Online Mortgage Companies

Online Mortgage Companies

  So, you’re in the market for a new home and you need a mortgage. It is a great idea to shop around. While rates are mostly based on you as an individual and likely won’t change with vendors, there are other factors that can cost you more from company to company. My first recommendation is to ask your Realtor. If you don’t have a Realtor, ask a friend for a referral if they were happy with their lender. You will likely check out online mortgage companies as well. I will give you some pros and cons and things to watch out for. A personal referral is almost always a great way to go. Here’s why: Someone you know and trust has used them or recommends them. Depending on the referrers relationship, you may get some discounts on fees or they may rush the process if needed. This lender will likely check lots of options for you and suggest the one or two loan programs that suit your needs best. You have a personal advocate to work things out on your behalf and you aren’t going through a call center. If they are local, you can go to their office to go through paperwork so you understand the process and what you are signing. Online mortgage companies can be great, but they can also be a nightmare. Here’s why: Unless you have been referred to an actual person at an online company, you are just getting whomever happens to be next on the list at the time you contact them. They may or may not have a good amount of experience. Some online mortgage companies tout low rates but you need to make sure to get a list of all the fees they will charge. Unfortunately, even if you ask for all fees up front, you may have a surprise fee show up in the process or even at the closing. Since you don’t have a personal relationship, some online mortgage company employees can be a bit more callus and not be as concerned with your referrals or reviews, therefore, not advocate for you if things go wrong. Some online mortgage companies may not have the ability to do all types of loans, therefore, they may push you into a loan that isn’t really the best for you. If/when delays happen or issues arise, it is much harder to get to a person in a superior position to help. The most delays and disappointment I have seen my clients deal with is when they have used an online mortgage company. This is not to say that some have not had great experiences, but the majority have not. Rule of...

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We’re Closing!

We’re Closing!

  You have been keeping your house clean for what seems like an eternity. A Buyer came along and you negotiated the terms and your agent calls to say, “We’re closing!” So now what? There are several things you need to know and to consider about the closing. If you read my blog Read The Contract!, you will know how important it is to read what you are signing. Not only can you get into legal trouble if you don’t, you may not understand the important details of the actual closing and your move. I go over the contract with my clients but even still, there is so much information and many times, emotion, that not everyone understands the details they are agreeing to. Let’s take a look at some details that can be overlooked:   Closing and Possession Date:Are these dates the same? In Tennessee, most of the time they are but not necessarily. If they are the same, that means that when you go to closing to sign the paperwork, if you are the Seller, you need to be out of the house for good. If you are the Buyer, when you go to closing, as long as the house has been paid for (I will talk about this point in more detail), you should receive keys and be allowed to move in immediately. As a Seller, if you know you are going to need more time to get out, that needs to be discussed in negotiations. As a Buyer, if you need to get into the house prior to closing, that needs to be negotiated on the front end. Be sure to communicate timing with your agent or the other party. Your closing may be first thing in the morning and the other party may not be signing papers until the end of the business day if the closings are “split.” This may cause some confusion as to when the Seller needs to be out and when the Buyer can move in. Funding:Whether the Buyer is paying cash or getting a loan, the money needs to be in the hands of the title company and possibly even the Seller, before the keys will be given and the Buyer will gain possession.  If there is a loan involved, the loan will need to be funded by the mortgage company and the down payment and any closing costs will need to be received. Many people think that since they signed the paperwork, it is a done deal and the Buyer can move in. Just like you can’t walk out of a grocery store with a full cart without paying, you can’t move into a house you haven’t paid...

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READ THE CONTRACT!

READ THE CONTRACT!

  I get so many calls from clients and agents asking me questions. Sure, I can just give them the answer, and ultimately, I do, but I also ask, “have you read the contract?” When was the last time you signed something you didn’t read? Think about it. I bet it was more recent than you remember. Did you click, “I agree” to something online without reading it so you could move on to the next step? Did you sign a car rental contract or a form at the doctor’s office without reading it? We are all guilty of it. I wonder what sort of issues we could get into from some of the legal documents we sign that we don’t read. We don’t know! Well, the legal ramifications of us not reading the 20 items before we click “I agree” to buy a song on iTunes is probably much less than they are on a purchase and sale agreement in real estate. When everything goes as planned and both parties do their part and the sale closes without incident, no problem. However, what happens when it doesn’t? Do you know how you can lose your earnest money? Are you sure? Do you know how you can keep a Buyer’s earnest money? Are you sure? Do you know how you can get out of a contract? Do you know how many days you have to apply for your loan? Did you know a Buyer needs to provide notice to the Seller that the appraisal has been ordered – and paid for? Do you know how long the parties have for inspections? What is a resolution period? When does it start? And how long is it? If you write multiple Counter Offers, do all the points on all the forms go into effect? Can I take the custom drapes that I had made for my Dining Room? What is a fixture? I can take the rose bush that was my mother’s that is planted in the backyard, right? I said I was getting a Conventional loan but changed my mind, does this matter? What are the things I have to pay for at closing? Wait a minute! I got to closing and there is a charge for Transfer Fee that I am having to pay for. What is that and why do I have to pay for it? What’s a performance deadline? Most of these items are answered in the Purchase and Sale Agreement. If you read it, you will know the answer to it. A few are more detailed and are things that only good agents may know the answer to (rose bush). These are just some reasons to...

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What is a Buyer’s Representation Agreement Anyway?

What is a Buyer’s Representation Agreement Anyway?

