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Yes to a Home Inspection

A constant question I am asked by buyers is whether they should hire a Home Inspector.

My simple answer is yes!

It is my experience that no matter what the circumstances  a wise Buyer will have a qualified inspector ( one certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors) give the property a “once over” before making the second deposit payment. Even if the property has just been renovated you still need to know if there are and significant issues still remaining or unaddressed.

I also believe that you need an inspection for new construction as unfortunately certain boulders cut corners and what appears to be cosmetically pleasing may have significant latent issues.

The following is a link to a great article on what to ask your home inspector.

The money spent on a home inspection ( usually $400 to $600) is the best way to have peace of mind as you make the largest purchase of your life.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or visit my website for more information.

Tips For Sellers

As most of you know the residential real estate market continues with a downward spiral lowering property values.

While this is great for buyers, especially coupled with low interest rates, it is obviously not good for sellers. Anytime I see an article that can help sellers I like to post it. Today’s post comes from a great resource website, This Old House.  Many of you watch the show, which has been on PBS for years, and their website is a great source for residential buyers and sellers but this article in particular is an excellent resource for today’s sellers. Good luck sellers!

Tips for Sellers

Lately I have not been compelled to post on my blog because as we all know the residential real estate market has been going through a tough time and I did not any new ideas.

In fact, yesterday it was announced that home sales are actually lower than from a year ago, and we though we had already hit the low! With that in mind I just read an interesting short article about how sellers can help to make their sale by doing just a few things. Here is the link. http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2011/05/31/5-mistakes-home-sellers-should-never-make/?icid=maing-grid7|aim|dl2|sec3_lnk

As always feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

What can a sales agent tell you?

I came across this article recently on AOL regarding what a sales agent can and cannot give out in terms of advice based on the limitations of the laws of the Fair Housing Act.

While prospective home buyers have many of the questions that the Fair Housing Act does not allow a sales person to answer ( neighborhood income, religion and crime statistics) , a smart home buyer will do their own research to make an informed decision. There are many tools to do the proper information gathering, as this article references, so do your homework before you purchase your home!

Choosing a Realtor

Whether buying or selling a property, choosing a qualified, well schooled Realtor is a personal preference as to who works best for you but also you should look to who they are,their educational background and their success in the community.

Today I read an excellent article on the topic that I thought was worth linking.

You Need an Attorney(Revisted)

I am consistently asked by Buyers and Sellers either about to enter a residential transaction or already in a residential transaction, ” Do I need a Lawyer”? I will keep my answer simple. Yes!

You are embarking on what is likely the largest financial decision of your life. This is not be the time to decide to not have a set of trained legal eyes review and guide your deal.

I have mentioned the need for an attorney before but the reality hit home as yesterday as I attended a continuing legal education course for Pennsylvania attorneys. We are required to take 12 hours of class lecture each year to maintain our license and yesterday’s all day six hour course was specifically targeted on residential real estate transactions. The coursebook was over 400 pages and the six hours was not nearly enough time to cover everything. I point this out because when I first started taking this type of course 10 years ago, it was a 3 hour course with materials under 100 pages.

The residential real estate landscape has changed and become more complex. One thing that was mentioned time and time again in yesterday’s class was that residential transactions have more and more significant pitfalls and issues and there is no way a consumer could possibly understand everything that they are about to sign which will bind them to specific legal obligations. In addition, real estate sales people are not legally trained and are not allowed to guide the consumer with legal advice.

The residential deal is complex, hire an attorney who can explain the complexities!

Still Problems in Housing Market

It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, this is for everyone…..
(AP) — President Barack Obama says that no matter how much the government spends, some people still won’t be able to afford their mortgages and will lose their homes.
There are still underlying problems in the housing market, the President said, in part because “some people just got too much house for their salary.”
Obama made his comments in response to a question at a recent town hall event.
He said that Wall Street overhaul legislation pending in Congress would help with regulations to ensure that people don’t get “tricked” into buying homes they can’t afford.
Said the President: “We don’t want to go through anything like this again.”

