Steps To Buying a Home

The Caton Team believes that buying a home is a journey.  We are happy to meet with buyers at any leg of their trek, whether it be a few years out, or we’re ready to buy now – Susan & Sabrina are happy to create a home buying plan with you and your family.  We believe communication is essential and understanding your goals as a home-buyer is they key to success.

Steps to Buying a Home

1.     Our Initial Interview

  • Determine needs, wants & desires for your new home
  • Discuss parameters
  • Discuss financial qualifications

2. Get Pre-Approved for your Home Loan

  • Contact your Financial Institution (Bank, Credit Union, etc) for a pre-approval of a Home Loan
  • Obtain a Pre-Approval letter once you have provided them with all necessary documentation (income verification, taxes, debt)
  • Once you know your purchase power we can help you shop your loan if necessary to find the best loan for your price range with the best interest rate & terms
  • Remember to make sure you have funds saved for your closing costs.*
  • REMEMBER – DO NOT OPEN ANY NEW LINES OF CREDIT OR MAKE LARGE PURCHASES – it will affect your credit score and purchase power!

3. Property Tours

  • We will preview many homes in your criteria
  • We will show you available properties that match your needs & wants
  • Listen carefully to fine-tune your ideal home
  • Provide information about the current market and reliable resources regarding cities, schools to help you with your decision

4. Write an Offer on the Home that fits your needs & wants

  • When possible – we get the Sellers Disclosure package beforehand so you can review the disclosures before we write an offer
  • Writing an offer will take between 1 to 3 hours
  • Complete the purchase agreement contract & review all the necessary disclosures with you
  • Buyer provides the earnest money deposit (this can be in the form of a personal check & will be held until an accepted contract is created – generally 1% – 3% of the purchase price)

5. The Caton Team Presents Your Offer

  • Prepare a presentation by highlighting the strengths of the offer & your strengths as the buyer
  • Present the offer to  the Sellers’ Real Estate Professional & when possible the Sellers
  • The Seller with either accept your offer, counter it, or reject it
Of course, our objective, if it is your objective – is to get your offer accepted on the first try.  If your offer is not accepted or rejected right off the bat – you begin the counter offer process.

6. Counter-Offer

  • Discuss the counter-offer with you and how it relates to your goals and prepare a response
  • Negotiate the counter-offer in your best interest while keeping the Seller happy as well

7.          Escrow

  • When the offer has been accepted & signed by all parties, escrow is opened
  • Earnest money (good faith deposit) will be deposited AND CASHED by the escrow company and held in escrow
  • The Escrow Officer will order the Preliminary Title Report & send copies to the Lender & us – your Realtors

8. Contingency Period

  • Buyers approval of Seller’s Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement
  • Buyers approval of the Preliminary Title Report
  • Buyers approval of any disclosures not provided prior to writing the offer
  • Conduct all desired Physical & Pest Inspections
  • Verify that the Property Appraisal & Loan have been approved & secured
  • Once the buyer is fully satisfied with the home, the buyer, in writing, will remove all their contingencies and is not locked into contract

9. Homeowners’ Insurance Coverage

  • Select an insurance company and discuss coverage (it is best to start with your car insurance company – they often offer umbrella discounts)
  • Give insurance agent escrow information.  They will need to order a copy of the policy for the new Lender prior to escrow closing

10. Signing Documents at the Title Company

  • Lender will send the loan documents directly to the title company several days before close of escrow
  • Buyer will receive copies of the title documents and the Lender documents (Take the time to review your loan documents prior to our signing appointment to make sure all the terms & conditions are what you agreed to – changes to the loan documents must be made before you sign so escrow will close on time)
  • Buyer will need current photo identification

11. Down Payment and Closing Cost Funds

  • You may bring a cashier’s check to the Title Company several days prior to closing or have funds wired directly from you bank
  • The Escrow Officer will provide a Buyer’s Estimated Closing Statement, which will itemize costs and credits, estimating the total money due at closing and also provide wiring instructions if you are doing a wire transfer of your down payment

12. Funding

  • Lenders will send funds directly to escrow the day before closing

13. Close of Escrow

  • The deed will be recorded at the County Recorder’s office by the Title Company (Buyer will receive the original back from the County Recorder in approximately 6 weeks)
  • Real Estate Professional will coordinate the transfer of the house keys after the transfer of sale is on record.

