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Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 76

Top Property Insurance Claims

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Homeowners insurance is something that every homeowner needs and while you never want to have to use it, it is vital that you have it in case of an emergency. Did you know that water damage is the most common (and costly) homeowners’ property insurance claim? Keep in mind, you don’t have to live in a flood zone to be hit by this kind of property loss. Roof leaks, bursting pipes and drainage issues are also contributing factors to water damage in your home.

It is vital that you review your policy so you know what is covered in and to make sure you are adequately cover this kind of loss.

Don’t get caught short in case of an emergency and your property suffers any kind of material damage.Do your homework when you select your insurance company and policy. Property insurance claims vary based on geography and even neighborhood, so it is also important to understand what the risks are for your address,

According to Allstate Insurance Company, below are some common types of property claims.
• Hail
• Water
• Wind
• Theft
• Physical damage (other)
 
Each area is different so be sure that you understand the specific risks associated with your neighborhood and that the policy you choose protects you from those kinds of damages.

Allstate offers a great tool called the Common & Costly Claims, check it out on their website www.allstate.com. Simply put in your zip code and the tool offers the top five property claims and the average cost by zip. This tool can help you determine the kind of policy or rider that you may need to make sure your home is safe and that your assets are protected.

It’s also a good idea to work with an agent so that you understand exactly what your policy covers; and in the event of a claim, how to recover the full value of your belongings or real property. Certain policies also cover temporary housing or living expenses for catastrophic loss- make sure you take full advantage of the premiums you pay!

 

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Is Your Contract Binding?

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you haven’t already entered a binding contract for a new home, then you’ve missed part one of The Home Buyer Tax Credit (it was April 30th).  If you have, then keep it mind that part two requires that you close on the home on or before June 30, 2010.

One of the questions that has come up as part of the tax credit push is what exactly is a ‘binding contract’ in the eyes of the IRS. No one really seems to know, but it does raise some interesting points.

For any kind of tax benefits or allowances, it is best to seek the advice of a tax accountant or attorney. They can help translate murky guidelines and offer the best course of action when buying or selling a home.

When it comes to actually writing an offer, the next step is to allow your realtor to craft the contract or use a standard state contract. Your offer should be thorough and concise. Don’t leave any terms blank or undefined. Any ambiguities in an offer can lead to interpretation down the line that render the contact ‘non-binding’. Not only can this have an impact on your Home Buyer Tax Credit, other tax advantages or even the ability to close on the deal.

Do your homework – and let tax and real estate professionals guide you. From the IRS to your local chapter of NAHB to your CPA, you should make your decisions based on a number of resources:

Internal Revenue Service

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

National Association of Realtors

All contracts have some contingencies – and some are more important than others. Just be sure to consult with an expert to make sure your offer is clean, clear and enforceable.

 

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Common Misconceptions About Residential Appraisals

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

You have found the perfect home and are ready to buy, and you lender needs a real estate appraisal. If this is your first time buying you may not understand exactly what that is. A real estate appraisal is a detailed report that is created by a licensed appraiser in your state and establishes the market value of a residential property. A number of considerations go into an official appraisal, and it forms the basis of the bank’s determination of the loan value. While appraisals do consider market comparisons, the actual appraisal value comes from much more than a market analysis.

Here are the components of a residential appraisal:

  • Property details
  • Comparisons  to at least three similar properties
  • Evaluation of the market conditions in the area
  • Environmental conditions that could decrease the property’s value
  • Structural issues that could decrease the property’s value
  • Estimate of time on the market
  • Status of the home site – new development, established neighborhood, acreage

Common misconceptions

  1. Appraisals aren’t the same as home inspections
  2. Appraisals are owned by the lender and not the buyer
  3. Assessed values don’t necessarily match market value
  4. Realtors do not provide appraisals
  5. Consumers do have the right to question appraisal facts and contest them

Understanding the neighborhood and ‘comps’ are an important part of your buying experience, but you are also bound to the official appraisal given to the lender. Work with your realtor, lender AND appraiser to make sure you understand all the details in the appraisal report of your new home.

