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Monday, October 26, 2015

Did Someone Die In Your House?

Would you pay $11.99 to check your address for murders, suicides, suspicious or natural deaths, meth lab activity or fires? 

For some people, a death in a home, even of natural causes, can deter them from purchasing or renting a home. In Minnesota, deaths from natural causes do NOT have to be disclosed in a Seller's Property Disclosure Statement. a web-based service that helps you find out if anyone has died at any valid US address by instantly providing you with information that may impact your decision to purchase or rent a house starting at $11.99 per search.

They also include a search for known meth lab activity and fires in a home. These items are required to be disclosed on a MN Seller's Property Disclosure Statement though it's buyer beware as many sellers may be unaware of things that happened before they owned the home that were not disclosed to them and no matter what, you should always get a professional home inspection done.

Just as with any service, Died in House™ does not guarantee to have identified or confirmed all deaths that have occurred in or at a specific address and they provide no representation as to the presence of any ghost, haunting or any other paranormal activity; or the nature of any such future activities.

Does the thought of buying a home that may have had a death, paranormal activity REALLY BOTHER YOU?  Call me and I will help find out more about researching these things or help you look into building a new construction home.

Are you ready to start your home search regardless?

As a seller, are you questioning what else you may have to disclose when you sell your home? Let's chat further about your options and requirements.

You may also be interested in a C.L.U.E. report or radon testing. There is so much to know when buying a home! Don't get stuck with a rookie!  Call me today!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How do you find the best deal on a mortgage?

Do you know how to find the best "deal" on a mortgage?

It's starts by know the right questions to ask and your goals. Nobody wants to make mistakes that cost them money and a little knowledge and planning could save you big on your mortgage!

First, let's think about your homeownership plans and goals.

  • What do you want your monthly payment to be?
  • How long do you plan to live in the house?
  • How much money do you have for a down payment?
  • How much do you have to pay closing costs?
  • Do you plan to remodel or gain equity quickly to refinance in under 5 years? 

Explaining your plan to a mortgage professional will allow them to best match you with a program that fits your needs.  Finding the right program is the primary way to get the best deal on a mortgage. Interest rates can be the number one expense in home loan! You may want to learn more about what affects your interest rate.

Other things you can ask to compare mortgages and save money are:

  • If I increase my credit score, is there a better program for me?
  • Is there a rate lock or rate guarantee program?
  • Is there a way to remove mortgage insurance (if applied) without waiting a certain time period?
  • If I put down more money is there a better option?

Other areas to save money by shopping around:

  • Homeowners Insurance - This can be all over the board and depends on your credit score and if you are bundling other insurances.
  • Inspection Fees - You want to know base charges, trip charges and add-on charges (like Radon or Lead Paint testing) upfront.
  • Title Insurance - though this doesn't seem to vary by much by Title Co. in MN.

You can ask for discounts but many of them come with a price. Lenders have a bottom line and where you save in one area, you may sacrifice in another. For example, a "warehouse lender" may seem like their rates or fees are lower but you don't have the personal service because they deal in volume.
Saving $500 in fees may not be worth the lack of communication and delays or worse, not getting to closing at all.

Have more questions about the mortgage process? Call me and I will help you find some of the best lenders to help you navigate the process!

See other sources like Bankrate if you like to research.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Considerations When Buying a Home For Sale By Owner

Are you considering purchasing a For Sale By Owner House?

When you are looking for a home to buy, you want to consider every option. While most homes that are for sale are listed with real estate agents and put the the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) occasionally a homeowners try to sell their house themselves. Many of these homes you find simply by driving past and some are online.

While there are some companies that sell "FSBO packages" that give homeowners a lot of supplies for selling their home and even a listing on the MLS, it usually doesn't include much guidance or professional advice about the process or completing forms.

Because real estate transactions are the largest purchase of most people's lives, they can have pretty complicated contracts and have a lot of steps in the process, it's best to call a REALTOR® before contacting the owner directly.

A real estate agent can walk you through the steps in the process from evaluating the price and filling out the contracts to managing the transaction through closing.

Read more home search tips and information on everything from buying a foreclosure to the risk of calling the listing agent directly right here on this blog!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do You Know WHY The Listing Agent Wants you To Call Them Directly About The Home They Are Selling?

Why would a listing agent want you to call them directly about purchasing a home they have listed for sale instead of using your own agent?

It's actually quite simple.

1) In most cases, if you buy it from the listing agent directly, without your own agent, they get double the commission (because they get the commission that would have been otherwise paid out to the buyer's agent).

2) If you don't buy that house they have listed they have the opportunity to sell you a different one.

3) Bragging rights to the seller that they found a buyer... even if you really found the house by driving past the sign - and any agent can put a sign in the yard.

Heck, all those things sound great to me as the listing agent!

So why does that matter to you as the buyer and how does that affect you?

Well, in Minnesota, we have  disclosure call AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS IN REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS that explains how you can choose to be represented in a real estate transaction. Under Minnesota law this form must be presented at first substantive contact to a buyer or seller in any real estate transaction. 

This form explains four relationships stated below and has you sign to acknowledge that you have been given the options and understand that you are not represented until you choose an agency agreement and will simply be treated as a customer. It goes on to say that dual agency requires written consent.

  1. Seller’s/Landlord’s Broker (Owes their client Fiduciary Duties)
  2. Buyer’s/Tenant’s Broker (Owes their client Fiduciary Duties)
  3. Dual Agency - Broker Representing both Seller/Landlord and Buyer/Tenant 
  4. Facilitator 

So, let's think about how these relationships apply to calling the listing broker/agent directly. Because that agent is already representing the seller under #1, the Seller's Broker, that only leaves you withe #3 and #4 as options.