  You are in the market for a house. You find a Realtor. They are a family friend, or a referral from a friend, or you found them on the internet. You meet with them and they ask you to sign a contract to represent you. Wait, you haven’t even found a house. What is a Buyer’s Representation Agreement anyway? What does it mean, and should you sign it? First let’s look at the different types of Buyer representation agreements. (Disclaimer: This is for the State of Tennessee. You will want to check with your state to find out what types they use.) There are two main types with two sub-types. There are Exclusive and Non-Exclusive as well as Buyer Agency and Designated Agency. Exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement: This is an agreement that says the agent or company is the only agent or company that has the right to represent the buyer in a residential real estate transaction. Non-exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement: This agreement allows a Buyer to hire more than one agent or company to represent them in a residential real estate transaction. Buyer Agency: Under this type of Buyer’s Representation Agreement, the entire real estate company technically represent the Buyer. Designated Agency: This type of Buyer’s Representation Agreement will designate one agent in a company to represent the Buyer. Why would you sign them? Exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement – Buyer Agency/Designated Agency: A Buyer has one agent or one company working for them. Some buyers may think they will get more results if they hire more than one agent. In my experience, agents/companies tend to work harder for the buyers that are working with them exclusively. This type of agreement obligates both parties to each other which typically forms a loyalty from day one and will cause an agent/company to put every effort into finding the perfect property for the buyer, knowing that if/when they do, they will get paid. Non-exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement – Buyer Agency/Designated Agency: Some investors decide that this is the best agreement to sign because agents/companies may have access to different off-market properties. This may be true for some, however, my opinion is that a buyer will typically get the best service if the agent/company knows they have their client’s loyalty. Should you sign it? In the state of Tennessee, in order for an agent/company to work for you, there must be a written agreement, so, yes, you should sign it. However, the fact that you sign it, doesn’t mean you are stuck if the agent/company does not perform their duties. Either party may terminate the agreement. If you don’t feel you are receiving the best service, speak to the agent/company. If...

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Fairytales and Real Estate

Fairytales and Real Estate

  It’s about that time where the costumes come out and people are dressed up as all sorts of creatures and other beings. Halloween is fun but sometimes you encounter real life characters. If you are in a business where you have customers or clients, you will probably relate to some, if not all, of these comparisons. I had a client who compared herself to Goldilocks so when I started thinking about it, I realized that there are a lot of correlations between real estate and fairy tales – other than the obvious. Goldilocks – This is the home buyer that looks at everything on the market. This one is too small, the lot on this one is too big. My job is to find the one that is “just right” and help them get it! Chicken Little – This is the home seller that worries about everything – they think the sky is falling when it was only an acorn that hit their head. Is the description good enough on the photos? If we don’t have an offer the first day, what’s wrong? What if buyers don’t like the neutral paint you told us to use? My job is to try to calm their fears on the front end by educating. Selling can be very stressful and if they already have a worrisome personality, it’s all the harder. I tell people what they need to know from my years of experience working with buyers. No two houses are alike so there definitely are some variables I take into consideration. It’s not generally a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. Cinderella – This is the client that just goes with the flow without complaining. They respect my opinions and suggestions based on my experience. They know I am going the extra mile to do everything to either sell their house or find them the perfect house. In the end, it’s a perfect fit and they get an outcome that was even better than expected. And they are usually the ones that give ME a gift at closing. Pinocchio – This buyer doesn’t want me to know that their previous house was foreclosed on a few years ago, that they had a bankruptcy, or want to impress me with how much money they make so they lie to me. I don’t need to know any of this information. Frankly, it’s not my business as a Realtor. What I AM concerned with, however, is that they can qualify for the house so when they talk to the lender, they need to tell them because, guess what? They are going to find out anyway, and it will save some embarrassment later. The Pinocchio seller is the one that...

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Puppy Prozac

Puppy Prozac

  Anyone who knows me, knows my love for animals – especially my two dogs. They have been constantly by my side through many things in my life, one for the last 14 years, the other for 9. The youngest one has always been full of energy. She would chase a ball or a Frisbee for hours. At some point, the energy turned a bit negative and she and her “sister” would get into fights. Something would set her off and they would just go at it. Many tears were shed and quite a bit of money was spent on vet visits and trainers. As her behavior worsened, I finally started putting puzzle pieces together.  She had anxiety, and lots of it. I found a trainer that specialized in these behaviors and we discussed medications since behavioral training alone hadn’t seemed to help much. I took her to the vet and they prescribed her what I call “Puppy Prozac”. I felt bad. For a lot of reasons. I felt bad having to put her on a daily medication. I felt bad that I couldn’t help her any other way. But most of all, I felt bad that I hadn’t done it earlier. It took some time for it to take affect but she is much calmer now. It didn’t change her personality as I had feared and it didn’t take away all her OCD and anxious behavior, but I can leave without her tearing things up and there have been no more vet visits because of sibling rivalry. I realized that I was making excuses. I was brushing it under the rug. I didn’t want to admit there was something wrong. I just thought it was her personality and that I would just have to live with it. What I didn’t consider was how much happier she would be once she took a little pill every day. I see this with homeowners. What? Puppy Prozac? Well, not exactly. What I mean is, I see houses that clearly have some issues. Anyone walking in the door would recognize it immediately but the homeowner doesn’t want to admit it. They don’t want to take responsibility, do the work, or spend the money. So, they let it go. And the result is, it doesn’t go away, it gets worse. That hairline crack that showed up a few years ago that has gotten bigger. The door that was sticking that now won’t even close. The wood that was wet that you can now stick a finger through. The gutters that have been clogged and have turned into water running down the wall in the living room. Most of these things would be fairly...

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