 

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New Home Monitoring Technology

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are a homeowner who is interested in the latest in home safety tecnhology, you will want to check out the latest from Schlage. They are now offering the ability to monitor and control yourr home from anywhere. Schlage LiNK™ is a new amazing technology that lets you remotely control and monitor access to your home 24/7 from any Internet enabled computer and most web enabled cell phones.  This new remote home management offers many benefits, below are some of the things you can do:

•Check the status of your lock and set temporary codes to your home from your Internet enabled computer or cell phone
•Change, add, or delete access codes to your lock remotely
•Access a 90 day history of who has accessed your lock in

Some of the benefits:

•No key to hide, lose, carry, or forget
•Ready to use out of the box. Installs quickly, usually in less than 30 minutes
•Powered by a 9-volt battery. If the Internet goes down or the power goes out, the lock still provides you secure access to your home
•Use the keys provided with the lock as a standard door lock
•Ability to program up to 19 unique user codes
•Add, change, or delete user codes in seconds

The system can be accessed via computer or cell phone and you can send a command to your home using the password-protected Schlage LiNK online interface on your cell phone or computer. The command travels to your home via the Internet, using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology, the same security used for online banking

Many cell phones support the Schlage LiNK application. Currently, Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones are supported with the Schlage LiNK phone application on Verizon. A Schlage LiNK application compatible with other Verizon phones is undergoing testing and should be available by the end of 2009. To see if your phone is supports this system, text “phone” to 695465 (MYLINK) on your cell phone to see if it’s compatible.

 

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Final Home Inspection Walk-Through

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Before the purchase of your new home is final, a final inspection of the home will need to be completed, A final walk-through is an inspection performed anywhere from a few hours to five days before closing, and its primary purpose is to make certain that the property is in the condition you agreed to buy. Even if you are pressed for time, it is vital that you inspect the property to  ensure that all agreed-upon repairs have been made and nothing has changed with the property since you last looked at it.

Before you begin your inspection, it is a good idea to make a list of things to look for so you can be prepared.  It is also recommended that you have your Sales Contract with you so that you can review any items that should be included with the house.

Here is a list of items to check on a final walk-through:

  • Did the movers bang up the walls, rip the rugs or scratch the wooden floors?
  • Did the moldings around the doors get damaged when they moved an appliance from a room?
  • Does the heating and air conditioning system still work?
  • Are all of the appliances still working?
  • Have all the items that the seller agreed to remove from the home out of the home?
  • Turn on and off every light fixture
  • Run water & look under sinks for leaks
  • Open and close all doors and doors
  • Flush toilets
  • Inspect ceilings, wall and floors
  • Make sure any repairs that were agreed upon have been made

Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned and you may find that there are some issues that have not been taken care of as agreed. You do have options in case this happens. It is a good idea to work with an attorney to come to a satisfactory arrangement.

 

 

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Pros And Cons Of Fixed Rate Mortgages

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are in the market for a new home, chances are you have researched the different types of financing. There are many types of mortgage products on the market today.  But the vast majority of them are fixed rate mortgages with a 15 year or 30 year term.  These traditional mortgages are amortizing, which means that you pay off the entire loan amount by the end of the term of the loan. While these are still the most common type of loan, there are advantages and drawbacks to these mortgages.  Depending on your financial situation, and the prospects of changes in your financial future, a fixed rate mortgage may or may not be the best product for you.