#3 is Dual Agency.
This role limits the level of representation the broker/agent can provide, and prohibits them from acting exclusively for either party. 
In a dual agency, confidential information about price, terms and motivation for pursuing a transaction will be kept confidential unless one party instructs the broker or salesperson in writing to disclose specific information about him or her. Other information will be shared. Dual agents may not advocate for one party within the limitations described above, dual agents owe to both Seller/Landlord and Buyer/Tenant the fiduciary duties described below.(2) Dual agents must disclose to Buyers material facts as defined in MN Statute 82.68, Subd. 3, of which the broker is aware that could adversely and significantly affect the Buyer’s use or enjoyment of the property. (MN Statute 82.68, Subd. 3 does not apply to rental/lease transactions.)

SO... BOTH PARTIES LOSE THE BENEFIT OF HAVING AN AGENT NEGOTIATE ON THEIR BEHALF.  Often, informed sellers will not agree to this since they have often hired the agent to get the best terms and price for their home.

If the seller doesn't agree to the dual agency, you as the buyer are left with only one option for help, having the Listing Broker/Agent be a facilitator on your behalf... and that means they are only helping you with paperwork and it is still their job to negotiate against you, the buyer.


So, let's circle back to having your own agent representing you; choosing a Buyer’s/Tenant’s Broker agreement.

In this case, you are represented by an agent whose job it is to work on YOUR BEHALF in the transaction.  They have fiduciary duties TO YOU: Loyalty, Obedience, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Reasonable Care, Accounting. 

Sounds good but expensive right?  Wrong!  Buyer's agent are most commonly paid by the seller! WHAT?  WHY would the seller pay for someone to negotiate against them? In the listing agreement, a portion of the listing fee is designated to pay a buyer's agent (cooperating broker).  This is done to encourage the entire state of licensed agents to bring buyers to listing that are not their own increasing the exposure for the seller and allowing the seller to decline dual agency and still get a buyer.

It may still sound a bit complicated but the disclosure was designed to protect the consumer and let them know their rights.  If you would like to discuss it further, please call me!

Need more answers? Read these articles:
Simplified Real Estate Glossary for Home Buyers and Sellers
Learn the Lingo: Real Estate Vocabulary 101 - Virtual Home Tours
Home Selling Help

Real estate gimmicks

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Now You Can Visualize Your New Home in Your Design Style!

Are you struggling to see the potential in the homes you are seeing for sale?

Are you worried that it will cost too much money to make one your own?

Do you feel like you don't know where to start?

PurpleWall can help!

How you say? PurpleWall will take basic information about the rooms you want to customize and connect you to talented designers virtually!  You can set your budget and leave with a shopping list!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

You Want the Best Agent, But Do They Want YOU?

Do the best agents want to work with you?

Of course you want to work with the BEST agent because they will help you get the best price, handle things the best and help you have the best overall experience.

So naturally, the best agents want to focus their attention on the best buyers. So, how can you become one of those great buyers that agents WANT to work with?

Here are 5 tips to help you prove you deserve the best agent:

1. Have a plan for your move.

If you want an agent to bring high energy and attention to your search, make sure you’re clear about your timing. Ideally you’re prepared to purchase within 1-4 months of contacting an agent. It’s fine if it’s longer, as long as you are transparent about it and are contacting them early to help with the planning.
Start Your Plan

2. Get pre-approved and understand exactly how much you can afford.

Sounds obvious, but it’s necessary. Great agents will be far more interested if you can start the conversation with, “Which lender should I contact to get pre-approved? I'd like to have a clear understanding of what I can afford in the local area." or "I’ve been pre-approved for a $400,000 house, and I’ve got a down payment of $50,000 saved up. Given my household income, I’d feel comfortable with monthly housing expenses of about $2,500. Do you have experience helping people find and buy a house within that price range?”
Get Pre Approved

3. Meet with the agent before you go on home tours.

Sending a request at 8pm on Wednesday evening for a home tour/showing the following Saturday morning is not showing motivation, just curiosity.

Have a realistic understanding of your wants and needs to present at your meeting. You need a true understanding of the things you’re willing to be flexible about, and those that are genuine deal-breakers. Force yourself to be flexible about things that are easy to change — an ugly shag rug isn’t a deal-breaker. Once your agent has this list, it’s much easier to get a sense of your likes and dislikes, and understand the things that truly matter to you.
Book a Meeting

4. Be honest and respectful.

Your agent asks questions for a reason, to better help you!  Answer their questions honestly. If you haven't thought about something before, let the agent guide you through the thought process.

Also, agents waste a lot of time showing properties that buyers don’t like. This isn’t a problem if it happens once or twice — that’s a natural part of the process. But great agents want immediate and detailed feedback so they can refine their search criteria or give you guidance if you have unrealistic expectations. If you aren't satisfied with the homes in your budget, you have two choices: Stop your search until you have enough money saved to get what you want or lower your expectations of what your money can buy. No agent can pull homes out of thin air.

5. Ask them what it takes to be a great client.

Everyone’s different, but it’s important to know what makes your agent tick. You’ll set yourself apart by asking a prospective agent a simple question at the very beginning: “What can I do to help you help me?” This sends the message that you’re motivated, and want to make sure they have everything they need to do their best possible work.
Since most of what an agent does for their clients happens when the client is not around, this will help the agent to trust you will not cause unnecessary headaches for them interfering with the important tasks they need to complete for your transaction.

Great agents don't chase for business. They provide expert advice, offer professional assistance and choose the clients they know are motivated and prepared.

If you are ready to be your best and work with the best, start by requesting a Buyer Questionnaire today!

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