What To Know When Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

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From beginning to end, it is a real estate agent helping you select, negotiate, and legally purchase your new home. Choosing the right real estate agent to help guide you through the whole process isn’t easy. Here’s an overview of what you need to know.

THE AGENCY RELATIONSHIP

Real estate agents are licensed by the State of Connecticut to represent a person in the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property. The Agency Relationship is based on one person representing the interests of another person.
The responsibility of the real estate agent is defined by the state law relating to agents, the REALTORS®’ Code of Ethics, and general principles of agency law.
The type of relationship formed between the agent and the client is called a fiduciary relationship. A fiduciary relationship is one based on trust because the agent owes the following duties to the client: Loyalty, Obedience, Diligence, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accountability and Reasonable Skill & Care.

THE FOUR TYPES OF AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS

BUYER AGENCY
A Buyer’s Agent represents the interests exclusively of the buyer in a real estate transaction.
A Buyer’s Agent:
o        Arranges property showings that meet the buyer’s needs.
o        Provides information about the home or property, community, schools, taxes, utilities, and zoning.
o        Discloses any information about the property that can be obtained from public sources.
o        Prepares a competitive market analysis on the property.
o        Counsels the buyer on what price to offer the seller.
o        Shows what other buyers are paying for property in the area.
o        Assists in writing an offer with the buyer’s interests in mind.
o        Negotiates the best price and terms for the buyer.
o        Keeps the price capabilities and objectives of the buyer confidential    and maintains anonymity, if desired.
o        Assists with the loan application process.
o        Monitors all dates, events, and requirements.
o        Attends the closing with the buyer.

SELLER AGENCY

A Seller’s Agent represents the interests exclusively of the seller in a real estate transaction.
A Seller’s Agent:
o        Prepares a competitive market analysis of the seller’s home or property.
o        Develops and implements effective marketing strategies for the seller, including asking price, staging, and positioning.
o        Informs the seller how much other homes and properties have sold for in the area.
o        Presents all offers and counsels seller on what price to accept.
o        Negotiates exclusively on the seller’s behalf.
o        Updates the seller on market conditions.
o        Prepares an estimate of closing costs.
o        Works closely with seller to assure a smooth closing.
o        Monitors all dates, events, and requirements for the seller.
o        Represents the seller’s interest at the buyer’s walkthrough inspection.
o        Attends the closing with the seller.

DUAL AGENCY

Legal in all 50 states, Dual Agency occurs when a buyer’s agent shows a property to a buyer that is also represented by that REALTOR®’s firm, or when the Listing agency shows real estate to a buyer that is also represented by the same firm. In dual agency situations, both the buyer and seller will be asked to sign a consent agreement.
A Dual Agent owes both the buyer and seller equal representation and must:
o        Treat both parties fairly.
o        Not knowingly represent one party to the detriment of the other.
o        Disclose facts each party needs to make an informed decision.
o        To assist, as the buyer and seller are empowered to negotiate on their own behalf.
o        Assure confidentiality on each party’s price, terms, and personal information.

DESIGNATED AGENCY

Buyers and sellers have an option when the real estate brokerage firm is a dual agent. That option is called Designated Agency. In designated agency, the real estate brokerage firm will designate a salesperson to represent the buyer and another salesperson to represent the seller. The designated buyer’s agent will act as an agent for the buyer as described in “buyer agency” above. The designated seller’s agent will act as an agent for the seller as described in “seller agency” above. This is the case even though each of the salespeople is from the same real estate brokerage firm.

The seller and the buyer must each agree to having a salesperson designated for them, and the real estate broker in charge of the brokerage firm must make the designation.

UNREPRESENTED PERSONS
A person is Unrepresented by a real estate agent unless he or she has signed a representation agreement with that agent.
The real estate agent cannot provide advice or counsel to an Unrepresented Person on matters pertaining to real estate, including real estate financing. An Unrepresented Person has the responsibility to protect his or her own interests.

All real estate agents are obligated by law to treat all parties to a real estate transaction honestly irrespective of whom they represent in the transaction.

This information is reprinted courtesy of:

CONNECTICUT ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, INC.

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Why Every Home Buyer Should Get Mortgage Pre-Approval

What is the benefit of having a Mortgage Pre-Approval when looking for a new home?

There is a difference between a Mortgage Pre-Qualification and a Mortgage Pre-Approval.

A mortgage pre-qualification is based on the information you verbally give to your loan officer to  get a snapshot of how big a house you might afford and how much money you can afford to borrow to buy it.

A Mortgage Pre-Approval is an application file reviewed by an underwriter to be sure your income; assets and credit history qualify you to get the loan you are applying for.

Knowledge is Key:  A Mortgage Pre-Approval gives you a firm idea of how much house you can afford. The underwriter bases this amount using a formula that compares your income to your total outstanding debt.
The Debt:Income Ratio (DTI) is derived from the monthly payments that show up on your credit report and the income documents you surrendered as part of the process. This will keep you focused on the big picture and help to prevent being disappointed if you fall in love with a home that is too expensive.

