Catie Seip

Buy a Home and Customize it with Specialty Financing

If you’ve been house hunting recently you’ve probably noticed a lack of turn key homes available; unless you’re working with a hefty budget.  



If your budget is under $300,000 the inventory of updated homes leaves much to be desired. Also, everyone has difference tastes, so why pay for upgrades that someone else added that you don’t even like? Well, you don’t have to settle! You can have a house with great bones AND customize it to fit your needs all in one loan. 



We’ve all seen the house that’s the right price, location, you can already picture spending summers in the backyard but it has 20 year old wall to wall carpet that you just can’t live with. In the past you would have two options, pay out of pocket to replace the flooring or live with it until you can upgrade. You no longer need cash on hand to update a home and make repairs. That’s right, you can wrap the cost of new flooring, a kitchen, roof or nearly any other upgrade you can imagine into your mortgage. 



I’m very familiar with these products because I used the 203k to purchase and customize my own home. Our home, built in 1907, was gutted to the studs and sat empty for nearly 20 years. See a before & after photo below. You can also read more about we found our home here. Our home was quite the project and I gained SO much knowledge that will help guide you through the process of specialty financing. It may sound scary and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. If you choose this route, you can be confident that my expertise and experience can help simplify yours.  

I partner with Homebridge, a trusted expert in specialty financing. They have multiple options to pay for repairs and updates on a home. Whether you need $5,000 or over $100,000, my mortgage partner Pete at Homebridge will help match you to a loan program that is the best fit. 



Even new construction limits your material options. With specialty financing, the possibilities are endless! If you’re looking to buy and would like to customize your home, I’d be happy to discuss options (click here for contact info) to help you make a wise investment and build equity.

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Do Open Houses Work?

Take a quick drive around any residential neighborhood on the weekend and you’ll spot at least one “Open House” sign. Even as the real estate industry has changed over the past few decades, open houses have remained common practice. So, question is...do open houses work?


Data from the National Association of Realtors says that 7% people found the house they bought from a yard sign or open house. 


Most buyers who attend open houses are not ready, not qualified to buy or simply have no intention of buying...if anyone even shows up at all. Every agent I know has had at least one open house where they’ve sat for 3 hours just to have one curious neighbor who has considered selling their home come through. Once, I even had a neighbor come in, he sat on the couch and FELL ASLEEP! Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. 

If a buyer is ready and serious, they will make an appointment for a private showing and be prequalified.


In todays digital age 95% of buyers are looking for homes online. That’s why photos, video, and property preparation are essential to making a great first impression online. If a buyer sees a house they’re interested in on Tuesday and they see that there is an open house on Sunday, do you think they will wait until the open house to see it? No way! If they’re serious about buying, they’ll call their agent and set up a showing immediately. 


Safety is also an issue because you’re allowing ANYONE to enter your home. This leaves your home vulnerable to theft and gives burglars an opportunity to scope out your belongings. So, is the risk worth the low probability of capturing a sale? 


In my experience, open houses are ineffective and a waste of a seller’s time. You may be wondering, why then do agents continue this archaic sales strategy? Open houses can actually provide leads for the agent...but that doesn’t help you sell your home. The short answer is we work for the seller and if the seller wants to hold an open house, that’s what we do. 


What’s your experience with open houses? Do you think they can be effective?


I’d be happy to discuss with you my marketing plan and strategies that are tailored to your home and needs! 

What’s my home really worth? Click here for a custom report.

Answers to the 3 Most Common Mortgage Questions

As a REALTOR® my job is not limited to the transactional duties of buying or selling your home. My goal is to escort you through the process providing expert advice and recommendations. I work with a reliable team of people including inspectors, insurance agents, attorneys, closing agents, mortgage brokers and more to ensure a smooth transaction from start to finish.

Julian Minatel, loan originator from Amerifirst Home Mortgage, is one of my trusted lenders. Here are Julian’s answers to the most common questions he receives about mortgages.