So why am I posting this?….. To further point out how important it is to have legal representation when you are purchasing a home.
The President used the word “tricked” and that is exactly the issue in the current residential climate. Many parties involved in a transaction do not have your interest in mind and will do whatever they have to do to earn their fees, with total disregard to the impact on you as the Buyer.

Don’t be tricked! Don’t wait until legislation is passed, be proactive and look out for your own deal! Retain me before you sign anything so I can advise you every step of the way and give you a legal inspection of your deal.

Some tips/thoughts for Buyers

Purchasing residential real estate can be very stressful which is why I always recommend that buyers and sellers have an attorney who practice in real estate ( me) represent them throughout the deal. Here are some good random tips for Buyers based on issues I see come up often….

GET PRE-APPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE BEFORE YOU MAKE AN OFFER.
When you are trying to buy a house in a competitive market, your offer to purchase should contain as few conditions as possible. Conditional offers based on obtaining financing are often a deal killer. The seller may accept a competing offer for less money rather than take the risk that you won’t be able to raise mortgage money. A pre-approval letter from your lender tells the seller you are ready and able to commit.

DO NOT ACT ON EMOTION WHEN MAKING AN OFFER.
When you act on emotion, rather than reason, you may end up paying too much money. This can happen when you fall in love with a particular house and start picturing how great it will be to live there. Another reason you may be driven to pay too much is that a bidding war triggers your competitive instincts and you must buy the house at all costs – which you will regret later.

PUT MONEY ASIDE TO COVER SETTLEMENT COSTS.
You’ve put together a down payment. However, be aware that there are also a list of expenses you may have to pay at closing. Settlement costs can add up to between two and six percent of your deal. Your lender must give you a Good Faith Estimate of the loan-related fees you’ll have to pay. In addition most counties and each state have a real estate transfer tax due at settlement. Have the title company give you an estimation of what you will ultimately need at closing.

INSIST ON A HOME INSPECTION.
This is perhaps the most important item you should do as a potential home buyer. Make sure you have this item selected as a contingency in your Agreement of Sale. You need to have a thorough review of the property so you are educated on any issues it may have before you continue with the purchase. If the seller won’t help bear the costs, or adjust the price, you may still want to go ahead with the purchase, but make sure you can afford the necessary repairs on top of your mortgage.

DO NOT DO A DOUBLE MOVE
If possible, avoid a situation where you’ve got to camp out with relatives or find a short-term rental because you must vacate your old house or apartment before you can move into your new digs. Moving once is enough.

MOST IMPORTANTLY
No matter what stage of your transaction, a smart buyer ( or seller) retains an attorney who is well versed in residential real estate transactions.

Good website for Philly area Buyers and Sellers

I periodically look around the internet to find web sites that I think are easy to navigate for residential buyers and sellers. This particular website seemed easy to navigate and is pretty straightforward. It is run by a Realtor named Frank Grabon and mostly covers Abington, Bensalem, Feasterville, Huntingdon Valley and Northeast Philadelphia. I do not know this particular Realtor but I liked the simplicity of the site thus I am posting a link to the site.

No matter if you are a Buyer or Seller, while a Realtor can be important in the sales aspect of your deal, do not forget the critical element of having an attorney who is familiar with residential real estate documents, review your transaction with a “legal inspection” of your deal. Contact me and I will review your deal and give you peace of mind!

Home Buyer Tax Credit Ends Soon

I was speaking with one of my favorite Realtors Jennifer Hohenberger of Coldwell Banker Preferred in Exton, PA ( check her out, great website www.jennsellshouses.com,  she is knowledgeable, all the credentials!) and we were talking about the soon to end tax credit for first time home buyers and the credit for repeat home buyers. These are great credits to obtain but are set to expire soon.

In order to receive the $8,000.00 credit for  first time home buyers  or the $6,5000.00 for repeat home buyers you must have an Agreement of Sale in place by April 30, 2009, and settle by June 30, 2010.

There are several criteria to qualify for the credits so I suggest you you click this link to see a clear and concise explanation of how to qualify. If you are seriously thinking about making a purchase you should act now on finding a property so there is enough time to have an sales contract in place by April 30, 2010.

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me on my website or call me at 215-253-8494

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