buying and selling

4 Negotiation Tactics to Use When Buying a Home

In a real estate transaction, typically negotiating is thought of as price. However, there are many other factors that can either aid or hinder your probability of getting the house you want for the price you’re willing to pay. 


GET PREQUALIFIED.

As a buyer, the most important item you can provide to flex your buying power muscles is a pre-qualification letter. No seller wants to take their home off of the market for weeks just to find out that the buyer doesn’t qualify for the purchase amount. Any savvy buyers agent would make sure their client has a pre-qualification letter before even beginning the house hunt. 


MAKE A STRONG DEPOSIT.

Offers are normally accompanied by a “good faith” deposit that goes into an escrow account while the property is under contract. Contingencies on the contract protect your escrow deposit in case something arises during the contract period such as a cloud on the title, property appraisal not meeting the purchase price or a poor home inspection. Deposits are typically 1-2% of the purchase price. A larger deposit shows a seller you’re serious and committed to the process of buying the home. 


KEEP INSPECTIONS SHORT.

Inspection periods fall under contract contingencies that allow buyers to negotiate repairs, a lower price, or terminate the contract altogether if the inspection report is unsatisfactory. 15 days is the typical length of an inspection period, keep it at 15 days or shorter to make your offer more appealing. For a seller, a long inspection period means the property is off market for an extended period of time without a guarantee that the sale will go through. 


An “AS-IS” contract means the seller isn’t obligated to make repairs or pay for any items, however, the inspection period on an “AS-IS” contract also states, “If buyer determines, in buyers sole discretion, that the property is not acceptable to the buyer, the buyer may terminate the contract in writing before the end of the inspection period”. AS-IS contracts are basically a low-risk look behind the curtain of a home. Standard residential contracts are more difficult to negotiate repairs as a buyer because the contract has a certain amount built into the contract that the seller has allocated towards repairs. 


CLOSE QUICKLY.

When financing a property closing usually takes about 45 days, some lenders pride themselves on closing deals in as little as 30 days. A quick closing that isn’t contingent on the buyer selling their home is most desirable to a seller. Some buyers want to make the sale of their home a contingency for purchasing a new home but there is usually a “kick-out clause” meaning the seller can still accept another offer without that contingency. 


As a buyer, having Realtor® representation is typically at no cost to you. Don’t walk through the buying process alone or depend on the listing agent of the home. A listing agent can only represent the transaction if they have both sides of the deal and can NOT represent the best interest of both sides. Be prepared, have your own representation that’s looking out for you! If you are in need of a Realtor®, call me! It would be my pleasure to serve you. 

Don't Become a Victim on Your Next Real Estate Transaction

By: David H. Rosenberg, Esq.

 

Technology has made a significant impact in the real estate industry; both good and bad. Unfortunately, as a result of the increase in technology, the real estate industry is being heavily targeted by cyber-criminals.

 

A criminal will often hack into the email of a realtor and monitor correspondence to a transaction. As the transaction nears closing, the criminal sends what appears to be an email from the buyer’s realtor or settlement agent, including substitute wire instructions on where the buyer should send his monies. The substitute wire instructions are for the criminal’s account rather than the account of the closing agent. Once the funds are wired, the criminal quickly withdraws the funds or moves them off-shore.

 

Therefore:

1. Realtors, attorneys and settlement agencies should utilize secure email systems.

 

2. Closing packages & nonpublic personal information should be sent encrypted.

 

3. Always confirm wire information via telephone, to a verified telephone number and

individual. Never rely on contact information contained within an email signature.

 

4. Always review and confirm the email address to which you are sending emails.

Criminals often use email domains which look substantially similar to those of the

parties to the transaction.

 

5. Remember that attorneys and settlement agencies do not change wire

instructions/banking information mid-transaction.

 

6. Remember to never wire to any account on which the name does not match the

name of the intended recipient (i.e. ABC Title Company will have an account titled

ABC Title Company or something substantially similar)

 

7. Never click on links in emails which appear to be suspect due to ongoing issues with

malware, ransomware and viruses.

 

In the event that a wire has been sent as a result of the above, immediately contact the banks in an attempt to stop the wire as well as the local police and Federal Bureau of Investigations.

 

© 2018 David H. Rosenberg, Esq.

DHR LAW

2639 Fruitville Road

Second Floor, Suite 208

Sarasota, Florida 34237

(941) 361-1153

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 12 Apps for Homeowners & Renters

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More than 77 percent of people own a smartphone.1 The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day, with people under the age of 24 checking it an average of 74 times a day.1 We check it while we’re waiting in line and during our leisure time, whether we’re scrolling through social media, reading emails or getting up-to-date on the latest news. 

 

Smartphones are not only a useful tool for communication. With the following apps, you can get organized (whether you plan to buy or sell), save money, learn about the homes in your neighborhood and get inspired for your next renovation project. If you’re like 81 percent of people, you have your smartphone with you during most of your waking hours; let it help you stay organized and make your life easier.3

 

Apps For Homeowners: Get Renovation Inspiration

These apps not only offer ideas for your next remodel or home décor project, some of them even give you a preview of what your home may look like once it’s finished.