How much do I need to put down?

It really depends on the type of loan program that the buyer is interested in and may qualify for. Typically, this is from 0% (no money down) to 25% Occupancy also plays a big role (for example, a primary residence requires less money down than an investment).

What is my interest rate?

The interest rate is a variable that changes daily. It is dependent on a variety of factors including: credit score, loan program, loan length, loan to value, and property type.

What do I need to apply for a home loan?

Buying a home is very different from a regular installment loan or auto loan. Common loan documents that we need for a home loan include: bank statements (last 2 months), W-2s or 1099s (last 2 years), tax returns (last 2 years), pay stubs (last 30 days), photo ID (driver license, passport, state ID card) and proof of rental history (past 12 months if applicable). There may be additionally documents per the underwriter so they can accurately underwrite your file.

 

If you’d like help getting prequalified or have questions about how to sell your current home and purchase a new home, call or email me. It would be my pleasure to serve you!

Why a 30-Year Mortgage May Not be Your Best Option

Before purchasing your next home it’s important to ask yourself, “how long do I plan to live in this house?” 30-year fixed rate mortgages are more popular than their 15 year and adjustable rate counterparts due to consistent payments throughout the life of the loan. However, a 30-year mortgage may not be your best option. 



If you are a first time homebuyer or life circumstances such as a job transfer are in the near future, an adjustable rate mortgage could be a better fit. Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM) usually are available so that the interest rate adjusts every 3, 5, or 10 years. The rates usually adjust 1-2% and have a 6% rate cap for the life of the loan. If you know you’d like to purchase a new home or will be moving within 5 years, a 5 or 7 year ARM may offer a lower interest rate than a 30-year fixed mortgage. 



If you do decide to take the 30-year route, you can still save on interest by paying biweekly. If your mortgage payment is normally $1800 a month, instead of paying monthly pay $900 every two weeks. Doing this will result in one extra payment a year which saves you so much in interest that you can pay off a 30-year mortgage in only 23.1 years!



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There are many flexible options for mortgages today. I can connect you with a trusted lending partner that will discuss your options and help you find the mortgage that will best suit your needs. 

Avoid These 8 Home Inspection Mistakes

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home. Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your dream house, you’ll probably be anxious to move in. However, before you make a significant financial commitment, it’s best to know exactly what you’re buying.

When you hire a home inspector it's a worthwhile investment that can save you money in the long run, either by warning you away from a bad purchase or by providing a list of deficiencies you can use to negotiate with the sellers. Additionally, a good inspector can often predict the standard life expectancy of your roof, HVAC, and other big-ticket items so you can start planning for their eventual replacement.

However, many buyers make mistakes during the inspection process that cost them time and money and lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid these eight common buyer blunders to minimize your risk, protect your investment, and give yourself peace of mind and confidence in your new home purchase.

 

MISTAKE 1: Skip Your Own Inspection

Overall, does the home appear to be well maintained? Unless it’s a highly-competitive seller’s market, consider the overall condition of the property BEFORE you submit an offer. Work with your real estate agent to factor in repairs and updates you know you’ll need to make when you determine your offer price.

 

 

MISTAKE 2: Hire the Cheapest Inspector

We all love to save money, but not all inspectors are created equal. Before you hire one, do a little research.2 You may even want to start shopping for an inspector before you complete your home search. Inspection periods are typically short, so it never hurts to be prepared. 

Make sure the inspector is licensed and insured. Buyer beware...read the inspectors contract! Some inspectors have a clause in their contract that releases them from liability even if they make a big mistake. 

 

 

MISTAKE 3: Miss Attending the Inspection

Make every effort to be on-site during the inspection. Buyers who aren’t present during their inspection miss out on a great opportunity to gather valuable information about their new home.

 It’s the perfect chance to find out where everything is located, ask questions, and see first-hand what repairs and updates may be needed.3

 

 

MISTAKE 4: Skim Over the Report

Inspection reports can be long and tedious, and it can be tempting to skim over them. However, buyers who do this risk missing crucial information.