Improve Your Negotiating Position:  When a seller is comparing two offers and one of the buyers has Mortgage Pre-Approval there is a high confidence level that the deal will go through and close sooner. This may help you to win in a competitive bidding situation.

Confidence in Your Offer:  Knowing that the key information in obtaining a mortgage has been reviewed by an underwriter will give you, and the seller, confidence that your offer is bona fide.

Keeping Your Spending On Track:  Having detailed information on your interest rate, mortgage payment, closing costs and down payment requirements will help you stay within your monthly budget.

Time is Valuable:  Knowing what you can and cannot afford can save you time and frustration in the house hunting process. This will help your Realtor find the perfect house in your price range.

Move in Quicker:  Having Mortgage Pre-Approval will save you time when you submit your complete mortgage application for approval. Everything has been done beforehand. All you need is and inspection, appraisal and closing documents. The faster you close, the sooner you can begin to enjoy your new home.

pre-approval 2If you are looking to buy a new home, a Mortgage Pre-Approval is the smartest way to get into your new home. Call Me at 860.945.9284 to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my  FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval service.

100% USDA Loans Now Cheaper: Lower MI in 2017 for USDA Loans

usda 2The USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Development Loan (aka USDA RHD Loan) is extremely popular with Millennial Home Buyers.  That’s because the program requires Zero Down Payment. That’s right… 100% Financing is available to purchase eligible properties in select areas of Connecticut.

And, it just got more attractive  Just in time for the New Year, the USDA lowered its new year.jpgUp-Front Mortgage Guarantee Fee from 2.75% to 1.00%. And… it also reduced its Monthly Mortgage Insurance Premium from 0.50% to 0.35%

The USDA loan is now one of the most affordable home loans available, This fee reduction makes the RHD less expensive than FHA products. A USDA home loan can make owning a home less expensive than renting one  and could be the avenue for Millennial Home Buyers to move into a new home in 2017. 

What Is a  USDA Loan? The United States Department of Agriculture partners with approved local lenders to assist homebuyers with competitive interest rates and loan terms to buy their primary residence in select areas of Connecticut

The Program Offers:
usda 3100% Financing – No Down Payment is Required. Coming up with a Down Payment is one of the biggest barriers to entry into the housing market for Millennial Home Buyers. A USDA mortgage eliminates that obstacle.

Closing Costs Can Be Rolled Into the Loan Amount. The closing costs associated with obtaining a mortgage can be included in the loan amount when the appraised value exceeds the contracted sales price.
Liberal Credit Scores. The USDA Guarantee allows lenders to approve mortgages that would not qualify under guidelines for other programs. Applicants with credit scores down to 640 are eligible for this loan.
Debt:Income Ratios: To qualify, you must meet debt-to-income requirements. The DTI ratio limits are 29% (for PITI) and 41%. The reduced fees make it easier to meet these ability to pay guidelines.

Millennial Home Buyers often chose the more expensive FHA loan program, even when they are buying in USDA-eligible areas. If you are buying in a suburban or rural area, it pays to check USDA eligibility maps. Choosing USDA can save you the 3.5% down payment that FHA requires. And, now that the reduced mortgage insurance fees are in effect, you can save money each month over FHA

Eligible home buyers should weigh the benefits of a USDA loan.

House Hunt with Confidence: Get Pre-Approved

prequal-vs-preapprovalThere is a difference between Mortgage Pre-Qualification and Mortgage Pre-Approval. As a potential homebuyer it is important for you to understand the difference and know which one fits your specific need.

Pre-Qualification:  A mortgage Pre-Qualification is an informal snapshot of your creditworthiness and how much you may be able to borrow. It’s simple process you can do over the phone or on-line. You’ll answer a few questions about your income, your long-term debts, your down payment and closing costs ability, etc. – Just to get a general idea of how much you can to spend on a new home. Pre-Qualifications not binding. There’s no guarantee that you will, in fact, get a loan for that amount. 

Pre-Approval: A mortgage Pre-Approval is a formal commitment from your lender that they will lend you a specified amount of money, subject to an appraisal of the home you decide to buy.
To become Pre-Approved, you’ll need to provide documentation of your creditworthinesspre-approval 2 and ability to pay. A Mortgage Underwriter will review and verify your documentation to determine how much the lender thinks you can afford to borrow and issue to you a formal Mortgage Commitment Letter. A Mortgage Loan Officer cannot issue you a formal Commitment letter.
By getting Pre-Approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting, you will be able to shop with confidence and show sellers you are qualified and serious about buying their home.

The Difference
Get Pre-ApprovedApplying for mortgage Pre-Qualification, or even better, Mortgage Pre-Approval are important first steps in the home buying/home financing process. However, know there is a difference between the two. As a potential homebuyer it is important for you to understand the difference and know which one fits your specific need.
 

