What is a Property Survey and Why You Should Get One Before Buying a House

When buying a home, the last thing you want is a surprise. Most people worry about leaky roofs or rusty boilers. But there may be property issues that can come to light and cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful.

One way to avoid getting in over your head is to get a property survey before you buy. Also known as a house or land survey, it’s the perfect way to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting with the land, so there are no surprises.

How exactly do you go about getting a property survey?

Property Survey Basics

A property survey begins with defining the boundaries of a plot of land. This clarifies the size of the property, and where the land begins and ends.

An updated house survey is also important for legal reasons. This is because municipal laws are not fixed—they change from time to time. For example, the property might have a shed or a fence that was well within the boundaries years ago but after undated municipal border it now encroaches onto a neighbor’s property or too close to the public street. A new survey will give you the confidence that the property complies with current local regulations.

It can also highlight any potential discrepancies or boundary infringements. This can help you avoid any misunderstandings in the future with neighbors or the city.

What do Surveyors Look for in a House Survey?

You might have seen surveyors poking around your neighborhood taking measurements. Most of the time, they have been hired by home buyers or sellers to take surveys, or they could be performing a survey for a property dispute (something a survey can help you avoid!)

When you hire a surveyor here’s what they typically look for:

  • The legal boundaries of the land
  • The locations of any buildings (sheds, storage) on the land
  • Any easements and entrances to the property
  • The topography of the plot, including both natural features such as trees or a river and manmade features including swimming pools or fences

An updated survey will be compared to any previous survey from the last time the house was sold. This way any discrepancies that might appear are known to all parties before the closing.

How Much Does a House Survey Cost?

When getting a property surveyed it’s important to hire a professional. This is one instance where DIY surveys or estimates won’t help. In fact, it can actually hurt you as they are not accepted as legal documentation.

So hiring a surveyor may be worth it to ensure you have records that hold up in court, if it ever comes to that. House survey costs can vary from state to state, but they typically run anywhere from $250 to $1,000.

Check your local state laws regarding costs. In some states, the seller is responsible for the survey or the fees can be negotiated between both parties.

Should I Have a Home Buyers Survey?

The last thing any homeowner wants is to plan a new project only to find out all that land they thought they had wasn’t theirs after all. You can imagine the headaches that scenario can cause!

Nevertheless, this sort of thing can sometimes happen. One way to avoid these issues is to set up a survey. A buyer’s survey can save you from a lot of potential hassles (and even more costs) down the road.

Visit coldwellbanker.com and browse through available homes for sales.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on May 3, 2018 at 10:10 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Starting Fresh: How to Buy a New Home Construction

What could be more exciting than living in a brand new home? The blank slate can be thrilling: living in a place no one has lived before, a home with fresh paint, untouched carpets, and even fresh grass that no one has trodden!

While most of the homes bought and sold are preexisting, more and more buyers are interested in new house construction. There’s no doubt moving into a newly built home is exciting. But this sort of transaction comes with its own set of challenges as well.

Find out all the basics of what you’ll need to know to get started.

Understanding the Types of New Construction Homes for Sale

There are a few different types of new construction homes you might consider. They fall into three main categories:

  1. A home that is pre-built according to design templates
  2. A semi-custom home: the bulk of the house is built and you have the option to pick a few design elements, finishes, and extra upgrades
  3. A fully custom home: you have input on the design from the ground up

If you’d love to be involved in every stage of the building process, an entirely custom home could be a great fit. On the other hand, if you’re ready to move right in and don’t want to bother with all the design details, buying a pre-built home is likely the better option.

Select the Specs of Your Home

Now that you know what kind of new house construction you’re interested in, you want to determine some details about the home of your dreams. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Location: Is it as close to (or far from) the city as you prefer? Will you have a reasonable commute (if that’s a must-have)?
  2. Budget: Will this home fit into your budget—especially if you have the option for upgrades?
  3. Size: Does the home have the size and number of rooms you need?
  4. Neighborhood: Is it still under construction? Do you have ample lawn space or privacy? Are there specific desired amenities such as a swimming pool?