14. Move In!

  •  Get those boxes in the car, pop the bubbly – the house is yours!  Congrats
Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to answer them – email us at info@thecatonteam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/
Visit my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

SAFETY FIRST – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill – SB 183)

As of July 1, 2011, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act (Senate Bill – SB 183) will require all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source to install carbon monoxide alarms within the home by July 1, 2011.

Owners of multi-family leased or rental dwellings, such as apartment buildings, have until January 1, 2013 to comply with the law. The California State Fire Marshal has created this frequently asked questions (FAQ) on carbon monoxide devices to provide the citizens of California with information on this important matter.

1. What is Senate Bill No. 183 (SB-183)? SB-183 is also known as the “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act” This senate bill requires that a carbon monoxide (CO) detector be installed in all dwelling units intended for human occupancy.

2. What is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that is produced from heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, and many types of appliances and cooking devices. It can also be produced by vehicles that are idling.

3. What is the effective date for installing a CO device? For a single-family dwelling, the effective date is July 1, 2011. For all other dwelling units, the effective date is January 1, 2013.

4. Where can I find a list of all CSFM listed carbon monoxide devices? Click on the link titled “List of Approved Devices”. http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/strucfireengineer/strucfireengineer_bml.php

5. What is the definition of a dwelling unit? A dwelling unit is defined as a single-family dwelling, duplex, lodging house, dormitory, hotel, motel, condominium, time-share project, or dwelling unit in a multiple-unit dwelling unit building.

6. Where should CO devices be installed in homes? They should be installed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home including the basement. The manufacturer’s installation instruction should also be followed.

7. How many types of CO devices are available? There are three types. 1) Carbon Monoxide alarms (CSFM category # 5276), 2) Carbon Monoxide detectors (CSFM category # 5278), and 3) combination smoke/Carbon Monoxide detector (CSFM category # 7256 or 7257).

8. What is the difference between a carbon monoxide alarm and a carbon monoxide detector? A carbon monoxide alarm is a standalone unit which is tested to Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Standard 2034 and has its own built-in power supply and audible device. These units are typically installed in your single family dwelling. A carbon monoxide detector is a system unit which is tested to UL Standard 2075 and is designed to be used with a fire alarm system and receives its power from the fire alarm panel.

9. Are CO devices required to be approved by the State Fire Marshal? Yes. SB-183 prohibits the marketing, distribution, or sale of devices unless it is approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal.

10. If someone has a CO device that is not listed by the State Fire Marshal prior to the law, can they maintain it or does it have to be replaced? The law required that CO devices to be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal. It does not prohibit someone who already owns the device prior to the effective date of Senate Bill (SB) 183.

11. Where does one obtain a copy of a California State Fire Marshal (CSFM) listing of CO device? Copies of CSFM listing of CO devices can be found on the State Fire Marshal website by logging on the following: http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/licensinglistings/licenselisting_bml_searchcotest.php Under “Category”, click on the sort by “Number” button, then go to the drop down menu (right down arrow) to select “5276-CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS” or “5278-CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS”. Then Click on “Search” and it will list all CO alarms or detectors that are currently approved and listed by the OSFM.

12. Where can I go to receive further information on Carbon Monoxide? You may go the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL-FIRE) web site at http://www.fire.ca.gov and click on Carbon Monoxide under “Hot Topics”.

13. Who can we contact at CAL-FIRE/CSFM for additional information? Questions regarding carbon monoxide devices may be addressed to Deputy Mike Tanaka at (916)-445-8533 or mike.tanaka@fire.ca.gov

 

Thank you to Castle Rock Inspection for a great reminder!

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

NEWS – Changes in Conforming Loan Limits on the Horizon

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about the conforming loan limits on mortgages being lowered.  This affects all buyers, but in particular those in high price areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, where they will face higher down payments, higher mortgage rates, and stricter loan qualification requirements if conforming loan limits on mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac are reduced beginning October 1, 2011.

Despite the Obama administration claiming it will support a one-year extension of the current higher loan limits, on July 1st Bank of America lowered their loan limits for all new loans and other banks will soon follow suit.

Background 

The current loan limits have been in place since February of 2008, when they were passed as part of the Emergency Stimulus Act.  Housing conditions have not improved enough to warrant letting the limits drop. Unless Congress acts, these loan limits will drop to 115% of the local area median home price.  For the San Francisco Bay Area the decline in loan limits would be more than $104,000 from the current loan limit of $729,750 to $625,500.

