Sunday, August 24, 2014

Consider these things before buying a home - By Carrie Colby

When buying a home, it’s easy to let emotions get in the way of reality, or get sudden amnesia about factors that may make a difference.
You may see a basketball hoop over the garage and assume the neighborhood is great for kids. But a closer inspection may show that it’s rusted and hasn’t seen a ball in a decade, and that other yards in the neighborhood have no jungle gyms or tire swings out back.

Visit at various times of day
The seemingly quiet residential street may be a noisy, street during morning or evening rush hour. The adjacent school may seem like a nice perk if you’re buying in the summer, but during the school year, daily playground noise and extra traffic may be more than you bargained for.

Talk to neighbors
How many people in the neighborhood own their homes? Sometimes it’s hard to tell at first if you’re choosing a neighborhood that’s primarily rental houses.

Quiz the sellers
What problems are they aware of that the house had in the past – even if they’ve been fixed? An ice dam five years ago may have caused water damage that has since been repaired. But it’s good to know that the house may be prone to ice dams so you can take preventive measures rather than find out the hard way. Discovering the basement flooding was solved by building up the landscaping in a particular area will prevent you from leveling the ground there in later years.

Get a home inspection
Virtually all houses have defects, according to National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents. Some will be obvious and most will be curable. But knowing what needs fixing can help you negotiate a lower price – or at least prepare you for costs you’re soon to incur. Strongly consider getting inspections, too, for lead paint, radon and wood-eating pests.

Get detailed records on past improvements
This isn’t always possible. But if you’re told the house’s exterior was painted two years ago – and then see a receipt noting the whole project cost just $1,000 – then you’ll be forewarned that cheaper materials were used and that you may be looking at repainting sooner than you thought.

Don’t just assume remodeling will be a snap
If you voice your ideas to the sellers, you may be able to glean valuable insights. For instance, perhaps that shower is in an odd location because, when remodeling 10 years ago, the previous owners discovered a costly structural impediment to putting a shower where it would seem more appropriate.

Ask for utility bills
You may adore the Cape Cod architectural style or the high ceilings and walls of glass in a modern home – but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may push your monthly payments beyond affordable.

Check with the town hall
Look into the property’s and neighborhood’s zoning, as well as any potential easements, liens or other restrictions relating to your property. The seller should disclose these facts, but it’s better to be safe. Your buyer’s agent, he or she should be able to help you with this.

Explore the surrounding area
If you’re not just making a cross-town move, you may not know that only three blocks away, this pretty neighborhood backs up to a commercial area or a less-than-exceptional part of town. If the home is near an airport, fire station, police station, hospital or railroad track, expect to hear trains, planes or ambulances throughout the day and night.    

Carrie Colby owns Premier Properties and is a licensed Broker.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to pay off your mortgage early! - By Lisa DiBiase, Realtor

Let’s be honest, the first of the month creeps up on everyone and the mortgage payment is due. The new trend of paying off the mortgage early is in and refinancing to take money out of our homes is out. Living through the foreclosure crisis, more people want the security and the psychological benefit of owning their home free and clear.
If you want to pay off your mortgage early, you'll find plenty of experts recommending ways to do it. All strategies work, but you'll find some methods of paying off your mortgage are safer, faster, and more painless than others.

Tips to pay off mortgage early:

Make an extra house payment each quarter, and you’ll save a great portion of money in interest and reduce the length of your mortgage substantially. If you pay a little more principal, you get a bonus. The lower your principal gets, the more every payment from then on is applied to principal, as less goes to cover interest expense.

Divide your payment by 12 and add that amount to each monthly payment, or pay half of your payment every two weeks, also known as bi-weekly payments. Biweekly payments take advantage of the fact that there are 52 weeks in the year and 12 months. If you pay half your regular mortgage payment every other week, you'll have made 26 half-payments, or the equivalent of 13 full monthly payments, at year's end. You’ll make one extra payment each year shaving years off your mortgage. 

Round up your payments so you’re paying at least a few extra dollars a month. When you pay extra, make sure the extra is applied to the principal balance, not just set aside for the next payment.
Increase your payment when you get a raise or bonus.

Always check with your mortgage company before you make additional principal payments. Some companies will only accept extra payments at specific times or they may charge prepayment penalties. And always make sure the additional money is applied to the principal and not next month’s payment.
Whether you plan to pay off your mortgage early or not, some of these steps can be applied to other types of debt. It all boils down to hard work.

As I have said since the beginning, please call a local Realtor for all your real estate needs no matter how big or small. We are trained professionals here to make your life easier. It's best to surround yourself with the right team of professionals that can continuously give you the right advice for all your circumstances.

Lisa DiBiase is a co-owner/Realtor at Landing Real Estate in Portland.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Should you have a Buyer's Agent when buying a home? - By Matthew Trudel

Should you have a realtor working for you as a Buyer’s Agent when buying a home for sale? 
I won't give you the answer, but I will give you something very simple to think about. 

Who pays the commission to the realtors involved in a transaction? The seller right? 

Not if you ask me, because when everyone shows up at the closing, the buyer is the only one who brings money to the table. After all the paper work is signed, the seller and the realtor(s) walk out with checks. The seller may set up some of the terms under which the realtor gets paid, but the buyer is the one who pays everyone. 

So if you buy a house and don't have a realtor and the seller does have a realtor, then you are paying that realtor to work against you and represent the seller’s best interests not your best interests. It is almost like going to court against someone and hiring a lawyer for the opposing party and not hiring a lawyer for yourself, and the amount involved in the law suit is $250,000 (or whatever the house is worth). 

Still not convinced, then think about this: 

You buy a house for $200,000 and don't use a realtor but the seller had a realtor and that realtor got paid a commission of 5 percent or $10,000 and the seller got $190,000. If you had just walked up to the seller the day he first thought of selling his home and offered him $190,000 he most likely would have sold you the property because that is all he got in the above transaction. So you paid $10,000 more to cover the realtor who represented the seller when you could have had someone representing you and helping you through the whole process and the realtors would have split the $10,000. 

Want to know how you can possibly get part of that money ($10,000) back, talk to a realtor and talk about how to work together to find you a home that meets all your needs and expectations.