The Surprising Effect of Homeownership You Won’t See on HGTV

home pet

I saw this article and thought it should be shared!  So many people watch HGTV and think “hey, that’s not heard-I can do it!”

Reality TV can be glamorous; yet despite the name, doesn’t usually reflect real life.  Here’s how your life will actually (positively) change after buying a home. 

Questions You Should Ask When Buying New Construction

What to ask when buying new construction

There’s nothing like moving into a home that is truly new, with no smells, smudges or dust left behind by a previous owner. Even better is when you get to make your own custom selections. But buying from a builder is a different ball game and it’s important you know how to play. Consider these questions if you are considering new construction.

Should you use a real estate agent? I think so! The builder may have sales agents or an assistant that helps buyer’s through the process, but those people work for the builder. It’s always a good idea to have a professional advocating for you, and most builders will pay agents a commission for bringing the buyer. It’s important that your agent accompany you to the first visit to the model center or builders’ office so that representation is established.

Does the builder have a good reputation? We’ve all heard stories of builders who fail to deliver on their promises, using lower grade materials than quoted, or even disappearing before the work was completed. Check out your builder before signing anything. Find out if there are any complaints registered against them and ask for references from other homeowners. Find out if you can tour a model or a recently completed home, and bring someone who can judge the quality of the workmanship.

Should you use the builders’ lender? Many builders work with a preferred lender that offers attractive discounts on closing costs when you finance through them. It’s important to know if the lender is working as a referral or if the mortgage company is owned by the same company that is building your home. If your lender and builder both work for the same company, it’s a good idea to have an attorney review your contracts as an independent set of eyes.

What are the deed restrictions and is there an HOA? Developers usually file a subdivision’s restrictive covenants when applying for approval to build the development. Any persons buying property in the development are bound to abide by these restrictions. You can get a copy of the deed restrictions from the builder. Also ask if there is, or will be, a homeowner’s association, what the HOA fees will be and what they cover.

Can the builder charge extra for unexpected cost increases? Look over the builder’s contract carefully, or have an attorney do so, and note if there is an escalation clause that would allow the builder to pass cost increases onto you in the event that materials or labor costs increase during construction.

What warranties are provided? Normally a builder offers a warranty lasting from six months to two years, possibly longer for some items. You should know what is covered under the builder’s warranty and for how long. All the major structural items and mechanical systems are usually covered. Appliances are not, but they should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Damage from weather, shrinkage or expansion of the home or foundation, and anything resulting from the homeowner’s failure to provide maintenance or from work done on the home after construction is not covered.

What is the timeline for completion? This will depend on whether the build is a production home, meaning the builder is building select models throughout a development, or if you have hired the builder to build a custom home. Production homes can be completed in three to four months, where custom homes usually take a minimum of six months. Regardless, the builder should be able to give you a timeline outlining each phase of construction. Factors affecting the timeline include weather, delays receiving building supplies, or the number of changes you make along the way.

Can you choose different finishes or colors? Again, it depends on the type of build. Certainly, if you are building a custom home, you can make as many changes as you are willing to pay for. But if the home is part of a development and the builder has color palettes and finishes chosen, there may be a limit to how much you can change. Often the builder will allow you to change paint colors, flooring, fixtures, tile or appliances, as long as what you choose is in line with the budget he set, and those items have not already been ordered.

Can you get a credit if you buy your own appliances? If you already own your own appliances or prefer to choose something different from the builder’s choice, ask if you can be credited back the amount he had budgeted to pay for those items.

Is landscaping included? It’s no fun to get to the end of construction and find out there is no budget for landscaping. Find out what the builder plans to put in in terms of grass, trees, and shrubbery. You may want to make additions or changes to his landscape plan.

The Importance of Pre-Approval

home calculator

A lot of people looking for real estate to buy do not know the importance of getting pre-approved for a loan BEFORE they begin looking for a property.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. You could lose out on a home you love.  Especially when it is a seller’s market–like it is currently–you could lose a home you really liked because you did not have your pre-approval letter while someone else had theirs.
  2. It adds leverage to your offer.  When submitted the pre-approval letter with your offer right off of the bat, they see that you are serious about your offer and that you are good for the money you are offering.  Put yourself in the sellers’ shoes–would you want to accept an offer that you weren’t certain they could really give you?
  3. It shows what price range you are comfortable with financially.  If you are out searching for homes and you do not know your price range that is determined by a lender, you are truly doing yourself a disservice.  You not only would be wasting your time if you were in the wrong range, but you could be seeing homes that are totally above your price point.  In this case, once you begin seeing homes you can afford you will only be able to compare it to the nicer homes you saw at a higher price point, which can make it quite difficult to find something you’re happy with.

So, just do the research or ask your REALTOR® for recommendations on lenders.  Find one you are comfortable with.  Ask for a pre-approval letter.  Find a property!

Technology and Real Estate: The What, Why & How

real estate technology








Ah technology.  You either hate it or you love it.  For real estate?  You ought to start loving it.

I was reading in one of the real estate Facebook groups about an agent who was working with another agent in a deal and she was complaining about how the other agent did not use online services for e-signatures and emailing paperwork.  Instead, the other agent had to always meet in person and had a fax machine.  Now, I do not know about you-but I have not heard someone say “will you fax me that” in quite a while.  In real estate, especially now with limited inventory, using technology should become a new norm.  Here are some reasons for the client and the real estate agent for doing so:

  1. With limited inventory, you MUST act fast.  If you are a client working with an agent and either one of you or both of you do not use technology to its advantage, you could miss out on a deal.  Say you are at a house, you want to put in an offer but you don’t have access to a fax machine or copier so you cannot get the documents to the seller’s agent.  What do you do?  You then have to make a trip back out to the office, find a number to send the documents to (if they have a fax number anymore), copy all of the documents needed and send them over.  Think about the time it took.  If you had a phone, laptop or tablet things would turn out differently.  I use a program where I can electronically pull up all of my required documents with a couple clicks.  I can use in person signing and BAM-everything is sent to my client so they have copies and to the seller’s agent so they instantly have access to present the offer.  Now if it was between me and my client and the group in the first scenario-who’s offer would get to the agent first?
  2. You will have more access to homes available.  There are apps like Zillow and like the one I provide HERE, that allows you to search in the moment based on your location.  As a REALTOR®, I take my laptop, iPad and iPhone with me literally everywhere.  If I am out with a client showing a home, then they say-I think I saw a home on x street and I want to see it.  I whip out my iPad and am able to use hotspot and find the home and schedule an appointment.  Not only this-but I have access to all documents provided by that seller (seller’s disclosure) where I can show my client and email it directly for them to access once we part ways for the day.
  3. Think GREEN.  Less paperwork, less stress on the environment, too!  Most agents will print a sheet for their client at a showing and one for them that has all of the details about the home.  I am, again, able to use my iPad for my side of this and still give my client one to take home and take notes on.  In turn, it cuts down on printing by half.  Not only is this great for the environment-but it saves you money on ink and paper!

Essentially, everything you need is at your fingertips.  As an agent, it is SO important to be able to provide this type of service to your clients.  As a client, is it great to be able to have access to everything you need when you want it.  No more wondering which file it is in, if it got mixed up and thrown away or if your dog at it.

Technology is the future, and the future is NOW!  Do not be left behind.