Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Helpful Pointers for First Time Home Buyers
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Buying a home can be overwhelming. Sometimes you may feel like gathering paperwork and communicating
with your team is another full time job! Here are some tips to help make the process more stress-free.
1. Don't Make Large Purchases Before You Apply For Your Loan: This is a big one. Lenders look at your
credit score during the application process, and then again just before closing. Keep your credit profile clean. If you accumulate
a bunch of debt just before, or during the process, it can cause your loan to be denied. Don't make any large purchases before
your closing, either. Lenders will look at your score again just before closing, and it may cause issues.
2. Don't Worry About Whether It's The Right Time: Any time is the right time to buy a home. This time
of year, people shy away from buying because of the holiday season. Don't stress. You can't predict the housing market, and
you might miss out on a great opportunity.
3. Don't Focus Just On The Rate: There
are other costs involved with buying a home. Don't focus on the rate only. There are HOA fees, insurance, taxes, and closing
costs that need to be paid as well.
4. Hire A Home Inspector: Do NOT buy a home
without hiring a home inspector. This is NOT the area to be trying to save money. It will be the best $300-500 you spend.
A home inspector will give you the complete picture of the condition of the home, let you know what maintenance items to budget
for, and keep you from buying something you'll regret.
5. Hire A Real Estate Attorney:
Again, no skimping on this. Lawyers are important to the process (and I'm not just saying that because I am one). You'll
need someone to review title, deed and loan documents. You'll need an advocate for attorney review and home inspection items.
The $400-800 you spend on a lawyer is another great investment to ensure things are right at closing.
Scope Out the Neighborhood: Before you make a purchase, check out the neighborhood. How close is it to things you need
to get to? Do you need public transportation? Is it close to the grocery store? Your kids' school? Drive by the house at different
times of the day and evening. You may love a neighborhood during the day, but may hate it at night.
Relax: Home buying is stressful. But it's also supposed to be fun. Don't stress about the little things, and listen to the
people you've hired to help you - lender, Realtor, attorney, home inspector. We have done this thousands of times. We know
how things go. Take our advice.
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
How Should An Unmarried Couple Take Title?
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I have a lot of clients that purchase property together who are unmarried. They always ask me how
they should take title. There are two choices for this: Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship, or Tenancy in Common.
When a couple takes property in Tenancy in Common, each person would have a divisible interest in the property.
Typically this is a 50-50 split, but it does not have to be, and can be expressed in the deed as a different percentage split.
Regardless, if one person passes away, the interest of the deceased would go to him or her estate and be distributed accordingly.
If a judgment creditor wants to collect money from the deceased, the property can be sold to satisfy the debt, but only the
deceased's half would be subject to the collection. The survivor may be required to sell the home, but he or she would get
his or her portion of the proceeds from the sale.
In joint tenancy, there is not divisible
interest. The party owns the entire property together, and if one of the owners passes away, the survivor would have ownership
of the entire property without probate. If you are taking property in joint tenancy, please make sure that the phrase "with
rights of survivorship" are always added, as every state's requirements for this language differ.
Some lawyers will recommend joint tenancy for couples, while others recommend joint tenancy. I make my recommendation
on a case-by-case basis. If you do purchase property without being married, please consider a partnership agreement which
would define what would happen to your property should your relationship end. And if you do get married, change the title
of your deed to tenancy by the entirety to protect your assets against individual liability.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Save Money and Energy With These Simple Projects
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Do you have a heart attack every time you open your heating bill? There are a number of small things
you can do around your home to save money and energy.
1) Get a programmable thermostat.
These will lower the heat while you are sleeping or away from home. Ones like the Nest thermostat are even adjustable by an
app on your phone. In cold weather, a 5 degree setback can save up to 5% of your bill.
Lay new insulation, or additional insulation in your attic.
3) Fasten foam or fiberglass
panels to the walls of your crawlspace and cover with drywall.
4) Caulk exterior cracks
around windows, doors, pipes and vents.
5) Replace windows that are faulty or old.
6) Replace old storm doors.
7) Insulate in unheated attic or basement by
wrapping heating ducts with insulation.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Millennials Finally Starting To Buy Homes
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From HousingWire.com - edited for content
As Millennials get older,
they are increasing homeownership rates faster than in previous years, according to research from Fannie Mae.
Fewer Millennials are buying homes than previous generations,
true. However as they get older, they are making up for lost time; The rate of increase for Millennials is significantly
higher than the rate of increase for previous generations.
as the housing market continues to recover, more Millennials are moving into homeownership. Some oft-cited reasons for the
possible delays are commonly believed to be onerous student debt levels and
a preference to renting.
A study conducted
by Genworth Mortgage Insurance at the 2016 Mortgage Bankers Association Secondary Conference in New York City showed that, while Millennials
delayed homeownership longer than other generations, the industry expects that they are about to move into the housing market.
In fact, some are starting to realize that Millennials are the key to future growth in the industry. Credit
unions are growing, and Millennials are both a key driver and a target market for sustained loan growth, according to
a study by TransUnion.
There are, however,
several problems holding Millennials back as they begin to enter the market. There’s an extreme shortage of inventory
in the housing market. Hopefully this, too will soon resolve itself.
