Thinking of Making an Offer on a Short Sale? What You Need to Know

Are you looking to buy a new home? Are you thinking that now’s a great time to find bargains? That’s true, but it pays to know a little about the seller’s situation before you make an offer.

If a home is being sold for below what the current seller owes on the property—and the seller does not have other funds to make up the difference at closing—the sale is considered a short sale. Many more home owners are finding themselves in this situation due to a number of factors, including job losses, aggressive borrowing against their home in the days of easy credit, and declining home values in a slower real estate market.

A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when the seller’s lender has taken title of the home and is selling it directly. Homeowners often try to accomplish a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. But a short sale holds many potential pitfalls for buyers. Know the risks before you pursue a short-sale purchase.

You’re a good candidate for a short-sale purchase if:

  • You’re very patient. Even after you come to agreement with the seller to buy a short-sale property, the seller’s lender (or lenders, if there is more than one mortgage) has to approve the sale before you can close. When there is only one mortgage, short-sale experts say lender approval typically takes about two months. If there is more than one mortgage with different lenders, it can take four months or longer for the lenders to approve the sale.
  • Your financing is in order. Lenders like cash offers. But even if you can’t pay all cash for a short-sale property, it’s important to show you are well qualified and your financing is set. If you’re preapproved, have a large down payment, and can close at any time, your offer will be viewed more favorably than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.
  • You don’t have any contingencies. If you have a home to sell before you can close on the purchase of the short-sale property—or you need to be in your new home by a certain time—a short sale may not be for you. Lenders like no-contingency offers and flexible closing terms.

If you’re serious about purchasing a short-sale property, it’s important for you to have expert assistance. Here are some people you want to work with:

  • Experienced real estate attorney. Only about two out of five short sales are approved by lenders. But a good real estate attorney who’s knowledgeable about the short-sale process will increase your chances getting an approved contract. Also, if you want any provisions or very specialized language written into the purchase contract, a real estate attorney is essential throughout the negotiation.
  • A qualified real estate professional.* You may have a close friend or relative in real estate, but if that person doesn’t know anything about short sales, working with him or her may hurt your chances of a successful closing. Interview a few practitioners and ask them how many buyers they’ve represented in a short sale and, of those, how many have successfully closed. A qualified real estate professional will be able to show you short-sale homes, help negotiate the purchase when you find the property you want to buy, and smooth communications with the lender. (All MLSs permit, and some now require, special notations to indicate that a listing is a short sale. There also are certain phrases you can watch for, such as “lender approval required.”)
  • Title officer. It’s a good idea to have a title officer do an initial title search on a short-sale property to see all the liens attached to the property. If there are multiple lien holders (e.g., second or third mortgage or lines of credit, real estate tax lien, mechanic’s lien, homeowners association lien, etc.), it’s much tougher to get that short sale contract to the closing table. Any of the lien holders could put a kink in the process even after you’ve waited for months for lender approval. If you don’t know a title officer, your real estate attorney or real estate professional should be able to recommend a few.

Some of the other risks faced by buyers of short-sale properties include:

  • Potential for rejection. Lenders want to minimize their losses as much as possible. If you make an offer tremendously lower than the fair market value of the home, chances are that your offer will be rejected and you’ll have wasted months. Or the lender could make a counteroffer, which will lengthen the process.
  • Bad terms. Even when a lender approves a short sale, it could require that the sellers sign a promissory note to repay the deficient amount of the loan, which may not be acceptable to some financially desperate sellers. In that case, the sellers may refuse to go through with the short sale. Lenders also can change any of the terms of the contract that you’ve already negotiated, which may not be agreeable to you.
  • No repairs or repair credits. You will most likely be asked to take the property “as is.” Lenders are already taking a loss on the property and may not agree to requests for repair credits.

The risks of a short sale are considerable. But if you have the time, patience, and iron will to see it through, a short sale can be a win-win for you and the sellers.  I have much experience with short sales, so contact me for assistance.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

* Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and is bound by NAR’s strict code of ethics.

Note: This article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.

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10 Questions to Ask Home Inspectors

Before you make your final buying or selling decision, you should have the home inspected by a professional. An inspection can alert you to potential problems with a property and allow you to make an informed decision. Ask these questions to prospective home inspectors:

1. Will your inspection meet recognized standards? Ask whether the inspection and the inspection report will meet all state requirements and comply with a well-recognized standard of practice and code of ethics, such as the one adopted by the American Society of Home Inspectors or the National Association of Home Inspectors. Customers can view each group’s standards of practice and code of ethics online at www.ashi.org or www.nahi.org. ASHI’s Web site also provides a database of state regulations.

