Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Can a real estate agent really help me in buying and selling property?



The answer is YES!

When you're ready to think about buying or selling your property, you need to ask yourself the following questions: Do you have the time, energy, sources of information, and contacts to do the job yourself? If you were one of the 'do-it-yourself' people, would the results be as good or better than they would be if you had professional assistance? Would it have gone smoother? Would it have given you more personal time? Would you have purchased for less, or sold for more, if a real estate agent was involved? Read the following information and learn how a real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about a real estate transaction.

The Buying Process

The process of buying a home or investment generally starts with determining your buying power; that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a real estate agent some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, they can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.

Finding

Once you know how much you can and want to invest, the next step is to find the properties that most nearly fit your needs. This is the time to choose a real estate licensee. When picking a real estate agent look for one who is also a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a real estate trade association, and all members agree to abide by a 17 article Code of Ethics.

A REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in that search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

Selecting

Your job is to make the final selection of the right property for you. This is when excitement and emotion run high. Your real estate agent can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

Negotiating

There are a myriad of negotiating factors, including, but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should also provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

Due Diligence

With a negotiated agreement in hand, it is time to complete the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few.

Your agent can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your agent, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

Financing

As soon as you are reasonably sure the property is right for you, the process of obtaining financing begins. Your agent can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

Closing or Settlement

Finally, there is the closing, or settlement, as it is known in different parts of the country. Every area has its own unique customs. In some areas, the title or escrow company will handle this process. In other parts of the country, an attorney does it all. Again, your real estate agent can guide you through this process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

Selling Real Estate

Pricing
This process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your real estate agent can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms, and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

Marketing
The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public.

In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your agent acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

Advertising is part of marketing.

The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. For example, in some areas, newspaper advertising generates phone calls to the real estate office but statistically has minimum effectiveness in selling a specific property. Overexposure of a property in any media may give a buyer the impression the property is distressed or the seller is desperate. Your real estate agent will know when, where and how to advertise your property.

There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends and family, and personal contacts.

Security

When the property is marketed with the agent help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

Negotiating

The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers, as noted above under the buying process. Your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections, and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

Monitoring, Renegotiating and Closing

Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

Real estate agents or brokers are generally paid through the sales commission paid by the seller when a transaction closes. Agents have expenses and financial obligations just like you, so it will be to your mutual benefit if you choose a real estate agent and stick with that person. The agent will respect your loyalty and respond with a sincere commitment to you.

Why A REALTOR®?

All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR "®" logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

Using a REALTOR®

You Be the Judge!

Real Estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Home Buying Glossary

Agent - A person acting on behalf of another, called the principal.

Appraisal - An expert judgment or estimate of the quality or value of real estate as of a given date.

Assessed Value - The valuation placed upon property by a public tax assessor as the basis for taxes.

Bill of Sale - An instrument which transfers title to personal property (chattels); a "Deed" transfers'' real property.

CC& R''s: Covenants, conditions and restrictions- A document that controls the use, requirements and restrictions of a property.

Certificate of Reasonable Value (CRV) - A document that establishes the maximum value and loan amount for a VA guaranteed mortgage.

Certificate of Title - A document signed by a title examiner or attorney stating that the seller has a good marketable and insurable title.

Closing Statement (Settlement) - The computation of financial adjustments between buyer and seller as of the day of closing a sale to determine the net amount of money which buyer must pay to seller to complete purchase of the real estate and seller''s net proceeds. Also, "settlement sheets," "HUD-1."

Commission - Payment to a real estate broker for services performed.

Condominium - A form of real estate ownership where the owner receives title to a particular unit and has a proportionate interest in certain common areas. The unit itself is generally a separately owned space whose interior surfaces (walls, floors and ceilings) serve as its boundaries.

Contingency - A condition that must be satisfied before a contract is binding. For instance, a sales agreement may be contingent upon the buyer obtaining financing.

Deed - A formal written instrument by which title to real property is transferred from one owner to another. Also, "conveyance".

Deed of Trust - Like a mortgage, a security instrument whereby real property is given as security for a debt. However, in a deed of trust there are three parties to the instrument; the borrower, the trustee, and the lender (or beneficiary).