Many new construction homes for sale are in subdivisions. It’s a good idea to drive down and investigate them on your own and see if it has what you’re looking for.

Also, you want to be sure to find out as much as you can about the builder. Start by looking online: search for any reviews, complaints, or lawsuits. This simple step can help you avoid a lot of potential headaches down the road!

Find a Real Estate Agent

Most builders have an agent, but remember that this agent is there with a goal to sell the property. Before you speak with any builders, hire your own real estate agent to make sure your needs and desires are the number one priority.

Another advantage of taking this path is that your agent may have other insights that the builder would not. An agent will know all the unique processes and challenges of how to buy a new construction home better than anyone.

Work with a Lawyer

More often than not, a new construction home will have a more complicated contract than your typical house sale. There are all sorts of details you’ll need to know such information on warranties on the home itself and appliances within the home.

With the amount of paperwork involved in buying a new home, it’s always a good idea to run all the paperwork past a lawyer familiar with real estate language.

Don’t Forget the Home Inspection

Just because the home is a new build doesn’t mean you should skip getting a home inspection. Some new homes can have their own set of problems to watch out for. Insist on getting a comprehensive home inspection before you even begin the price negotiation.

Talk to your real estate agent today to start ironing out all the details of buying a new home.

Posted on April 25, 2018 at 11:07 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , ,

Selling? Low-Cost Home Improvement Fixes that Make Your Home Shine

When selling a home, even tiny fixes can have a big impact. Here are 10 of the best low- (or no-) cost home improvement fixes to make your house stand above the competition:

1. Address the Heart of the Home

In real estate, the kitchen is a main selling feature and can be a make or break deal for potential home buyers. If a new kitchen just isn’t in the cards, consider replacing smaller ticket items and de-cluttering. Low- and no-cost fixes for the kitchen include:

  • New cabinet hardware
  • New faucets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Storing countertop appliances to create more work space
  • Replacing dark valances with lighter fabric or removing them altogether

2. Update Switch Plate Covers

Switch plate and outlet covers are brittle, and can crack and yellow over time, resulting in a home that, no matter how well updated, still looks dated. New outlets and covers can be replaced in a snap for generally under five dollars, making it one of the lowest cost updates available. Consider flat switches that create a modern, streamlined silhouette and stick to white for a timeless look.

3. Beautify the Bathroom

An updated bathroom comes only second to kitchens in a buyer’s list of must-haves, so showing them a clean and uncluttered bathroom will score points with any potential buyer.

New flooring can give an otherwise tired bathroom a much needed facelift and create a newer looking bathroom overall. Coordinating linens, a new shower curtain, and thoroughly cleaned grout can top off this easy home improvement investment.

4. Address Storage

Storage is always a concern for buyers. Installing low-cost closet organizers to your existing space will increase storage and organization in your home. Add storage baskets to hide clutter and you will have beautiful storage spaces that will make any buyer envious.

5. Deep Clean for a Good Return

If your home contains wall to wall carpeting, clean carpets can make a world of difference to a buyer. Cleaning carpets can easily be completed in a weekend with a rental cleaning machine, and it creates a noticeably clean, odor free environment for buyers to tour.

6. Boost Curb Appeal

Nothing boosts curb appeal like a tidy yard. Trim and edge walkways, weed gardens, and trim shrubs for maximum impact. If you have a porch, consider potted, seasonal plants to bring the look together.

7. Improve the First Impression

As buyers approach your home, first impressions matter. Ensuring your entryway is clean and inviting with something as simple as a new mailbox or updated house numbers will make buyers feel welcome. Clean windows and doors for extra impact.

8. Add a Coat of Paint

Freshening up your living space with neutral colors will invite buyers to imagine their belongings in your home and will cover up any nicks, scratches, or dents your wall incurred over years of daily living.

9. Update Lighting

While not the lowest cost solution on our list, you will find that a new light fixture or two really breathes new life into key living spaces. If your budget is tight, look to kitchen, dining, and living rooms for the most bang for your buck.