     Let's look at the pros and cons of fixed rate mortgages:

PROS

  • Interest rate on your mortgage cannot be increased for the life of your loan
  • Monthly payment will remain the same for the life of the loan
  • Loan will be completely paid off by the end of the term

CONS

  • Fixed monthly payment amount may be difficult to make at the start of the loan
  • Large percentage of payment goes to interest payment in first years of the loan
  • Usually has a higher interest rate than a variable rate loan initiated at the same time
  • Interest rate cannot be reduced as in some variable rate programs
  • Maybe harder to qualify for, as higher income may be required

Depending on your financial situation, a fixed rate mortgage may be the best solution for you.  If you can afford the monthly payment required to obtain the loan, then the fact that your interest rate and monthly payments will stay the same for the life of the loan while give you peace of mind and make monthly budgeting easier.

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Common Problems With FHA Loans

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you're planning to buy a home and are researching the different types of financing, you might apply for an FHA mortgage.

This type of mortgages are great for first-time homebuyers, buyers, buyers with bad credit as well as those homebuyers who do not have the funds for 20% downpayment.

With an FHA loan, it helps banks mitigate this risk by insuring otherwise risky borrowers' mortgages. The FHA agrees to pay the difference between what a home gets at a post-foreclosure auction and what's still owed on the home when a borrower defaults.

With the sluggish economy and problems with the real estate market, the FHA may soon begin tightening its loan standards, leaving some borrowers without the financing they need.

Below are a few of some potential roadblocks you might encounter if you are applying for an FHA loan, and how to get through them.

  • The FHA requires a new property to be livable from day one. As a result, the agency has a strict inspection requirement intended to catch any potential health or safety hazards. You should make sure everything is in working order and address things like a broken window, or a broken fire alarm, as these can create significant delays in the buying process. It is of course difficult to repair these issues if you are not yet the property owner but you will need to communicate with the seller and negotiate the necessary repairs.
  • The FHA also has limits for how high a borrower's debt-to-income ratio can be. It will be more difficult for homebuyers who have more than 30 percent of their monthly income on a mortgage payment or 43 percent on all debts combined. Below are also some additional requirements borrows will need to face:  Show consistent or increasing income, have a steady employment record (at least 2 or more years with the same employer) as well as have no bankruptcies in the last two years.
  • Another issue is that if the property appraisal comes in below the price you've negotiated, the deal is off. A possible solution is that the buyer could try to come up with a larger down payment to help to make up the difference between the appraisal and the negotiated price or possibly negotiate a new price based on the appraisal. Buyers have the advantage in today's real estate market, so the chances of a motivated seller accepting a lower price is good.            

 

First Time Homebuyer Tips

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Every new homeowner will feel the sense of excitement and pride once they turn the key in their lock in their new home for the very first time. There are some thing that first time homeowners should try to follow to help make the transition into homeownership successful.

1. Don't Overspend on New Furniture and Remodeling 
Buying a home and moving is expensive, there is no argument on that. First time homebuyers can typically have an eye opener when it comes to all the costs involved as well as the increase in monthly utility expenses that may be substanically more than when they rented.  It can be very tempting to spend more money on new furniture, furnishsing for the home and remodeling projects. However, give yourself time to adjust to the expenses of home ownership and rebuild your savings - the projects and that new sofa will still be waiting for you when you can more comfortably afford them.

2. Address Important Maintenance Items 
New homeowners will need to budget for the new expenses that accompanies home ownership-  making repairs. It can be a shock to realize that you will need to address all maintenance issues that come up like plumbing problems, a leaky roof as there is no landlord to call!  It is important to not neglect any problem that could get worse over time, turning a relatively small problem into a much larger and costlier one.

3. Seek Professional Tax Advice When Filing Your Tax Return 
Even if you hate the thought of spending money on an accountant when you normally do your returns yourself, and even if you're already feeling broke from buying that house, hiring an accountant to make sure you complete your return correctly and maximize your refund is a good idea. Home ownership significantly changes most people's tax situations and the deductions they are eligible to claim. Just getting your
taxes professionally done for one year can give you a template to use in future years if you want to continue doing your taxes yourself. And remember, tax preparation expenses are tax deductible, so whatever your marginal tax rate is, think of that as a discount on the cost of the service.