Housing Markets are Rebounding, but the Recovery will be Slow.

With tight underwriting constraining mortgage availability, lowering the FHA/Fannie/Freddie loan limits will only further restrict liquidity. Even with the current higher limits, borrowers are finding it more and more difficult to obtain affordable mortgage financing. Making the current limits permanent at levels appropriate in all parts of the country will provide homeowners and homebuyers with safe, affordable financing and help stabilize local housing markets.  It will allow homebuyers in higher cost areas (such as the San Francisco Bay Area) to have access to affordable mortgage financing and not find it necessary to fall into a Jumbo Loan category with even higher interest rates.

The Caton Team, as well as other REALTORS® nation-wide, have contacted Congress and communicated clearly that a housing recovery depends on keeping mortgages affordable and that Congress needs to prevent these lower loan limits from taking effect.

We’ll keep you posted on what transpires as the weeks progress.  We’ve got our fingers crossed too.

We are dedicated to our industry and making the American Dream of home ownership attainable for all.  What can we do for you?

Got Questions?  The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Senate Bill 458 – Help for Short Sale Sellers

A new California law will further protect homeowners pursuing short sales by barring first and secondary lienholders from going after sellers for money owed after the short sales close.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 458, authored by Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro,) into law on Friday.

A short sale is a transaction in which the homeowner owes more on the loan than the property is worth. To sell the home, the lien holder or lien holders must approve the sale because the amount owed to the lien holder will be “short” of what is currently owed by the borrower.

Real estate tracker DataQuick said short sales made up 17.7 percent of Southern California home resales in June.

The new law builds on the protections offered by a previous law, SB 931, which required the first lien holder in a short sale to accept an agreed-upon payment as the full payment for the outstanding loan balance. The previous law did not address junior lien holders.

The new law, which became effective immediately, now prohibits secondary lien holders from pursuing deficiencies after a short sale closes.

“As the economic recession continues to impact Californians, SB 458 will allow homeowners forced to sell at a loss to have closure at the end of the process,” said Corbett, in a statement to the Union-Tribune. “By extending anti-deficiency protection to all loans on a home when a short sale occurs, a homeowner can use a short sale as an alternative to foreclosure or bankruptcy.”

The California Association of Realtors call the bill’s signing a “victory for California homeowners.”

“SB 458 brings closure and certainty to the short sale process and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short sale payment on a property, all lien holders – those in first position and in junior positions – will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property,” said Beth L. Peerce, president of the Realtors group, in a statement.

For more information please visit: http://www.car.org/newsstand/newsreleases/sb458/

 

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

 

 

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

A Quick Review on the Different Real Estate Markets…

Google buying a home and words like short sale, REO, bank owned, or regular sale pop up.  All these terms can be a bit confusing.

Right now, on the San Francisco Peninsula market we are experiencing three very different niche markets.

  • Regular / Normal Sale
  • Short Sale
  • Bank Owned Sale

Allow me a moment to explain what these three niche markets are and how they affect the buyer.

Regular / Normal Sale

These may feel like transactions of the past – but a normal sale is when the seller owns their property and the mortgage on the home is below the current home value.  In other words – the seller has equity in their home.  Equity is the profit for the seller.  The best part of a normal sale is working with living breathing humans who will respond to a buyers offer within a normal period of time and provides the buyer with disclosures upfront that sometimes include a recent home or pest inspection.  A quick glance at Redwood City last week (July 2011) showed 73% of the homes on the market are normal sales!  Wow – not what you expect if you listen to the news!

Short Sale

These transactions are trickier than the rest.  A short sale means, the seller owes MORE on their mortgage than the home is currently worth.  They have negative equity.  If circumstances change in the sellers life and they now need to sell their home – the home is placed on the market like a normal sale, however, when an offer comes in and the seller accepts it – it is their bank (where the mortgage is held) that needs to agree to take a shortage on their loan – thus the term Short Sale.  Doing a short sale hurts a seller’s credit less than allowing the bank to foreclose.  For a buyer it means patience since the response time for a bank to review their offer is anywhere between 3-6 months. Generally the seller still resides in the home and can provide disclosures upfront, though money is tight and the seller may opt to have the buyer pay for their own inspections.  In Redwood City last week 17% of the homes on the market were known short sales.