10. Add Some Decor Pizzazz

Finally, a fresh look can be completed with nothing more than some colorful fabric. Inexpensive pillows and throws in a coordinating palette through your home will create a unified look that will have buyers hooked.

 

Lastly, don’t plan to tackle a home project DIY style until you read 5 Things You Need to Know Before DIY-ing A Home Improvement Project!

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 8:52 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Five Things You Need to Know About Selling a Condo

Thinking of selling your condo? Whether you live in the condo or own it as an investment property, if you’re ready to sell your home, it’s time to talk to a qualified real estate agent in your area. By evaluating several criteria, including regional markets, time of year, features of your condo unit, as well as your specific needs as the seller, he or she can create a customized marketing plan for your condo. Here are five important topics to discuss with your real estate agent if you want to sell your home:

1. Best Time of Year to Sell Your Condo

The specifics of your area do more to determine the best time to put your home on the market than whether you’re selling a condo or a house. While the conventional wisdom is that spring is the best time for selling a home, this belief simply doesn’t ring true in every locale. In recent years the historic patterns have eased, and in some cases, totally disappeared. Still, different parts of the country have periods when sellers can be more aggressive with their pricing. And your real estate agent may suggest a distinct timing strategy for condominium sales, especially if your condo is in a resort destination.

2. Open House Strategy and How to De-Clutter

A condo that shows well will sell faster and bring a higher price. Small cosmetic touch-ups can make a big difference. Buyers often suspect that more serious problems may exist if they notice the need for minor repairs. If you want to sell your home, it’s important to make sure your condo is clean, tidy and free of personal clutter. Clear sinks and counters of dishes and toiletries. Neatly stack office supplies and organize storage areas. Replace dim light bulbs and clean windows. Even though your garden area may be commonly owned, do your best to create curb appeal by cleaning front steps and porches, and clearing lawns of toys or equipment.

3. Features to Accentuate

One of the best features to accentuate when selling a condo is the lifestyle of ease that comes with condominium ownership. Many buyers are looking for the hassle-free living experience that they can’t find with a single-family detached house. Another important attribute of any condo is the amenities of the association, which can include a hot tub, fitness center, owner’s lounge, covered parking and even concierge services. If you’re considering selling your condo, take the time to walk through it methodically with your real estate agent. Together you can point out which features of the actual condo unit should be accentuated. Does your unit have a wonderful view? Perhaps the location of your condominium is unique and desirable. Your real estate agent can help accentuate these features in sales and marketing materials.

4. Desired Price and Bottom Line Price

When setting the home price for your condo, it’s important to identify your desired price and your bottom line price. By assessing recent condo sale and listing statistics in your area, your real estate agent and a licensed appraiser can estimate your house value and recommend an appropriate target price range. Working with your agent, you can set an initial asking price, as well the absolute lowest home price you would comfortably accept. One advantage of selling a condo is that by assessing the prices of other units in your association that have recently sold or are currently listed, your real estate agent and the appraiser can determine a very accurate house value.

5. Disclosures

When selling your condo, you may be obligated to disclose problems that could affect the property’s value or desirability, as well as to disclose HOA minutes and costs of common insurance and utilities. In most states, it is illegal to fraudulently conceal major physical defects in your property, such as a water heater that leaks severely. And many states now require sellers to take a proactive role by making written disclosures on the condition of the condo unit. Ask your real estate agent for the particular laws of your state.

After reading this article, read more tips on selling a home and make sure you get the best value on your property on Coldwell Banker’s Seller Resources.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on April 3, 2018 at 9:18 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Sellers Market, selling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can First Time Home Buyers Use a 401k For a Down Payment?

Coming up with a down payment to purchase your first home can feel like a herculean task. How can you possibly save twenty, thirty, fifty thousand dollars—approximately 11% of your home purchase price in 2016 (National Association of Realtors)—to pour into a house? For most individuals, it can be incredibly tough to save enough, particularly if you’re strapped for cash. What can you do?

The good news is that if you’ve been consistent about saving for your retirement, you have a leg up thanks to the two 401k first time home buyer options. These options allow you to supplement your down payment with cash from your 401k. However, not everyone qualifies to use money from a 401k. There are strict rules, so it’s vital that you understand how the process works before you move forward.

