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!

A Candid Moment with Short Sales

Who knew – two 5-letter words could be so dirty?

SHORT SALES

Those two words can send buyers, sellers, Realtors and Escrow Officers into a tissy.

Why you ask?  The dreaded long process and seemingly endless wait.

Allow me a moment to break down how these two words work.

To a seller, the words Short Sale mean one thing – their home is no longer worth as much as they owe.  Then – say they should need to sell it – now they need to ask the bank to agree and take less than the loan is worth.  Banks don’t like doing this.  They know real estate is cyclical, they can’t go back and redo everyone’s loan just because the value went down.  I digress.  The sad truth, the seller has to jump through many, many, many hoops – in the form of paperwork and documentation etc etc to successfully sell their home.  And that’s if the buyer doesn’t tire of waiting and walk!!!  And should a buyer walk – because sometimes they need to move on – the seller has to start at square one again – and oh what a fun square that is.

To a buyer, the words Short Sale means “sit down and wait”.  Why?  The seller generally can’t start their short sale request until AFTER they accept an offer.  And once the bank receives the offer, it can take months just to get that paperwork in front of a real decision maker, negotiator to be exact.  Since this wait time is long and sometimes a better opportunity presents itself – buyers sometimes tire of the wait and rescind, cancel, their offer.  It happens.  However, because Short Sales can be difficult, their are opportunities for buyers to purchase a property under market value.  Which creates instant equity!  In our experience, the offer you write in November is low compared to the values of comparbale properties by the time you close escrow and own that home in May.  (For more specific market info please email us info@TheCatonTeam.com)

For those in the real estate industry – the words Short Sale mean being on top of your game, having a team of professionals behind you and being diligent.  Which, in essence is what Realtors should do in the first place.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns – we’d love to hear from you – email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

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

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

Next Stop – Bank Owned Properties – aka: The REO

Tips on How to Manage and Repair Your Credit

Establishing good credit is essential in today’s consumer environment.  It is most critical when considering the purchase of a home and acquiring a mortgage.

5 Key Steps to Managing Your Credit

  • Make your payments on time!

o   A late payment affects your credit quickly!

  • · Don’t max out your credit card – try to keep the balance at 50% or less.

o Its best to have a few cards at a half balance than 1 card maxed out

§ This rule is particularly true when you are shopping for a home loan

  • · Don’t close ANY OLD credit cards!

o You will loose your “start” date and never get it back.  The longer you have a card open the better it is for your credit score.

  • · Do NOT open Store credit cards (i.e. A department store or music store)

o However, if you already have some open – DO NOT CLOSE THEM EITHER – just keep them active and paid on time!

  • · Keep your credit open & active.  For the cards you do have – use them every 3 months – allow them to send you a statement and then pay if off!

o It does you no good to use it and then pay it off online when you get home – you need the credit company to report the use to the bureaus and this happens every 30 days (when you get your statement).

  • · Check your credit report every 3 to 6 months to prevent identity theft.

o Try http://www.annualcreditreport.com

  • · Do not pay for your credit score – too many inquires done yourself will bring your score down!

Key Steps to Repairing Your Credit

Much like managing your credit well – repairing your credit requires the same rules.  If you are shopping for a home loan and your score is too low here are some key steps to heal your credit.

  • · Start making ALL your payments ON TIME no matter what!

o Your credit score can heal itself every 30 days

  • · Start to consolidate your debt by paying off the high interest cards first while maintaining monthly    payments on the other cards.
  • · DO NOT OPEN any new lines of credit at all.

o When shopping for a home loan you could ruin your credit score and debt to income ratio with too many lines of credit.

  • · DO NOT use a “credit repair” company
And SPEND WISELY – being a homeowner is like being a squirrel – sock away that money for a rainy day and create a budget you can live with and save with.
Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help – email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/
To read my personal journey through homeownership – visit http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/  Enjoy!

A Quick Review on Short Sales

SHORT SALES

What is a “Short Sale”?

A short sale is a property that will go into foreclosure if not sold before the three month “non-payment mark” and “notice of default” is filed. When an owner is in distress and they know they can no longer afford their mortgage    payment – they should contact their Realtor and their bank immediately to discuss the possibility of the bank receiving less than what is owed. The term “short sale” refers to the agreement that the bank will accept less than the amount of the loan they have on the property. This course of action is the last chance an owner has to get out of the loan and keep their head above water. A bank will not agree to a short sale if the owner has other assets they can   liquidate to bring the loan current.

Why Would a Bank Accept a Short Sale?