REO (Real Estate Owned) or Bank Owned Sale

The REO or Bank Owned property is a post foreclosure property.  That means the bank has foreclosed on the seller and now the bank owns the home and is selling it themselves.  The good news – a bank can respond to a buyer’s offer within a week – instead of the 3-6 months on a short sale.  The bad news, there are NO additional disclosures on the property aside from the CA mandatory disclosures.  The buyer holds the burden of conducting their own home and pest inspections (plus any other investigating they desire) during their contingencies.   Since the bank has never lived on the property they do not complete a Transfer Disclosure Statement that covers – along with many other items – neighborhood nuisances that a seller would have to disclose.  Have no fear – as the buyer you are protected and will have time to inspect the home to ensure it is in satisfactory condition.  Last week in Redwood City – 8% of homes for sale were bank owned.

(The remaining properties were 1% Auctions, 1% Court Confirmation /Probate Sales)

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

Ready to Get Pre-Approved? Here is your checklist…

The first step in becoming a home owner is getting pre-approved for a home loan.

These days, a  minimum of 3.5% is required  for FHA loans up to $417,000.

Otherwise you’ll needed between 10% and 20% for a down payment for purchases above $417,000.  Depending on your financial picture.   Note you will also need about 3% of your purchase price for closing costs.  We’ll review what closings costs are when we sit down together.

Before you contact a lender, gather the following items:

  • 3 months worth of pay stubs per person or other proof of income
  • 3 consecutive & most recent months of Bank Statements:  Checking, Savings, IRA’s, 401k, Retirement & Investment Accounts
  • Most recent Tax Return
  • Social Security numbers

To prepare for your appointment, take time to calculate your monthly/yearly household budget and determine you comfort level.  This will help you decide whether or not purchasing a home is right for you and your family.  Prepare a:

  • Household Budget
  • Bills & Expenses Budget
  • Future Budget factoring in your new home expenses.

We are here to help you each step of the way.

Got Questions – we’re here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

 

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

To read my personal journey through homeownership – visit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!

All That Real Estate Jargon

When considering the purchase of a home many factors come into play. Budget, Goals, Needs and Wants are all key players when deciding your next step.

Here are a few things to remember and consider:

Determine your Budget. Lenders will allow up to 30% of your monthly income to go to all debt. That includes your car loan, student loans, credit card debt and the mortgage.

When talking about your monthly mortgage payment – we uses the term PITI:

PRINCIPLE: How much of your monthly payment that goes towards your loan principle

INTEREST: How much of your monthly payment goes towards your interest rate

TAXES: Property Tax is 1.25% of your purchase price (and rises yearly), we divided it by 12 and add it to the monthly cost of homeownership. (It is actually paid in two installments, Feb & Nov)

INSURANCE: A home or condo needs homeowners insurance, we estimate the yearly premium and add the monthly cost to the total.
This gives the borrower and accurate picture of the monthly cost of the home, even though many of the payments are annual or semi-annual.

DOWN PAYMENT: These days a borrower needs a minimum of 3.5% for their down payment to qualify for an FHA loan. FHA loans do have strings attached and Private Mortgage Insurance is an expensive cost of putting less than 20% down. It’s best to sit down with a lender to discuss your loan options. We have several trusted lenders you can work with.

CLOSING COSTS: Many borrowers expect the need for a down payment but do not understand what “closing costs” are. Closing Costs are the fees associated with purchasing a home. Closing costs run about 3-4% of your purchase price and must be liquid and available. Closing Cost Fee’s included:

Lender Fees: Costs for your loan, including but not limited to, appraisal fees, credit report fee, points (1% of loan amount to pay down your interest rate up front), doc prep, underwriting, administration fees, and wire transfers to name a few.

Title & Escrow Fees: When purchasing property you will also purchase two Title Insurance Policies to ensure the property is yours and no one can stake a claim to your property. The Title & Escrow companies also charges Escrow Fees for handing the monies, loan docs, and recording the property with the county.

Inspections Fees: There are also fees that are paid outside of escrow, such as Inspections on the property that are often given a discount if paid at time of the inspection.

Gift Funds: When a borrower is receiving monies for the home as a gift, the lender will require a paper trail, including a Gift Letter signed by the person giving the gift expressing the money is not a loan and will not expect the money to be paid back. Also, it is best to get that Gift Money upfront to “season” the money in the borrowers bank account. Banks like to see 3-6 months of “seasoning”.

Got Questions – we’re here to help.  Email us @  Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

To read my personal journey through homeownership – visit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!