2. Do you belong to a professional home inspector association? There are many state and national associations for home inspectors, including the two groups mentioned in No. 1. Unfortunately, some groups confer questionable credentials or certifications in return for nothing more than a fee. Insist on members of reputable, nonprofit trade organizations; request to see a membership ID.

3. How experienced are you? Ask how long inspectors have been in the profession and how many inspections they’ve completed. They should provide customer referrals on request. New inspectors also may be highly qualified, but they should describe their training and let you know whether they plan to work with a more experienced partner.

4. How do you keep your expertise up to date? Inspectors’ commitment to continuing education is a good measure of their professionalism and service. Advanced knowledge is especially important in cases in which a home is older or includes unique elements requiring additional or updated training.

5. Do you focus on residential inspection? Make sure the inspector has training and experience in the unique discipline of home inspection, which is very different from inspecting commercial buildings or a construction site. If your customers are buying a unique property, such as a historic home, they may want to ask whether the inspector has experience with that type of property in particular.

6. Will you offer to do repairs or improvements? Some state laws and trade associations allow the inspector to provide repair work on problems uncovered during the inspection. However, other states and associations forbid it as a conflict of interest. Contact your local ASHI chapter to learn about the rules in your state.

7. How long will the inspection take? On average, an inspector working alone inspects a typical single-family house in two to three hours; anything significantly less may not be thorough. If your customers are purchasing an especially large property, they may want to ask whether additional inspectors will be brought in.

8. What’s the cost? Costs can vary dramatically, depending on your region, the size and age of the house, and the scope of services. The national average for single-family homes is about $320, but customers with large homes can expect to pay more. Customers should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.

9. What type of inspection report do you provide? Ask to see samples to determine whether you will understand the inspector’s reporting style. Also, most inspectors provide their full report within 24 hours of the inspection.

10. Will I be able to attend the inspection? The answer should be yes. A home inspection is a valuable educational opportunity for the buyer. An inspector’s refusal to let the buyer attend should raise a red flag.

I can recommend a few excellent home inspectors.  Call me when you need one!

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

6 Creative Ways to Afford a Home

You can be creative in pulling your funds together to buy a home!  Check out these suggestions.

1. Investigate local, state, and national down payment assistance programs. These programs give qualified applicants loans or grants to cover all or part of your required down payment.  Ask your lender which programs are available for you.

2. Explore seller financing. In some cases, sellers may be willing to finance all or part of the purchase price of the home and let you repay them gradually, just as you would do with a mortgage.

3. Consider a shared-appreciation or shared-equity arrangement. Under this arrangement, your family, friends, or even a third-party may buy a portion of the home and share in any appreciation when the home is sold. The owner/occupant usually pays the mortgage, property taxes, and maintenance costs, but all the investors’ names are usually on the mortgage. Companies are available that can help you find such an investor, if your family can’t participate.

4. Ask your family for help. Perhaps a family member will loan you money for the down payment or act as a co-signer for the mortgage. Lenders often like to have a co-signer if you have little credit history.

5. Lease with the option to buy. Renting the home for a year or more will give you the chance to save more toward your down payment. And in many cases, owners will apply some of the rental amount toward the purchase price. You usually have to pay a small, nonrefundable option fee to the owner.

6. Consider a short-term second mortgage. If you can qualify for a short-term second mortgage, this would give you money to make a larger down payment. This may be possible if you’re in good financial standing, with a strong income and little other debt.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible.

1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.

2. Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.

3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.

4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.

5. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.

6. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

7. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.

8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

9. Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.

10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership

It’s time to stop paying rent! So what is the next step?

1. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment?  Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
6. Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.

7. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.

I am here to help you through this process!

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

First-Time Homebuyers Face the Opportunity of a Lifetime

Today’s first-time homebuyers are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Mortgage rates in early December stood near lows last seen during the Truman administration while home prices were well off their peaks of previous years. The combination made housing affordability, as measured by the National Association of REALTORS®, the highest since NAR® launched its Affordability Index in 1973.

Housing inventory is also abundant in many markets, enabling first-timers to secure good homes and pave the way to their financial futures. Indeed, homes and their long-term virtues of shelter, wealth-building and personal and civic pride are available at bargain-basement prices that won’t, or can’t, last.

