer and realtor, for starters – you can make it through.
Here are some of the steps you will take when you go to buy your home.
You will need to start by checking your credit and resolving any issues that may prevent you from buying a home. There are many companies out there that will check your credit for you. Or, you can check your credit yourself. By law, you are entitled to receive a free credit report from a credit bureau such as Experian once every twelve months.
Next, you will need to find a loan officer through a bank, mortgage lending institution, or a local realtor. You will want to get a lender who can explain your financing options and the requirements of each so you can make an informed buying decision.
Once you have a lender, you will want to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for financing and receive the lender’s pre-qualification letter. When you do, you will have a better sense of which homes are in your price range and the responsibility you will have when making the purchase. Getting pre-qualified will also save you a lot of time once you start looking at homes and will help make your offer competitive .
The next step is to meet with a local realtor. You will want a realtor who is familiar with the area in which you are looking and educated in the latest real estate trends. A good realtor will be able to show you the kinds of homes in your budget, explain how to structure an offer and negotiate on your behalf to get the home of your choice.
When you begin looking at homes, you should have a checklist. How many bedrooms and bathrooms will you need? How much property would you like to maintain? Do you need a basement? What size garage is important? These are all factors to consider as you begin the home buying process.
Have you decided on a home? If so, with the help of your realtor, it’s time to make the offer. The offer will include an earnest money deposit, which is a good faith deposit. You will have to place money up front with the offer to show you are serious about buying a home. Your realtor will address the need for inspections and will prepare the offer in a way that best meets your needs and remains competitive.
Prior to closing the transaction, you will have a final walk-through inspection to verify the condition of the property. When it is time to go to settlement or closing with a title company or an attorney, you will be asked sign off on the loan commitment and accept the transfer of title along with several other documents to make your purchase official. Once you accept the keys, the house is yours!
As you can see, this process is not simple, nor is it necessarily short – but don’t let that scare you out of buying a home! Finding the right team of experts will help make for a smooth and hassle-free experience. For a more detailed explanation of how to buy a home, call Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at 703-338-9678 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.
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