 

1.) Houzz (Free)

The Houzz app is the number one app for home design and it’s no wonder; the app gives you access to all the inspiration, blogs and design ideas from the Houzz site on your phone or tablet. The app features View in My Room 3D, which allows you to view products in your home before you buy. Just take a photo of the space and a 3D version of the product will appear. Browse products, save photos of designs you’d like to view later and connect with local professionals in your area. Whether you’re gathering ideas for your next renovation and décor project or you’re just browsing, the Houzz app will satisfy all your design needs.

(Android, iOS)

 

2.) iHandy Carpenter ($1.99)

Make sure the photos, shelves, mirrors and other artwork you hang are even and aligned with this helpful app. It’s an all-in-one tool kit that features a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, ruler and protractor. No need to purchase these tools separately; just hold your smartphone up to the wall and the app will take care of the rest.

(iOS, Android)

 

3.) Color911 ($3.99)

If you’re thinking of changing the color scheme of your home or want to find the right shades for lamp shades, rugs or throw pillows to match your vintage sofa, the Color911 app provides pre-selected color palettes to match any color scheme. Take a photo of the room or the furniture and the app will create a custom palette full of complementary colors. Write notes about your palette and organize it all into folders to share with family, friends or your design professional.

(iOS)

 

Bonus Apps for Homeowners:

AroundMe (Free)

Hungry and looking for a local hotspot? Meeting friends at a coffee shop nearby? Or just need to find the closest ATM? AroundMe allows you to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, book a hotel or find a movie schedule close to where you live. Open the app and start learning more about your neighborhood. (iOS, Android, Windows)

 

BrightNest (Free)

From keeping things clean to making them colorful, Brightnest, developed by Angie’s List, is loaded with suggestions on how to make your home a better place to live. With categories of customized tips (money-saving, cleaning, eco-friendly, healthy, cooking, and creative) there are plenty of great ways to pull inspiration from the app. BrightNest will help you tackle important home tasks with easy-to-follow instructions, a personal schedule and helpful reminders. (iOS, Android, Web)

 

Apps For Sellers: List & Sell Your Home Quickly

Are you a homeowner who is thinking of selling? If you’re preparing to sell, you know there are a lot of tasks to complete before putting your home on the market. These apps help you manage your to-dos so you can list and sell your home more efficiently with fewer distractions.

 

4.) Homesnap (Free)

This one is the scary kind of cool. Using the Homesnap app, you can snap a photo of any home, nationwide, to learn more about it. When you’re ready to sell, snap a few of the homes in your neighborhood to find out their valuation. This app isn’t perfect, which is why you should always consult with a local real estate agent. However, it can give you a general idea of the value of your home compared to others in the neighborhood. (iOS and Android devices)

 

5.) Docusign (Free) 

BUH-BYE fax machine! Use the DocuSign app to complete approvals and agreements in hours—not days—from anywhere and on any device. Quickly and securely access and sign any documents. The benefit to using the app (over your desktop computer) is you will receive push notifications when a document is waiting for your signature and you can view and organize all your docs on-the-go. Using the easily downloadable app, receive and sign documents for free. You can receive and sign documents for free, but will need a paid account to send documents; pricing starts at $10 a month. (iOS, Android, Windows, Web).

 

6.) Wunderlist (Free)

Designed for use on the Web and mobile devices, Wunderlist is a well-designed to-do list and task management program that makes it easy to create a list and add tasks, due dates and reminders. Organize your ideas or focus into separate lists or create tasks within one list. You can also email them with whomever you collaborate, such as a spouse or your real estate agent. (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web)

 

Bonus App for Sellers:

Real Estate Dictionary (Free) 

Not sure what all those industry specific terms mean? Search thousands of words and phrases from real estate, mortgage, and financial dictionaries for clear, in-depth definitions. This is a handy app for anyone who’s buying or selling and wants to learn more about the process. (iOS, Android)

 

Apps For Renters: Get Ready to Buy

Not ready to buy a home just yet? These apps will help you get into the perfect rental while you save money, build a budget and get on track for homeownership.

 

7.) Mint (Free)

Do you know where your money goes each month? Manage your bills, budget and credit score all in one place. Mint is a free app that helps you view your complete financial picture and track your spending. We recommend this app to anyone, but it’s especially useful for renters who need to crack down on their spending in order to save for a down payment. Use Mint to look for areas you can cut spending in order to save a little extra each month. (iOS, Android)

 

8.) Acorns ($1 a month to start)

Acorns is modernizing the practice of saving loose change with their automated savings tool. The app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then sweeps the change into a computer-managed investment portfolio. Acorns is free for four years for college students and everyone else pays $1 a month until their account balance hits $5,000, then 0.25% of their account balance per year. This is a useful tool for those who have a hard time saving. (iOS, Android)

 

9.) Neighborhoods & Apartments

Built for the on-the-go apartment hunter, this app from Walk Score takes the hassle out of finding your next home or apartment and helps you live near the people and places you love. They collect listings from top rental listing sites and we like them because they share how walkable each address is, determined by access to public transit, things to do, bike trails, shorter commutes, etc. (iOS, Android)

 

Bonus Apps for Renters:

Wally (Free)

Wally is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income to expenses, so you can understand where your money goes each month, and set and achieve goals. Wally lets you keep track of the details as you spend money: where, when, what, why, & how much. I love how simple it is to set a personalized savings target and scan receipts. (iOS, Android)

 

Credit Karma (Free)

If you’re preparing to buy, boosting your credit score is likely a goal you’ve set. Credit Karma is a free app that allows you to safely monitor your score and receive updates on ways you can improve it over time. They provide financial calculators and educational articles to help you better understand what credit is all about. Check as often as you want, and it doesn’t hurt your score.  (iOS, Android, Web)

 

Apps for Buyers: Find the Perfect Home

When you’re ready to buy, there are several apps that can help you stay on top of the process. Whether you’re browsing online at different neighborhoods and homes and can’t seem to remember where all your saved data and information went or you want to save an important task or a neighborhood or listing clipped from the Web, these apps help you keep it all straight.

 

10.) Dwellr (Free)

Dwellr is run by the U.S Census Bureau and provides demographic information about the neighborhoods you are considering moving to. You get a variety of education/school, real estate, transportation, and population statistics to give you an idea of what it would be like living there. If you want to get the feel of a potential neighborhood, then Dwellr may just be the app to help you find the best home.  (iOS, Android)

 

11.) Evernote (Free for the Basic version, $34.99 per year for Plus and $69.99 per year for Premium)

Collect ideas, notes and images in one place to access later on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Categorize your notes so you can find them quickly and easily and share them with others in a group notebook. Add the Web Clipper feature to your browser and clip and save articles, blogs and images from the Web. Whether you’re collecting research on a business idea or you’re looking for inspiration for a home renovation, Evernote can help you keep it all together. (Web, iOS, Android)

 

12.) Mortgage Calculator (Free)

There are a lot of free mortgage calculators available for download that will help you quickly determine what your monthly payment will be while you’re house hunting. We recommend picking your favorite and using it to help you shop in your price range. These numbers should be used as a guide, work with your agent and mortgage professional to learn exactly what type of loan you’ll qualify for. (Web, iOS, Android)

 

Bonus App for Buyers:

Google Maps (Free)

Google Maps is a must-have for anyone who’s house hunting. When you’re ready to visit a property or check out a neighborhood, you can use Google Maps to give you turn by turn directions to the house. You can use their satellite view to get a good idea how far important things like schools, parks, shopping, bus stops, and restaurants are to a home you are interested in and check out the other houses on the street. (Web, Android, iOS,)

 

Ready to move beyond the app?

If you’re thinking of buying or selling your home, or know someone who is, keep me in mind, I'm happy to help!

 

Sources:

1. Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/

 2. Deloitte, 2016 global mobile consumer survey: US edition https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey-us-edition.html

3. Gallup, July 9, 2015 http://www.gallup.com/poll/184046/smartphone-owners-check-phone-least-hourly.aspx

 

 

Mortgage Basics: How to Qualify.

If you’re thinking about homeownership you probably have some questions. Can I afford a home? Do I qualify for a mortgage? How much home can I afford? You can google to find a myriad of mortgage calculators. If you’re serious about buying a home, I highly recommend finding a lender or mortgage broker you’re comfortable with and get pre-qualified. The lender will take some basic information and tell you what you can afford, then you have about 120 days to shop as a pre-qualified buyer. This is different than being pre-approved...that’s when you actually fill out the mortgage application and your credit is checked. Getting pre-qualified will also let realtors know that you are serious about buying and not just window shopping. 

 

Before starting the home buying process, consider these mortgage basics: 

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Total Obligations Ratio (TOR): Basically, this is your percentage of debt to income. Add all your monthly debts together (Car, credit cards, student loans, etc.) then add your new mortgage payment. DON’T forget about property taxes, insurance, homeowners association and any other fees associated with your home. This is extremely important because this can add HUNDREDS to your monthly expenses. You will be disappointed if you think you can afford an $1,800 mortgage just to find that your taxes and insurance tack on another $600 a month...now you can’t afford that $1,800 payment because it’s $2,400 total! 

 

Another monthly fee you may not consider (generally if you put less than 20% down) is private mortgage insurance. You can thank the housing bust for that. More info on Understanding PMI to come! 

 

Back to Total Obligations Ratio (TOR) ...take all your expenses ÷ total gross income (before taxes)= TOR. If your debt exceeds 36% of your income you probably won’t qualify for a conventional loan (unless you lower the loan amount). However, FHA could still be an option. 

 

Example: Car Payment $360, Student Loan Payment $325, expected house payment  $1,680 (principal/interest, taxes, insurance) Monthly Debt $2,365 ÷ $6,700 (gross income) = .3529 (35.3%) TOR

 

Here is a matrix provided by FannieMae (Non-conventional government loans) if you’re on the bubble of qualification and would like more information.

 

https://www.fanniemae.com/content/eligibility_information/eligibility-matrix.pdf

 

These numbers are just guidelines to get you started. There are usually exceptions. A good mortgage broker can shop around and find different options that will fit your needs. Contact me and I will help connect you to a mortgage broker in your area.