Recent Real Estate News
Paper Trail: The 19 Documents Required to Buy (or Sell) a Home Filed under: MyNextMove Filed under: Celebrity Homes Filed under: Economy Filed under: Home Equity Filed under: Buying
By Meaghan Agnew
Before you sign a single page at the closing table, you'll need to have these documents and forms at the ready.
Real estate paperwork can be overwhelming. Simply put, buying or selling a home buries you in printed materials. Some of them are obvious (W2s, bank statements), and some of them are surprising (what's a termite letter anyway?). The key is to start collecting them now - before the time crunch begins.
Below are 19 must-have documents that both buyers and sellers will need in hand during the purchase process on that home for sale in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Note: These are just the most commonly needed documents. Some states require specific certification letters like confirmation of hurricane-grade windows, and in some situations, such as when you're selling to a buyer who's getting a VA loan, you may have to provide additional certifications to secure loan approval. Always, always talk to your real estate agent about the unknowns.
W2s and 1099s
This one is obvious, but you'll want hard-copy proof of your earnings for the previous two tax years. When in doubt, just scan your whole tax return; some mortgage lenders prefer to have your entire return anyway.
Most of the time, your last two pay stubs will suffice, but some banks might ask for up to two years' worth of payment records. If you receive payments via direct deposit, printable versions of your paycheck might take some legwork to track down, so it's best to get on top of this one early.
Are you getting an early inheritance from your parents to help cover your down payment? They'll need to write a gift letter making clear that the money is indeed a gift and not a loan. The letter should be addressed to the mortgage company and include, among other elements, the dollar amount, the address of the property you hope to purchase, and the date the funds were transferred.
Proof of any debts
Credit card statements, student loan statements, car loan statements, child support agreements ... you need records of them all. Honesty is key here; "forgetting" to include debts can put your loan approval and closing in jeopardy.
As a buyer, you'll need to offer bank statements as part of your lender's due diligence procedures. They'll look to confirm that your money is "seasoned" (essentially confirming that any financial transfers were completed legally) as a requirement of the USA Patriot Act.
Records of additional assets
This one is less traumatizing. You'll need to gather proof of any other assets, such as mutual fund statements and documents relating to any other real estate or property you own.
Copy of your driver's license
You'll actually need this twice: once during the initial mortgage application process and once at closing. The seller also needs to bring a copy to the closing.
Copy of preapproval letter
Once you start shopping around for a piece of real estate, you'll want to prove your buying power. The preapproval letter details your loan type and amount you've been approved for, plus your interest rate. It's like carrying around your buying résumé.
Purchase & sale (P&S) agreement
The P&S is a legally binding contract, not merely a pinkie-swear promise. As such, you should have your real estate attorney carefully review its terms before you sign it, then be sure to keep it handy as you begin the next stage of the buying process.
It's not unusual to tack on some hard-copy changes to the original P&S, most often involving either the purchase price or the repairs that the seller has agreed to make to the property.
Proof of insurance
At closing, some lenders require proof of home insurance from the buyer, including hazard or flood insurance. Even after you secure the insurance itself, you'll likely need printed copies of the policies.
Two common examples? A termite letter (proof of a clean inspection) and a locate or decommission letter confirming the details of any buried oil tanks on the property. In either case, the responsibility to perform these inspections and provide the resulting certification letters is negotiable. Regardless of who pays, however, lenders frequently to require proof that necessary remediation or containment steps have been made before a sale will close.
Proof of payoffs
Owe money to a plumber, contractor, or another bank for your home equity loan? At closing, a seller will need documentation proving that all debts have been settled.
Lead paint letter
Was your home built before 1978? Then federal law requires you to disclose any lead paint hazards in the dwelling and to give any existing reports to a potential buyer.
Home warranties aren't required during all transactions, but sometimes a buyer will request that the seller provide a policy with a one-year guarantee that ensures the efficacy of the home's systems and appliances. (Good deal for the new buyer!)
Unloading a condo? At some point during the selling process, potential buyers will most likely want to peruse the rules of the condo association; if they're savvy, they might also want to read the minutes of recent association meetings.