Due-On-Sale Clause - An acceleration clause that requires full payment of a mortgage or deed of trust when the secured property changes ownership.

Earnest Money - The portion of the down payment delivered to the seller or escrow agent by the purchaser with a written offer as evidence of good faith.

Equity - The interest or value which owner has in real estate over and above the debts against it. (Sales Price - Mortgage Balance - Equity).

Escrow- A procedure in which a third party acts as a stakeholder for both the buyer and the seller, carrying out both parties'' instructions and assumes responsibility for handling all of the paperwork and distribution of funds.

Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) - Popularly known as Fannie Mae. A privately owned corporation created by Congress to support the secondary mortgage market. It purchases and sells residential mortgages insured by FHA or guaranteed by the VA, as well as conventional home mortgages.

Fee Simple - An estate in which the owner has unrestricted power to dispose of the property as he wishes, including leaving by will or inheritance. It is the greatest interest a person can have in real estate.

Fixture - What was formerly personal property, which is now permanently attached to real property and goes with the property when it is sold.

Graduated Payment Mortgage - A residential mortgage with monthly payments that start at a low level and increase at a predetermined rate.

Hazard Insurance - Protects against damages caused to property by fire, windstorms, and other common hazards.

Home Inspection Report - A qualified inspector''s report on a property''s overall condition. The report usually includes an evaluation of both the structure and mechanical systems.

Home Warranty Plan - Protection against failure of mechanical systems within the property. Usually includes plumbing, electrical, heating systems and installed appliances.

Joint Tenancy - An equal undivided ownership of property by two or more persons. Upon the death of any owner, the survivors take the decedent''s interest in the property.

Lien - A legal hold or claim on property as security for a debt or charge.

Listing Contract - Between a home owner (as principal) and a licensed real estate broker (as agent) by which the broker is employed to market the real estate within a given time for which service the owner agrees to pay a commission. Also, "listing agreement".

Loan Commitment - A written promise to make a loan for a specified amount on specified terms.

Loan-To-Value Ratio - The relationship between the amount of the mortgage and the appraised value of the property, expressed as a percentage of the appraised value.

Market Value - The highest price which a buyer, ready, willing and able but not compelled to buy, would pay, and the lowest price a seller, ready, willing and able but, not compelled to sell, would accept. Basis for "listing price'', or "asking price".

Mortgage - A lien or claim against real property given by the buyer to the lender as security for money borrowed.

Mortgage Life Insurance - A type of term life insurance often bought by mortgagors. The coverage decreases as the mortgage balance declines. If the borrower dies while the policy is in force, the debt is automatically covered by insurance proceeds.

Mortgage Note - A written agreement to repay a loan. The agreement is secured by a mortgage, serves as proof of indebtedness, and states the manner in which it shall be paid. Also, "deed of trust note."

Negative Amortization - Negative amortization occurs when monthly payments fail to cover the interest cost. The interest that isn''t covered is added to the unpaid principal balance, which means that even after several payments you could owe more than you did at the beginning of the loan. Negative amortization can occur when an ARM has a payment cap that results in monthly payments that aren''t high enough to cover the interest.

Origination Fee - A fee or charge for work involved in evaluating, preparing, and submitting a proposed mortgage loan. The fee is limited to 1 percent of FHA and VA loans.

PITI - Principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

Planned Unit Development (PUD) - A zoning designation for property developed at the same or slightly greater overall density than conventional development, sometimes with improvements clustered between open, common areas. Uses may be residential, commercial or industrial.

Point - An amount equal to 1 percent of the principal amount of the investment or note. The lender assesses loan discount points at closing to increase the yield on the mortgage to a position competitive with other types of investments.

Prepayment Penalty - A fee charged to a mortgagor who pays a loan before it is due. Not allowed for FHA or VA loans.

Principal - This word has several meanings:
a) to denote the most important;
b) a capital sum lent on interest;
c) one who appoints an agent to act on their behalf;
d) either party to a contract.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) - Insurance written by a private company protecting the lender against loss if the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Prorate - To allocate between seller and buyer their proportionate share of an obligation paid or due. For example a prorate on real property taxes, fire insurance, or condominium fee.

Purchase Agreement - A written document in which the purchaser agrees to buy certain real estate and the seller agrees to sell under stated terms and conditions. Also called a sales contract, earnest money contract, or agreement for sale.