Reach out to Me to discuss the right mortgage option for your family and to take advantage of my FREE Jump Start Mortgage Pre-Approval Service

 

First Home Buyer Checklist

For Millennials, buying your First Home is an exciting adventure. Owning a home is the American dream. It’s also the largest investment most of us will ever make (aside from perhaps the cost of a college education), Knowing what you’ll need before starting the trek is just as important as knowing what isn’t required. Here are some tips.

 Here’s what you’ll need:
♦   Get Mortgage Pre-Approval. A Mortgage Pre-Approval is a commitmenapp approvedt by your lender that they will lend you a specific amount of money when you find your new home.  By getting Pre-Approved for a mortgage before you start house hunting, not only can you shop with confidence, but you’ll be show sellers you are qualified and serious about buying their home.
♦   Enough income to pay monthly mortgage payments. Keep in mind that FHA MIyour monthly mortgage obligation will include not only the mortgage payment, it will also include an escrow payment for your home owners insurance (HOI), taxes, and your monthly mortgage insurance premium (commonly called PMI or MIP).
♦   The ability to maintain the property. You must keep a home in good repair or it will lose value and you’ll lose money. One of the “joys” of homeownership is keeping up with the chores around the house.  You’ll need a lawnmower to maintain curb appeal and you can’t ignore peeling paint or unexpected repairs that eventually come along. If you’re handy you can DIY or you can hire someone to do it for you. Either way, it will cost money. And you ‘d better be prepared.
♦   A decent credit record. Your credit score is the major determining factor in your ability to get a mortgage at the best terms. Low scores are caused by late payments, bankruptcy or collection accounts
There is only one Website authorized by law to provide the Free Annual Credit Report you are entitled to under the Free Credit Reporting Act – annualcreditreport.com. Check it out! And if you see any problems, take action.

Here’s What You Won’t Need:
♦   A big down payment. Sure, it would be nice to be able to make a 20% down payment on your new home. With equity in your home, you canInterest Rates avoid paying PMI, you might get a better rate and you’ll lower your monthly payments.
But it is possible to buy a home with a small down payment. There are several loan programs available to qualified home buyers that allow for down payents as low as 3 to 3.5%; there’s even one that allows for up to 100% financing of eligible properties. Talk to a professional mortgage loan officer about the best option for your family.
♦  Experience. There is a lot of information on the internet about the whole home financing/home purchase adventure. It all tends to result in a giant house puzzlejigsaw puzzle. Look to the experts for help putting those pieces together. A professional mortgage loan officer has the experience to guide you through the complicated mortgage application process. A trusted Realtor can help find the right house, assist with your negotiations and address other issues with the home purchase.

Resource:  http://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/a-checklist-for-first-time-homebuyers

 

First Home Buyer Tips They Don’t Teach You in School

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You don’t learn about how to buy a house in school. They don’t teach you  what you need to apply for a mortgage, what kind of loan you’ll need, or what PMI is (it’s called private mortgage insurance)

And let’s not mention that you need to shop around for the best deal — or you can hire somebody to do that for you.

So here are some First Home Buyer Tips to help guide you through the home buying experience. 

BEFORE YOU START LOOKING
♦  Have a conversation with your significant other about what you’re millenial 2looking for, what you need and what you can do without. Standing in the living room during an open house with your real estate agent isn’t the time to argue about wanting three bedrooms instead of four.
♦  Know your financial records. What’s your credit score? How much Low Monthly Paymentsoutstanding debt do you have? What monthly payment can you afford?
How much money did you make last year? You’re going to need to know all of this information. Have all of your paperwork ready to go.
♦  Know your limit — if you can’t afford a $450,000 house, don’t go look at $450,000 houses.
♦  Shop around. There are dozens of real estate agents, attorneys, and mortgage officers so don’t settle. These people are going to work for you, their job is to make you happy. You’re going to be on the phone and meeting with them frequently, so make sure you like who you’re working with.
♦  Do your research. When you do decide on a real estate agent, he or she isGet Pre-Approved going to want to know what your price range is, what neighborhoods you’re interested in, if you want to be close to schools, expressways, public transportation, etc. Know what you want and Get Pre-Approved! 

WHILE YOU’RE LOOKING
♦ This is the big one you’ll be glad someone told you about.
Don’t get too attached to a house, because if it the deal doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, you’re going to be devastated.
♦  Be willing to negotiate, it’s a big part of the game.
♦  This goes hand-in-hand with negotiating: put your foot down and don’t let anyone take advantage of you. If the seller is asking for way more than you’re told the house is worth, or if they’re not willing to fix something that is broken or at least negotiate the cost, you have to be ready to walk open houseaway. There will be more houses, trust me.
♦  Don’t just purchase a house by its listing. Go look at EVERYTHING. A lot of houses look different in person than they do on-line, good and bad.

First Home BuyerI have the belief that anyone that deserves to own a home should be able to do so. The American Dream is still attainable for those buyers who do their homework, establish a game plan and work hard to achieve that goal. I’m here to help.

Source: http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/buying_your_first_house_things.html