Property lines are often surprising; even if you've lived in a home for eons, you might be shocked to discover that a sliver of your driveway doesn't technically belong to you. Before selling your place, you'll want to pull up the survey document to assure the buyer that the presumed land is theirs. Lenders may also require that the buyer have a new survey done before the sale can close.
Property tax receipts
Here's another one that can easily slip through the cracks, but as a seller, you'll also need receipts for any property taxes paid in the last couple of weeks. This is a potential point of concern for some home sales, as sometimes the full property tax payments have not been made for the year by the time of the sale - leaving the buyer and seller to negotiate the details of the remaining payments. Currently owed condo or HOA fees are also frequently negotiated in the same way.
Power of attorney
It's rare that a seller will physically show up at a closing, in which case they need printed proof they've turned all negotiating powers over to that attorney in the suit.A Farm of Miranda Lambert's Own Near Nashville
By Natalie Wise
Country music superstar Miranda Lambert has found a sweet new place outside Nashville to contemplate whether she'll become the Academy of Country Music's "Entertainer of the Year" this spring.
She and ex Blake Shelton were named "Most Desirable Celebrity Neighbors" by a Zillow survey in 2013, but Lambert's only neighbor is nature on this 400-acre spread she landed for $3.4 million.
A recent photo of the farm on Lambert's Instagram page indicates she's doing more strumming than "Smokin' and Drinkin'" at her new Tennessee digs, which has lots of room for friends in its 3-bedroom main home plus two cabins.
The main house is cozy-country-luxury at its best - the perfect place for Lambert to snuggle up to her new love interest, R&B singer Anderson East. A massive stone fireplace dominates the living room, and soaring rustic wood ceilings and fireplaces grace nearly every room.
The animal-loving Lambert, who often posts photos of rescued pets from her no-kill shelter in Oklahoma, Redemption Ranch, has plenty of room for critters on this Tennessee acreage. There's a 2-stall horse barn and plenty of storage, plus a 6-car garage for horsepower of a different sort. The garage is topped by another studio-style apartment - presumably for a caretaker.
A large lake provides water recreation right in the backyard, complete with a boat dock and canoe storage.
Lambert won't even have to go into the big city to give a concert. An open-air pavilion on the grounds seats 60, and has a stage perfect for a private show - perhaps "The House That Built Me" and a little "Kerosene."
Mortgage Rate Falls to 3.43%
By Lauren Braun
Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages fell this week, with the current rate borrowers were quoted on Zillow at 3.43 percent, down 7 basis points from last week.
The 30-year fixed mortgage rate hovered around 3.47 percent for most of the week before falling to the current rate.
"Mortgage rates fell last week to their lowest levels since May 2013 due to continuing financial market turmoil, concern about oil prices and shifting central bank policies overseas," said Erin Lantz, vice president of mortgages at Zillow. "Financial market developments should continue to dominate headlines this week, as well as expected congressional testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Rates could move lower if her comments are more dovish than expected."
Additionally, the 15-year fixed mortgage rate was 2.66 percent, and for 5/1 ARMs, the rate was 2.59 percent.
Check Zillow for mortgage rate trends and up-to-the-minute mortgage rates for your state, or use the mortgage calculator to calculate monthly payments at the current rates.What's My Home Worth? 9 Factors That Affect Resale Value
By Meaghan Agnew
Here's why your neighbor's house could be worth a lot more than yours.
We've all done it: You want to score tickets to a concert, but you don't want to pay face value, or worse, overpay. So you monitor the tickets' price online, watch prices ebb and flow, and then pounce once they've hit rock bottom.
Now apply this thinking to your home. Just like ticket prices, home values can vary wildly over time - peaking during a seller's market and hitting rock bottom during years like 2008. A smart home seller will monitor their home's value over the years so they know the general price range for their home (Trulia's home value tool is a great way to keep tabs).
But if you want to do some renovations to increase the value of your home for sale in Houston, TX, or are just wondering why the value isn't increasing much over time, you need to understand what other factors influence a home's value. Here are nine variables that might be stalling your resale value.