The most recent homebuilder confidence report recorded that homebuilders exhibited some optimism for the coming months.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Home Prices Post Best Growth in Two Years
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From Crain's Chicago:
Chicago-area home prices grew in May at the fastest pace in nearly two years,
according to a closely watched index.
region's single family home prices were up 3.7% in May from a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller
Indices. It was the largest year-over-year increase in Chicago prices since an increase of 4.2% in July 2014.
May's figure improved on the 3.1% growth reported for April,
which was the first time in several months that Chicago-area home prices had been up more than 2 percent year-over-year.
Even so, Chicago's home prices grew at a slower pace than the
nation's. Home prices were up 5 percent nationwide in May, the index showed.
In several cities - including San Diego, San Francisco, New York and Washington - home-price increases
have slowed, the report said.
as other cities slow has moved it up the list of the 20 cities in terms of home-price growth. Chicago was at the bottom of
the list in 2015 and most of 2016.
biggest home price increases were in West Coast cities Portland (12.5%) and Seattle (10.7%).
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Home Warranties Can Be Worth It - But Read The Fine Print
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From USA Today:
When Courtney St. Gemme-Chandler and her husband
bought an older home in Aurora, CO, in 2012, they assumed it would need some minor TLC. But their elation at the closing table
soon turned to frustration when the house started falling apart - and repair costs began piling up.
after they moved in, a pipe burst under the concrete in the basement. That was followed by a broken dishwasher, a non-functioning
electrical panel and faulty electrical wiring. Luckily, the couple's real estate agent had purchased them a home warranty
for a closing gift.
None of these problems had come up during the home inspection. The home
warranty, as it turned out, was a forutitous gift that saved them $2,000 on repair costs.
homeowner's insurance protects your home against unforeseen circumstances, a home warranty, which costs an average of $550
per year, is a convenience program that covers the normal wear and tear on the major mechanical and electrical systems in
a house, says Art Chartrand, counsel and administrator of the Nation Home Service Contract Association.
Your home's heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the water heater, sump pump and kitchen stove
are some of the items covered by a home warranty.
Home warranties are nothing new, but
more real estate agents have recommmended them in recent years as the housing market has been flooded with foreclosuresand
short sales - properties that were often neglected or poorly maintained.
home warranty is like an insurance policy that protects you after the home sale, but you have to pay close attention to what
is and what isn't covered," says Tony Martinez, a real estate agent with RE/MAX North San Antonio. "Do your homeowrk
and research companies online, and make sure you document all of your communications with the warranty company and the service
technicians they hire on your behalf."
Read the Fine Print
Consumers sometimes make the erroneous assumption that a home warranty covers the structural defects or insurable
incidents, normally included in homeowner's insurance coverage, such as damage from natural disasters, burglary or fires,
Chartrand says. Some also mistaknely believe that the policies function as emergency home service contract, meaning the problem
will be diagnosed and fixed within hours, which isn't the case.
When you file a claim,
your home warranty company chooses a local contractor that's been vetted and sends a worker out to diagnose your problem for
a set service fee, which you're responsible for paying. If the contractor doesn't find an issue or you can disagree with the
findings you can ask the warranty company to send a different contractor out to give a second opinion, Chartrand says.
Getting a claim approved comes down to understanding what your policy does and does not cover. Most home warranties
expire after a set time period and don't cover every little thing in your home - think leaky faucets or peeling paint. That
puts the onus on you to read your Contract and ask questions, says Katherine Hutt, national spokeswoman for the Better Business
You might opt for a certain level of coverage based on your home's size, condition
and age. Beware of scammers who might offer a half-price warranty, and then disappear when you try to file a claim, Chartrand
says. Consumers should be cautious of such offers and research home warranty providers before choosing one.
Negotiate Repairs in the Home Inspection
A home inspection
won't uncover every major problem, but it can lay the groundwork for getting the most from your home warranty. While Martinez
recommends home warranties for his buyers, he also advises them to negotiate major repairs during the home inspection and
ensure regular maintenance of their home's systems and appliances. Some home warranty companies, for example, won't cover
an air-conditioning unit that hasn't been serviced within a certain time frame; that's an item worth negotiating with the
Seller before closing.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Four Client Red Flags to Look For - Real Estate Agents
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Love this article courtesy of Terri Small at BMOHarris. This applies to attorneys too!
Title Law Seminar June 14 and 15
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I'm very excited to be speaking about the new TRID lender regulations at this seminar in downtown
Chicago in a few weeks. Fellow lawyers, if you need Continuing Ed credits, please join us!
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
What Happens to a Mortgage After a Bankruptcy Discharge?
Recently, I had a client ask me what happens to the mortgage on their current home when it is discharged
pursuant to a bankruptcy order. Contrary to what you might initially think, A debt that is secured, such as a mortgage, is
dischargeable BUT if you want to keep the house or other secured asset, you have to pay the debt as you normally would. A
discharge simply means that it eliminates the DEBT on the property, not the LIEN. So, if you were to stop making payments
on the debt that has been discharged on your home, the bank can repossess the property, but it cannot pursue you for the money
that is owed. As long as you remain current with the payments, you can stay in your home as you normally would.
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Friday, February 5, 2016
Spring is in Full Swing!
Attention home buyers on the fence: Spring is in full swing! The market has been incredibly busy because
of the mild winter we've been having. I have a lot of clients selling their homes and tons of first time home buyers taking
advantage of remarkably low rates. If you're on the fence, get pre-approved and get out there!
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