4. Get Properly Insured 
Your mortgage lender will require you to purchase
homeowners insurance, enough to fully replace the property in the event of a total loss. However, you will also need to consider obtaining insurance coverage to help pay your mortgage should you be unable to make the payments.  If you share your home with anyone who relies on your income to help pay the mortgage, whether it's a spouse or a child, you'll need life insurance with that person named as a beneficiary so he or she won't lose the house if you die unexpectedly. Mortgage insurance is another option to help safeguard your home in the event you cannot make your monthly payments.

Owning a home is wonderful but also comes with great responsibilities. It can be difficult to manage your finances well enough to keep the home and maintain the home's condition well enough to protect your investment.

Tips For A Successful Negotiation

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

If you are buying a new home or selling the one you have, you want a successful negotiation and sale. The negotiation process can be both complex and confusing for both sides. Each party wants to have a fair transaction and achieve the best deal. Below are some tips to help you get the most from the negotiation transaction.

1. Time the market right. At this time, we are in a "buyers" market, where most sellers are very motivated to sell, this can give a buyer the upper hand. On the other side,  a "sellers" market, or a market where housing supply and demand are roughly equal might give the seller an advantage. If possible, you want to be in the market at a time when it favors your position as a buyer or seller.

2. Pay attention to the details. Buyers and seller pay a lot of attention to the transaction price. It is a good idea to consider other perks or benefits that can add to the overall worth. For example, if you negotiate that the roof be replaced or perhaps having the seller pay some of the closing costs this can sweeten the deal. Don't be stuck with the idea that the purchase prince is the only financial gain to the transaction.

3. Don't forget about financing. Keep in mind that there are several factors that can impact the final sale:

• Has the buyer been pre-qualified or pre-approved by a lender?  Having buyers that are "pre-qualified" or "pre-approved" are more likely to pose less risk than a buyer who has never met with a lender. This also shows the seller that they are serious about the offer and will give the seller more confidence. that they are a qualified buyer.

•If there is a low interest rate, then there will be a larger selection of potential buyers. More buyers equal more potential demand, which is good news for sellers. On the downside, high interest rates will cause buyers to be more selective or cause them to withdrawal from the market all together.

•The traditional 20% downpayment is not standard anymore. If the buyer has good credit, loans with 5 percent down or less are now widely available. Many loans where 100 percent financing are still available, although not as much as a few years back.

Negotiation is an important tool of the real estate transaction. To be a successful home seller or buyer you should have a basic understanding of negotiation methods, knowing the motivation of the other party and adapting to their style.

Spring Is A Great Time To Buy

by Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, GRI

Spring has officially arrived! If you are selling your home, the spring and summer months are traditionally the busiest times of year for the residential real estate market. Eventhough the current real estate market has sellers dealing with fierce competition, buyers are getting some amazing homes at great prices.

If you're in the market for a house this spring, below are some tips you can take to give you the advantage to get the best deal.
  • If you're going to work with a real estate professional, be sure to research and interview a few to make sure you are comfortable with them. Be sure to get references and be honest to let them know what your expectations are.
  • Make sure to get your loan pre-approved. This will give you the upper hand in several ways. You will know upfront how much you will be able to finance and it shows the seller that you are serious and ready to buy when you make an offer.
  • Be flexible. If your Realtor calls with a listing that matches your criteria and wants to show you the home right away, beady to make an offer -- quickly.
  • Don't forget to look at the potential in homes. Of course there are only so many thing you can change, but if minor things are standing in your way, such as paint or carpet color or flooring, don't forget that these are easy changes to make and could create a whole different space!I

Now is a great time to buy and spring only makes your choices more plentiful! Check out the latest lstings and contact me to view them!

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 76

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Contact Information

Photo of Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR Real Estate
Jon Smith, CRB, CRS, SRES, SFR
Iowa Realty
3521 Beaver Ave.
Des Moines IA 50310
515-240-2692
Fax: 515-453-6404
 

 

 

Licensed in the State of Iowa