Location, location ... you know the rest
Proximity to a busy highway, proximity to a large vacant lot, proximity to not very much at all ... poor home placement almost always guarantees a stagnation of value. This is why two identical homes in the same neighborhood can have wildly different listing numbers if one is on a cul-de-sac and the other backs up to a four-way road. Conversely, if you've sat on a property that has seen infrastructure spring up all around it in recent years, you're likely to witness a pleasant jump in perceived market value, especially if the specs of your home appeal to younger professionals looking for walkability.
Stuck in that difficult in-between age
Character-filled old properties are always in demand (ah, historic charm), as are new-construction homes (zero renovations needed). But a house that is 30 or 40 years old holds a lot less sway over discerning shoppers, especially if its layout is odd or dated.
Does your kitchen celebrate the early 2000s trends, with dark wood cabinets and wall-to-wall carpet? Is your master bath a paean to the wonders of glass-brick walls and sponge paint? Renovations that were in vogue when you bought your home might now cause a buyer to come in and turn up their nose.
This is not to say, however, that a major renovation is the best way to increase your net return. "In this market, I almost always advise sellers to improve their property rather than fully renovate and then price accordingly," says real estate agent Nicholas Palance. "Fresh paint and flowers spruce up the place for pennies on the dollar."
Renovations that suit your tastes only
Maybe you put in your dream kitchen a few years ago, indulging your penchant for frosted glass cabinets and an avocado-green refrigerator. The problem in executing your singular vision? You risk finding out no one else shares your taste. "Most buyers want to put their own stamp on their new home rather than pay a premium for your renovation," says Palance. If buyers can't see past your personal sense of style, your home could sit on the market for months - or worse.
Was your home once flooded during a storm and suffered mold as a result? Was your street or neighborhood once associated with high crime rates, even if that information is now outdated? Did a fire ever occur on or near the property? Did a crime ever occur? It is near impossible to scrub the public record of your home's history; if your house has a storied history, then savvy potential buyers will know about it - and they may not be eager to inherit that mojo.
Too small ... or too big
One of the first stats potential buyers look for on a real estate site is the square footage. Most buyers are looking to upgrade, so your 500-square-footer might have limited appeal. Conversely, the bloom has fallen off the McMansion rose. The recession of 2008 taught us that oversized properties are not always an asset, and that a large house can become a burden if the market isn't strong enough to support it. Many buyers now are more pragmatic about how much space they really need to be comfortable.
Bedroom or bathroom shortages
The second set of stats scrutinized by buyers? Bed and bath counts. There's no buyer out there who doesn't dream of having a separate guest bedroom or getting a whole bathroom to themselves. Even the most coveted address won't be helped by having only one bathroom or a low bedroom tally.
Out of step with neighboring houses
Is yours a single-family in a sea of townhomes? Is your condo in a modern building surrounded by historic structures? If your place lacks area comps, a bank is going to have a hard time properly assessing its resale possibilities and is likely going to underestimate your home's worth come appraisal time. And that unfair assessment could give your buyer a reason to try to negotiate down the sale price.
No "wow" factor
"Some buildings have an intangible 'it' factor," says Palance. It could be rare architectural finishes, proximity to a renowned landmark, or the fact that celebrities are known to live nearby. But if there's nothing that really distinguishes your home - if there's no "hook" to help make it stand out - it's sometimes difficult to attract attention, especially during the busy spring market. Even if you take your property off the market for a reset, its listing history remains on the record and might drag down future pricing.7 Things Buyers Love That Sellers Fail to Mention
By Tara-Nicholle Nelson
Here are easy-to-overlook selling points that entice buyers, and that sellers should highlight.
Sure, it's easy to market homes for sale in Charleston, SC, that sit on several lush acres, feature gorgeous European appliances, and are located in the most prestigious neighborhood in town (ZIP code envy, anyone?). But it's slightly more intimidating trying to make an average house in a middle-range neighborhood stand out from other real estate listings.
However, there could very well be things you take for granted that a first-time buyer might be drawn to - as long as you mention them in the house listing. Here are seven things buyers love and sellers fail to mention in house listings.