Banks would much rather not hold foreclosed property. And in a short sale they will probably receive more money than at a foreclosure sale. However, not all owners will qualify for a short sale agreement. The circumstances around a short sale vary. For example, perhaps through a job loss or other reason they have been unable to make regular     mortgage payments and that balance due plus late fees are added to the total loan amount. Suddenly the owner may owe more on their loan than the home can sell for. If the owner forecasts that they can no longer manage their monthly payments they will need to contact their bank in advance to    begin negotiations. However, the owner cannot have any other assets available. If so, those resources will have to be exhausted first before the bank will agree to a short sale. In this case, before the 3-month mark of    foreclosure – the owner can place the home on the market and see how much they get. The home will be listed by a Realtor and advertised as a short sale – where time is very much of the essence. Interested buyers will need to act quickly in order to purchase before foreclosure proceedings begin.

Another reason a short sale can become an option is when, due to market changes, a seller owes more on the property than it is currently worth. For example – Let’s say the owner purchased the home 2 years ago and paid top dollar for it. Since buying a home is a long-term investment; 2 years generally doesn’t give the owner time for the property to appreciate. Suddenly, for whatever reason, they are unable to make their monthly mortgage payment and cannot sell their property for what they purchased it for. They find themselves “upside down”. Meaning the market has changed and the value of the property has dropped from where it was when they purchased it. As professional Realtors – we advise our clients when purchasing a property that they will need to hold their investment for a minimum of 5 years to see appreciation. In this particular case, no matter what, the loan on the property is greater than what the home can be sold for. If the bank agrees, the home will be listed by a Realtor and advertised as a short sale where interested parities will need to act quickly before foreclosure proceedings begin.

Why Should a Buyer Consider Purchasing a Short Sale?

Because the clock is ticking on short sales – it can be very advantageous for the new buyer to purchase under these   circumstances. Short sales are no fault of the property. Your Realtor will do a comparative market analysis to inform you of current home values to help you better decide your purchase price. Although disclosures and inspections may not be available for the property – the opportunity to perform inspections is allowed by the bank. Time is of the  essence, so a buyer will have to act quickly. The bank has agreed for a limited time to take the highest offer received – there is the opportunity for the buyer to purchase the property at below market value – thus having instant equity.

Before you get involved with a short sale purchase or sale – consult a Real Estate Attorney and a professional Realtor.

For all your real estate questions please contact The Caton Team  Email:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com  Website:  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!

A Quick Review on Foreclosures

With all the media coverage surrounding foreclosures, auctions and short sales we hear our clients ask for clarification every day. So here are some quick answers to these confusing questions. Please feel free to contact us to explain this further by email at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

FORECLOSURES

 How Do You Fall into Foreclosure?

When an owner can no longer afford their mortgage and stops making payments all together – they are waiting for the bank to foreclose on them. (Highly unadvisable course of action – contact your Professional Realtor for advice if you can no longer pay your mortgage immediately!) After about 3 months of non-payment, the bank will file a “notice of default” and inform the owner that unless they bring their account current immediately – they will be foreclosed upon. Meaning, the owner will be evicted, their credit ruined and the bank will take possession of the property. Now the bank owns the property and needs to sell it. They will either list the property with a Realtor and sell it as a “REO” – a bank owned property – or they will sell the property at auction to the highest bidder.

How Do You Buy a Foreclosure?

For those who are inexperienced in Real Estate – buying a foreclosure at auction is NOT the way to start investing. Generally, when the property goes to auction – the buyer must have liquid assets to purchase the property immediately. Generally one cannot acquire a loan to buy a foreclosed property at auction. Another concern is disclosures. A      property being sold in a foreclosure auction usually does not have inspections or disclosures informing the potential purchaser of the condition of the property or the condition of title. A drive by of the property is allowed and rarely there is a date to view the property where the buyer can bring their own inspectors to view the home at their own cost. This type of transaction is truly a “Buyer Beware” scenario.

However, instead of the bank auctioning off the property – they may list the home with a Realtor and sell it as a “REO”. In this case, the home is placed on the market like any other home sale and available to view with your     Realtor. Usually there are no disclosures or inspections of the property – if the buyer were concerned they would have to pay for their own inspections to determine the condition of the home. In some cases limited disclosures are available to the buyer – nonetheless, this is still a “Buyer Beware” scenario and as professional Realtors we advise all our clients to go forward and pay for their own inspections before they write an offer – or incorporate time for inspections in the offer.

Final Thoughts on Foreclosures

Though they sounds so tempting on TV, foreclosures can be a messy business and we haven’t even touched on the issues of other lien holders, tax liens, other loans remaining on the home or “investor” purchase issues. Before you get involved with a foreclosure purchase – consult a Real Estate Attorney.

For all your real estate questions – contact The Caton Team Email: Info@TheCatonTeam.com Website:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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