Instead, you should read over the report carefully, so you don’t miss anything significant. Now is the time to address any areas of concern. You have a limited window of time to request repairs or negotiate the selling price, so don’t squander it.

Your inspector may also flag some minor items that you wouldn’t typically expect a seller to fix. However, ignoring these small issues can sometimes lead to bigger problems down the road. Make sure you read everything in the report so you can take future action if needed.

 

 

MISTAKE 5: Avoid Asking Questions

Some buyers are too embarrassed to ask questions when there’s something in the inspection report they don’t understand. They avoid asking questions and end up uninformed about important issues that could impact their home purchase.

The reality is, questions are expected. You hired your inspector for their professional expertise, so don’t be shy about tapping into it. For example, you might ask:

 

  • Would you get this issue fixed in your own home?

  • How urgent is it?

  • What could happen if I don’t fix it?

  • Is this a simple issue I could fix myself?

  • What type of professional should I call?

  • Can you estimate how much it would cost to make this repair?

  • How much longer would you expect this system/structure/appliance to last?

  • What maintenance steps would you recommend?

 

 

MISTAKE 6: Expect a Perfect Report

Some buyers get scared off by a lengthy inspection report. But with around 1600 items on an inspector’s checklist, you shouldn’t be surprised if yours uncover a large number of deficiencies.4 The key is to understand which problems require simple fixes, and which ones will require extensive (and costly) repairs. 

Your real estate agent can help you decide if and how to approach the sellers about making repairs or reducing the price. Whatever you do, try to focus on the major issues identified in the inspector’s report, and don’t expect the sellers to address every minor item on the list. They will be more receptive if they perceive your requests to be reasonable.

 

 

MISTAKE 7: Forgo Additional Testing

There are times when an agent or inspector will recommend bringing in a specialist to evaluate a potential issue.5 For example, they may suggest testing for mold or consulting with a roofing expert. 

Some buyers get spooked by the possibility of a “red flag” and decide to jump ship. Or, in their haste to close or desire to save money, they choose to ignore the recommendation for additional testing altogether. 

Don’t make these potentially costly mistakes. In some cases, the specialist will offer a free evaluation that takes minimal time to schedule. And if not, the small investment you make could provide you with peace of mind or save you a fortune in future repairs.

 

 

MISTAKE 8: Skip Re-inspection of Repairs

While the majority of sellers are forthcoming, some will try to save money by cutting corners, hiring unlicensed technicians, or doing the work themselves. Make sure the repairs are completed properly now, so you aren’t paying to redo them later.

Some buyers prefer to avoid this step altogether by completing the work themselves. They either request that the seller to give a credit or reduce the selling price accordingly. Whichever path you choose, protect yourself and your investment by ensuring the work is done properly.

 

 

I CAN HELP

A home inspection can reduce your risk and save you money over the long-term. But to maximize its effectiveness, it must be done properly. Avoid these eight common home inspection mistakes to safeguard your investment.

While these are some of the most common missteps, there are countless others that can trip up home buyers, cost them time and money, and cause undue stress. Our brokerage partners with trusted inspectors and other professionals to help you avoid the potential pitfalls.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, I can help you navigate the inspection and all the other steps in the buying process.  Contact me to schedule a free consultation. It would be my pleasure to serve you on your home-buying venture! 

What’s my home worth? Click HERE to get your free custom report.

 

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.familyhandyman.com/tools/diy-home-inspection-tools/view-all/

  2. https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/finding-the-right-home-inspector

  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/23/realestate/home-inspection.html

  4. https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-does-a-home-inspector-look-for/

  5. https://realtytimes.com/advicefromagents/item/37369-top-5-biggest-home-inspection-mistakes

  6. https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/home-inspection-mistakes-buyers-should-avoid/

  7. http://www.startribune.com/who-verifies-repairs-after-the-home-inspection/132844523/