After living in a home for a number of years and likely outgrowing it (that's why you're moving, right?), it can be hard to market storage space if it's something you see as a flaw. Just remember: Showcasing your home in the best light is not just about what you love about it.
First-time buyers are not simply comparing your home with other homes, they also are comparing it with the renter lifestyle and every bad rental property that inspired them to make the leap to being a homeowner. A common complaint from renters is that apartments lack storage, which can lead to a frustrating, cluttered life. The vision of having a place for storing everything is a big motivator for many first-time homebuyers. So if your home is tricked out with walk-in closets, pantries, or other built-in storage amenities that you plan to leave for the new owner, make sure your agent boasts about that in your home's marketing materials.
In the same vein, if you've invested in upgrading your home with built-in closets, kitchen or garage renovations, or customized desks or bookshelves, make sure buyers know. All upgrades should be on your home's online listing. From the first-timer craving a clutter-free existence to buyers who are moving up into a family home and want each family member's space to have at least the possibility of order, built-in organizers can represent value and appeal to a wide range of prospective buyers.
You might be thinking the right buyers for your home will find it online because of where it's located. Why bother calling out the property's proximity to amenities and attractions?
Some buyers simply might not know to search for your ZIP code if it's just outside the one they're actively searching in. Or they might not be aware that your hidden gem of a neighborhood also happens to be tucked within a half-mile of a train station, entrances to three freeways, and two regional parks. Or buyers' proximity wishes might be different from the location requirements of their search. They might be looking at all homes in your town that meet their price range, but the fact that yours is within walking distance to a major employer or university could push you to the top of the list. And relocating buyers might not have the core knowledge of the area to even begin to know what is around your neighborhood.
Never assume! If your home is well-located in a desirable neighborhood, vis-à-vis major employers, universities, recreational facilities, or walkable shopping and dining districts, talk with your agent to make sure you're highlighting those amenities.
Boomers are not necessarily looking for homes with built-in disability features, but homes that allow "aging in place" and somewhere they could live comfortably for retirement and beyond. This means homes with level-in entrances (no steps to the front door), single-story layouts, and low-maintenance landscaping have a massive new audience. These features might otherwise not warrant a mention in a home's marketing, but they should - especially if homes near yours tend to have loads of stairs or other features that are difficult for people to navigate as they age.
Similarly, the movement toward aging in place has seen many more families moving older relatives in with them versus moving them out to retirement homes. These extended families often are looking for homes with a well-appointed "mother-in-law" or "outlaw" unit, or a second master suite located on the home's ground floor. Don't overlook marketing your home's multiple bedrooms with bathrooms en suite or completely independent living quarters.
5. Energy efficiency
Chances are, you won't forget to mention if your home runs entirely off the grid or implements gray-water reuse and rainwater harvesting. But even buyers who aren't hunting for a "green" home can be attracted to the budget-friendliness of energy-efficient features. So if your home is a pretty no-frills property but has a tankless water heater, dual-paned windows, and new insulation, mention it! If you've managed to get your energy bills down way below what's normal in your area, this could be a selling point you don't want to overlook.
6. Eco-friendly features
If you've configured your home to encourage greener living - beyond lower energy bills - that could warrant a mention in your marketing. You might think things like your little organic kitchen garden, backyard compost bin, or that $50 recycling center you installed are so low in cash value that they don't warrant a line in your house listing materials. But loads of buyers are attracted to these sorts of features, so why not call them out?
7. Natural, chemical-free, and hypoallergenic home maintenance
In a similar vein, if you have a hypoallergenic HVAC system or have used only nonchemical cleaning products for the last few years, you might want to mention these things as well. Marketers say today's consumers are careful about not just what they put into their bodies, but also what they put on and around their bodies. If you've taken care to create a home that works well for people with physical or philosophical sensitivities to common household chemicals, make sure prospective buyers know that your house won't make them sick!
Filed under: MyNextMove
Filed under: Celebrity Homes
Filed under: Economy
Filed under: Home Equity
Filed under: Buying