Realtor - A real estate broker or associate active in a local real estate board affiliated with the National Association of Realtors¿.

Regulation Z - The set of rules governing consumer lending issued by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in accordance with the Consumer Protection act.

Survey - A map or plat made by a licensed surveyor showing the results of measuring the land with its elevations, improvements, boundaries, and its relationship to surrounding tracts of land. A survey is often required by the lender to assure a building is actually sited on the land according to its legal description.

Tenancy in Common - A type of joint ownership of property by two or more persons with no right of survivorship.

Title Insurance - Protects lenders and homeowners against loss of their interest in property due to legal defects in title.

Title Search or Examination - A check of the title records, generally at the local courthouse, to make sure the buyer is purchasing a house from the legal owner and there are no liens, overdue special assessments, or other claims.

Transfer tax - State tax, local tax (where applicable) and tax stamps (in some areas) required by law when title passes from one owner to another.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

National Association of Realtors goes global with new services for international buyers

The National Association of Realtors, the number one homes for sale website in the US, is going global.
It aims to be the world’s largest online source of residential property listings and add more services such as translation, to attract more international buyers and sellers.

Its Realtor.com listing website already attracts more than 575,000 consumers from non US destinations a month.

‘While all real estate in the US is local, the same is not true for property owners. The US continues to be a top destination for international buyers from all over the world. Foreign buyers understand the value of owning a home in this country and can rely on Realtors(R) to help guide them through the process of buying property here,’ said NAR president Ron Phipps.

‘Realtor.com will expand the exposure of US real estate listings to global markets and add international listings. With expertise, knowledge and experience, Realtors(R) have a global perspective, reflecting the increasing importance of foreign buyers to US sellers,’ Phipps added.

NAR will work with Move Inc, the leader in online real estate and operator of Realtor.com, to add features to make it easier for international buyers to search for listings in their language and through personalized views.

‘This expansion of the strategic collaboration between Move and NAR benefits Realtors(R), provides home sellers with access to an even broader audience beyond our domestic borders, and delivers greater choice to home buyers interested in property in the US and internationally,’ said Realtor.com president Errol Samuelson.

‘US sellers will be able to generate even greater international exposure for their properties, while US buyers will be able to shop for global properties and connect with real estate professionals who can help them with international transactions,’ Samuelson added.

NAR’s 2010 Profile of International Home Buying Activity cites the strength of the dollar and the value and desirability of US real estate as the chief factors making US properties increasingly attractive to international buyers.

Between April 2009 and March 31, 2010, $66 billion of residential property, amounting to 7% of the total US residential market, was sold to foreign nationals, recent immigrants and temporary visa holders. More than a quarter of Realtors(R), some 28%, reported working with at least one international client in the past year, up from 23% in 2008.

The median price paid by foreign buyers was $219,400, higher than the national median price. Some 55% of foreign buyers paid cash compared to about 8% of domestic buyers, NAR’s study also shows.

Buyers from 53 different countries around the world bought residential property in the US last year with then highest number coming from Canada, Mexico, the UK, China, Germany and France. The top sources of international visitors to Realtor.com are Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan and Mexico.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Mortgage Activity Surges in Florida and New York

RISMEDIA, December 6, 2010—According to new consumer activity collected by MortgageLoan.com between October 15 and November 15, 2010, the New York City metro area and cities in Florida saw overall increases in mortgage and refinance requests. Requests in Boston, Texas, and the Southwest were mixed.

While the New York City Metro area showed a 17% increase in overall request volume, Florida was the real winner with a 71% increase in refinance requests in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and a 47% increase in Orlando.

"The dramatic increase in refinance activity in Florida markets suggests that home values may be stabilizing in many areas," says David Coster, residential lending expert at MortgageLoan.com. "Recent home price surveys, which do not look at secondary markets, have shown further value drops. Yet our site activity provides anecdotal evidence that may indicate more positive attitudes among Florida homeowners relative to their refinancing prospects."

The Boston metro area market showed a 32% increase in mortgage purchase activity, yet a 23% drop in refinance activity. "It is suggestive of a situation in which first time homebuyers, in-bound relocated employees, or investors are taking advantage of lowered home values," says Coster. "At the same time, existing homeowners are still struggling with homes that cannot be refinanced due to value, credit, or employment issues."