Naturally, first-timers have many questions about home buying, starting with costs. With research and the services of a licensed real estate professional, these consumers can demystify the process and place themselves on the fast track to homeownership.

Knowledge is power – Nine out of every 10 home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few mouse clicks, you can peruse neighborhoods, search countless online listings and take virtual tours packed with detailed photographs. The process gives you working knowledge of home availability and pricing in your local markets so by the time you sit down with your real estate sales professional you’re well on your way.

Affordability – Costs involved in the purchase of a home – mortgage, down payment and closing expenditures – can be overwhelming to first-time homebuyers. By looking at your income and debt ratio, your real estate professional can help you calculate how much you can afford each month in mortgage payments. But before determining your price range, you should also take into consideration other factors that will affect your monthly budget once you are a homeowner, such as property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance. And if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the cost of the home, you will be responsible for private mortgage insurance.

Mortgage payment – In today’s buyers market, you may face competition for your dream home. To establish your spending limit and gain the ability to move quickly on a home, get pre-approved for a loan before you start looking. The fact that your loan has already been approved is of great value to the seller because it shortens the purchase process, and there is less of a chance that the buyer will back out of the sale. This process will also help you identify any credit challenges you must address prior to your purchase.

If you don’t have a specific mortgage lender in mind, ask your sales professional for a recommendation.

Down payment – The down payment amount varies depending on the value of the home you choose and your mortgage lender. First-time homebuyers may also qualify for down-payment assistance programs and grants available through their states and municipalities. Contact your state housing finance authority, county housing and community development office for an application.

Closing costs must be factored in as well. These include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance or homeowner association fees. All told, buyers should spend no more than 28% of their income on housing costs, according to Fannie Mae. Your real estate professional will be able to explain your options.

Making offers – Make sure you visit several different homes to get a feel for the marketplace. Visit the ones you like again to see things you might have missed. Work with your real estate professional to get all of your questions answered before making an offer. And remember there are no silly questions. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with every aspect of the transaction.

Indeed, home ownership remains a sound financial decision for most and a key component of long-term financial planning. First-time buyers who seek homes for all the right reasons – a place to raise a family, build for the future and face life’s opportunities and challenges – can secure their dreams and build for their futures at some of the most attractive values in years.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!

What You Can Do to Improve Your Credit

Credit scores, along with your overall income and debt, are big factors in determining whether you’ll qualify for a loan and what your loan terms will be. So, keep your credit score high by doing the following:

1. Check for and correct any errors in your credit report. Mistakes happen, and you could be paying for someone else’s poor financial management.

2. Pay down credit card bills. If possible, pay off the entire balance every month. Transferring credit card debt from one card to another could lower your score.

3. Don’t charge your credit cards to the maximum limit.

4. Wait 12 months after credit difficulties to apply for a mortgage. You’re penalized less for problems after a year.

5. Don’t order items for your new home on credit — such as appliances and furniture — until after the loan is approved. The amounts will add to your debt.

6. Don’t open new credit card accounts before applying for a mortgage. Too much available credit can lower your score.

7. Shop for mortgage rates all at once. Too many credit applications can lower your score, but multiple inquiries from the same type of lender are counted as one inquiry if submitted over a short period of time.

8. Avoid finance companies. Even if you pay the loan on time, the interest is high and it will probably be considered a sign of poor credit management.

9. Check out these links: The Basics of Credit Scoring and Insider Secrets to an Optimal Credit Score. I highly recommend you checking out these links for additional information.

If you apply all these suggestions, taking them one at a time, your credit will be shining pretty! Call me if you want more help on this. I can get you set up on a personal program.

This information is copyrighted by the Fannie Mae Foundation and is used with permission of the Fannie Mae Foundation.

All my best, 
Myra Spano, REALTOR® 
 

About the Author:
 
Myra Spano is a service and results oriented real estate agent with her client’s goals as top priority.  Myra is recognized as a top producing agent in her office in Virginia Beach and enjoys working with both buyers and those selling their homes.
 

For information about purchasing a home in Virginia Beach, visit her website.  This site is focused on homes available for sale in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  Email, call or text to make an appointment begin your home search.


If you are considering selling your home in Virginia Beach or one of the surrounding areas, visit the seller’s website to request a Free Market Analysis of your property.
 
Myra Spano & Prudential Towne Realty is awaiting to provide the real estate guidance you need.  Contact us now to make your home dreams come true!