Borrowing from 401k

When it comes to borrowing from your 401k to help with your down payment, there are two ways to go about it:

  • Get a 401k loan for home purchase
  • Make a 401k withdrawal

Each of these options comes with its own costs and rewards. Remember that everyone’s financial situation is different and the best way to make the right choice for your situation is to contact a financial advisor and a skilled real estate agent.

401k Loan

First, let’s talk about getting a 401k loan for home purchase. The good news is that, when getting a loan, you don’t owe income taxes or the 10% early withdrawal fee. The bad news is that when you take a loan, it has to be repaid with interest even if you’re just paying the money and interest back out of your own pocket.

However, unlike a typical FHA loan, borrowing from 401k is fairly limited. Your max loan is limited to a specific dollar amount OR one-half of your account balance, whichever is smaller. This means that you need to know your current vested balance.

As for repayment, your 401k loan must be repaid within five years, and payments are required on a quarterly basis—both principal and interest. And your loan payments DO NOT count as contributions to your 401k.

Please note, not all plans permit loans. You’ll need to check with your particular plan to see what is allowed. Additionally, before moving forward with this option it’s advisable to check in with a financial advisor to ensure this option is right for you.

401k Withdrawal

The second option for a 401k first time home buyer is a withdrawal. Compared to a 401k loan, it’s much simpler. The money is yours once you take it out and it does not have to be repaid. But there are a few more details. To withdrawal money from your 401k, you have to meet a few criteria including age restriction and financial hardship.

Only if your employer allows withdrawals and you can prove to the IRS that you are experiencing financial hardship can you even consider withdrawal. From there, your withdrawal has a certain dollar limit, and you must pay income tax on the full amount.

The other option for a withdrawal is to cash out on an old 401k. However, if you use this option, you’ll be required to pay both the 10% early withdrawal penalty as well as income tax.

Before you pursue this path or cross it off, be sure to get the opinion of a financial advisor who has access to your personal financial details.

401k Loan vs. Withdrawal

In most cases, a 401k loan may be easier to obtain and doesn’t come with the penalties associated with an early withdrawal. Of course, the downside is that you’ll eventually have to pay it back in five years.

So, why would you use your 401k to help purchase your first home?

Depending on your financial circumstances, this option may be more financially feasible than paying private mortgage insurance, and the interest goes back in your pocket. Another option is to use your IRA to avoid the 10% penalty. IRA withdrawals up to $10,000 are allowed without the 10% early withdrawal penalty, though you’ll still owe income tax.

If you need help figuring out the best option for you when it comes to putting together your down payment with your 401k, contact your personal financial advisor. Then contact a local Coldwell Banker office to find the perfectly priced home for you.

Posted on March 27, 2018 at 9:03 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Buying a House as a Police Officer, Firefighter, or EMT

Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and teachers give so much to our country. They selflessly put their lives on the line to protect us, take care of our children, and help us accomplish our dreams. So it’s only right that they have the same opportunity to achieve their own American dream of buying a home.

Unfortunately, even though these public servants are working tirelessly in essential roles, they often have a difficult time purchasing property. Too often, it’s just out of reach financially.

The good news is that thanks to a range of public and governmental programs, these public servants have more opportunities than ever to buy a house at affordable rates and through a simplified process. There are options for tax breaks, down payment help, subsidized mortgage interest, and reduced closing costs. It’s all about making homes for heroes a realistic venture. Let’s talk about what’s available!

Mortgage Loan Assistance

There are many different private home loans for teachers, health care professionals, and rescue workers, and law enforcement personnel. These loans typically offer the lowest mortgage rates possible—though it’s still important to shop lenders to find the best deal.

One such program is Freddie Mac’s Home Possible Program, which offers first responder home loans that finance up to 100% of the purchase price. There are also similar programs offered through Fannie Mae and many other private banks. We recommend checking with lenders in your area.

