Tag Archives: disclosures

3 Reasons Sellers Shouldn’t Fear Disclosures

There is no reason for sellers to stress about accurately and completely filling out disclosure statements.

buyers and sellers real estate disclosuresTo disclose or not to disclose — that is the question. Actually, that isn’t the question. There should be no question in a seller’s mind whether to disclose an item or not. The short answer: If you’re aware of an issue, disclose it.

But first let’s talk about what exactly a disclosure is, and why, as a seller, it can be your best friend. Continue reading

Five things to know about a home before committing to buy

Your due diligence inspections should include more than hiring a home inspector to look at the home and reviewing a current termite inspection. And your due diligence should start as soon as you have serious interest in a listing.

Making an offer to purchase a home consumes a lot of time and emotional energy. Before your real estate agent or attorney puts pen to paper, find out as much about the property as you can. In particular, you want to know if there’s any reason you shouldn’t try to buy the house.

Seller disclosure requirements vary from state to state, as does real estate practice and protocol. Find out if there are any seller disclosure statements and presale inspection reports. If there are, ask to see copies before you write an offer.
buy homeIn some areas, it is standard procedure for listing agents to provide a disclosure package that includes any existing reports and disclosures to interested buyers before they make an offer. In other areas, reports are made available only after the buyer and sellers have negotiated the purchase agreement. Get ahold of as much information as you can about the physical condition of the property as soon as possible.

After you review the seller’s documents on the property, you may discover that the home you find so appealing requires a far bigger investment in repair work than you can handle or afford financially. In this case, move on to the next property with no remorse. You’ve saved yourself from hassle and heartbreak.

On the other hand, if the reports and disclosures fall within your expectations, move on to investigating the local neighborhood. On closer look, you may discover that there are several large apartment buildings that back up to the house you’re interested in buying. This might create a noise factor. If you’re sensitive to noise, you might not be happy living in the property you’re considering.

Buyers sensitive to crime should check with the local police department to see if the neighborhood is being hit by waves of break-ins. Drive by the property several times during daylight and evening hours to see if the complexion of the neighborhood changes in any way that is disadvantageous to you.

Commuters should drive from the property to work and back during rush hour, and check into all the public transportation options that are available in close proximity. If you’re intent on buying within walking distance to shops and cafés, find out how long it takes to get from the house you think you want to the nearest commercial area.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: It’s wise to include an inspection contingency in your purchase offer so that you have a time period to complete whatever inspections of the property you deem necessary before committing to move forward with the purchase. This is recommended even if the seller has completed presale inspections.

Some buyers who have confidence in the seller’s home inspector hire that inspector to do a walk-through inspection with them so that the inspector can explain his report and answer any questions. The fee for this sort of inspection will usually be less than what the seller paid for the initial inspection and written report.

Don’t skip inspections to save money. It could cost you plenty in the long run if uninspected items turn out to be faulty and you have to pay to repair them.

Order a home inspection as soon as possible after your offer is accepted by the sellers. Most home inspections include recommendations for further inspections. If you don’t have the home inspection done early, you may not have enough time to complete all the further recommendations recommended, like roof or drainage inspections.

THE CLOSING: If you run out of time, ask the sellers for an extension.

Dian Hymer is a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience and is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

Five bright spots in the real estate recession

The real estate market meltdown was much more severe and has lasted much longer than even the most bearish housing market observer would ever have predicted. Rather than values taking a dip, they’ve taken a double dip in many places; and the housing sector drama has infected the job market and the entire world’s economy.

Yet, there are some very shiny silver linings to this whole mess — a handful of ways in which our mindsets, habits, behaviors and approaches to money, mortgage and even life decision-making — have been changed by this real estate market debacle. As I see it, here are the five best things about this housing recession:

1. People now buy for the long term

Even Jeff Lewis, that reality TV house flipper extraordinaire, has declared that he’s tapped out of the flipping business for the foreseeable future, trading in his real estate wheeling and dealing for the design business.

Recently, he mentioned having lost six homes in the real estate market crash.

While Lewis flipped homes as his business, just five years ago, many Americans — homeowners and investors alike — took a short-term view on their homes, buying them with the idea that they could count on refinancing, pulling cash out or even reselling them anytime they wanted, at a profit.
Reality check — those days are gone. Now, buyers know they’d better be prepared to stay put for somewhere between seven and 10 years (shorter in strong local markets, longer in foreclosure hot spots) before they buy if they want to break even. And this is causing them to take mortgages they can afford over time, and make smarter, longer-term choices about the homes they buy.

2. Dysfunctional properties are being weeded out and creatively reused

real estate market recessionMunicipalities like Detroit and Cleveland are demolishing blighted and decrepit properties in dead neighborhoods en masse, intentionally shrinking their cities to match their shrinking populations. These efforts are also eliminating breeding grounds for crime, and focusing resources on the neighborhoods that have a better chance of surviving and thriving in the long term.

In the so-called “slumburbias” of central California, Nevada and Arizona, McMansions are being repurposed into affordable housing for groups of seniors, artist communities and group homes.

3. American housing stock is getting an energy-efficient upgrade

The news would have you believe that every American has lost his or her home, walked away from it, or is now renting by choice. In fact, the vast majority of homeowners have simply decided to stay put.

Instead of selling and moving on up, homeowners are improving the homes they now plan to stay in for a long(er) haul. And this generation of remodeling is focused less on granite and stainless steel, and more on lowering the costs of “operating” the home and taking advantage of tax credits for installing energy-efficient doors, windows, water heaters and more. And while the first-time homebuyer tax credit is a thing of the past, the homeowner tax credits for energy-optimizing upgrades are in effect until the end of this year.

4. People are making more responsible mortgage decisions, and building financial good habits in the process

Buyers are buying far below the maximum purchase prices for which they are approved. They are reading their loan disclosures and documents before they sign them. And, thanks to the stingy mortgage market, they are spending months, even years, in the planning and preparation phases before they buy: paying down their debt; saving up for a down payment (and a cash cushion, so that a job loss wouldn’t be disastrous); being responsible and sparing in their use of credit to optimize their FICO scores; and creating strong financial habits in one fell swoop.

5. Our feelings about debt and equity have been reformed

Americans no longer use their homes like ATMs, to pull out cash, pay off their credit cards and then start the whole overspending cycle over again. Many can’t, because their homes are upside down and cannot be refinanced in any event — much less to pull cash out.

Others have been reality-checked by the recession, and are dealing with their non-mortgage debt the old fashioned way: by ceasing the pattern of spending more than they make, and applying the self-discipline it takes to pay their bills off.

Home equity, in general, is no longer viewed as an inexhaustible source of cash. Rather, we see it as a fluctuating asset to be protected and increased — not so much through the vagaries of the market, but through the hard work of paying the principal balance down. Many of those refinancing into today’s lower rates aren’t doing it to pull cash out, as was the norm at the top of the market; instead, they are refinancing into 15-year loans to pay their homes off sooner than planned, or reducing their required payment so their extra savings can be applied to principal.

Of course, it remains to be seen how lasting these changes will be if and when home prices go up and mortgage guidelines loosen up. But since neither of these things look likely to happen in the short term, hopefully there’s a chance that these behavior shifts will become part of a permanent mindset reset for American housing consumers.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com. ClientDirect.net.