The Houston, Texas area saw a 17% decrease in overall requests. Other Texas and Southwestern markets also saw declines in refinance activity, including a 38% decrease in Phoenix, Arizona, a 32% decrease in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a 26% decrease in San Antonio Texas, and a 24% decrease in Fort Worth, Texas.

The overall site activity at MortgageLoan.com indicates a housing market that varies from market to market and from month to month. Still, signs of marginal improvement appear to be creeping into the data.


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Friday, December 03, 2010

Holiday Safety Tips

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa or a personal holiday, the season is upon us for decorating our homes inside and outside. Here at SAFE we want to wish you all very Happy Holidays!

But, we also want you to remain alert and diligent with your safety and the safety of your family. Here are more ways to reduce your chances of being victimized during the holiday season. We would like you to be especially careful with your Christmas trees. This is how fast an accident can happen. Click Here To View The Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQT8yOYJKxQ

Safety at Home

Home Invasions increase during holidays at an alarming rate. To decrease your chances of being victimized follow these simple procedures.

* Keep the outside of your home well lit with all doors and windows locked and curtains or blinds closed.

* Do not put presents under the tree where burglars can see them.

* When away, not only have outside lights but inside lights on timers.

* When traveling make your home look occupied. Have a friend pick up newspapers and mail. Have someone mow your yard or shovel snow. And be sure someone is clearing any fliers or ads off your porch, doors and cars.

* After the holidays, don't advertise the gifts you received by leaving the boxes at the curb for garbage collection. Thieves will be on the look out for the homes that got the best presents, like that new flat screen TV, computer or game system. Cut or tear boxes up and put them in garbage bags.

Home Safety-Decorations

* Inspect all decorations before putting them out.

* Ensure all decorations are fire retardant or fire resistant.

* Use only lighting sets which bear the UL marker.

* Ensure items such as tinsel and fragile glass bulbs are placed high enough on a tree or mantle to prevent small children and pets from coming into contact with them. * Avoid overloading wall outlets and extension cords.

* Inspect light strings and cords for fraying, bare wire, loose connections and broken sockets.

* When using candles, place them a safe distance from combustibles.

* Place candles in sturdy containers. Remember hot wax can burn kids and pets.

* Extinguish candles before leaving the house or going to bed.

* Always have an operable fire extinguisher readily available.

* Install at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Home Safety-Outdoor Decorations

* Never use indoor extension cords outside.

* Keep electrical connectors above ground and out of puddles and snow.

* Unplug a light string before replacing a bulb.

* Make sure when hanging lights in trees, the tree is not touching power lines.

Home Safety for Pets

* Pets are fascinated by decorations such as hanging strings, cords, sashes, tree decorations and flashing lights. To be safe, always supervise a pet closely during the holiday season.

* Guests can frighten and/or anger a pet. It is always best to remove pets from noisy gatherings, especially those pets not used to large groups or children.

Safety with Artificial Christmas Trees

* When selecting an artificial tree, select a model that is fire retardant/fire resistant.

* If the tree has a built-in electrical system, it should carry the UL (underwriter's laboratories) marker.

* Check the tree frequently, do not let it get overheated and never leave it on overnight or when you are not home.

* Never use electric lights on a metallic tree, use colored spotlights instead.

Safety with Real Christmas Trees

* When selecting a tree, get one with a deep green color and a strong scent of pine.

* Make sure the needles are attached firmly to the twigs and can be bent without breaking. This ensures a recently cut tree, fresh and not dried. If the needles fall off easily, the tree is already dead.

* Cut about 2 inches off the trunk and mount it in a sturdy, water-holding stand.

*Keep the tree supplied with an adequate amount of water to keep it from drying out.

* Never set the tree close to heat sources such as registers, computers, radiators or fireplaces.

We wish you a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa! May your holidays be filled with joy! And remember, "Just be safe!"

Cuatro razones por las que 2016 será el año para comprar casa en Estados Unidos

(CNNMoney) -  Si has estado renuente a comprar una casa, 2016 es el año para dar el paso, al menos en el mercado estadounidense. Las ta...