You should also check with your state and/or city to see if there are similar programs. For example:

  • New Jersey offers first responders a discounted mortgage rate that can be up to a full percentage point less than the market rate
  • Alaska has a program for health care and school workers that finances 100% of a home’s purchase price and includes subsidized interest rates

Mortgage Credit

Beyond lower interest rates and financing 100% of your home, the IRS offers Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs) to help make homes for heroes easier to purchase. This credit differs from state to state but can enable teachers, police, firefighters, and EMTs to buy a more expensive house with the same income.

How does it work?

An MCC allows you to deduct your mortgage interest and gives you credit against tax liabilities. This means that your lender will subtract the credit from your house payment when calculating your debt-to-income ratio so that you can get a larger loan.

For example, let’s say you get a 20% MCC and you paid $15k in interest over the last year. That’s a credit of $3k per year, or $250 per month. That means that you can afford a home loan that’s $250 per month more expensive than otherwise.

Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program

Thanks to the Teacher Next Door’s First Time Buyer Program, there are home loans for teachers, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers only. What does this program include specifically?

  • $0 in application fees and up-front pre-approval
  • Low down payment options and down payment assistance
  • Closing costs grants
  • Home loan assistance

This program was designed to increase home ownership for specific public servants and to streamline the home buying process. As for the grants for police officers to buy homes and others, they do not have to be repaid and are subject to availability.

HUD Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Finally, there’s the Good Neighbor Next Door program offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This program provides full-time firefighters, law enforcement professionals, teachers, and EMTs homes at 50% of their value. That means you pay monthly mortgage payments on just $150,000 for a $300,000 house ($850 versus $1600 per month).

How does it work?

  • Buyers have to be willing to live in the property for at least three years
  • The property must be located in a HUD designated area, which refers to a Revitalization Area as determined by home ownership rates, average household income, and FHA foreclosure activity

To learn about additional assistance programs for public servants, contact Coldwell Banker today. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect home for you.

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling, working with a real estate agent is an essential part of the process. But before choosing an agent to work with, there are a few key questions to ask to determine if their expertise & marketing tactics are right for you — and your home.

So, how do you know if when you’ve found “the one?” Consider asking these questions that cover everything from an agent’s experience to marketing plans, track records of success and staging tips. Armed with these answers, you can be confident that you’re choosing a real estate professional that fits your needs.

In this episode of NBC Open House, Tim Murray of Coldwell Banker Roth Wehrly Graber & Wendy Walker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage share their must-asks.

To find the right agent for you, visit coldwellbanker.com.

Source: CB Blue Matter Blog

Posted on December 20, 2017 at 9:24 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: first time buyers, real estate, Real Estate Agent, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Secrets to Selling: Tips from Real Estate Insiders

Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals weigh in on what you need to know when navigating the real estate process.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. And if you’re selling for the first time, there’s so much you need to know, it can often be overwhelming.  To uncover some of the insider secrets, we turned to Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals to weigh in on what you need to know, whether you need help selecting the right real estate agent, or are looking for tips on how to market your property.
In this recent episode of NBC Open House, Coldwell Banker Real Estate professionals Dave Bunker with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry & Walston in Cary, NC and Angel Piontek with Coldwell Banker Elite in Fredricksburg, VA share their best tips for navigating the real estate process.
To find a real estate professional in your area, visit coldwellbanker.com.
Source: CB Blue Matter Blog
Posted on November 21, 2017 at 9:31 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Bidding, Bidding War, Homeowners, real estate, Sellers Market, selling, staging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Condo vs. Townhouse

Condo and townhouses are often lumped together, but have some significant differences. Agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explains the differences between the two.

I’ll admit it, I’ve owned a condo for the last three and a half years and just found out what the difference was between a townhouse and a condo. While you would think that they’re pretty much the same thing, there are some key differences that might be critical to you depending on your situation and appetite for being responsible for home repair.

Here’s star listing agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explaining what the differences are between the two.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Posted on August 9, 2017 at 9:08 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, bid, Bidding, Buyer's Market, Buyers, buying, closing, closing costs, credit score, debt, equity, escrow, first time buyers, Foreclosures, Homeowners, hot market, Offers, real estate, selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,