Friday, May 17, 2013

Common Closing Costs for First Time Buyers

You’ll likely be responsible for a variety of fees and expenses that you and the seller will have to pay at the time of closing. Your REALTOR® and/or Lawyer conducting the closing will tell you the required amount for:

  • Down payment on the purchase price
  • Appraisal (some banks will include this if you deal with them)
  • Credit report (should be included from your lender)
  • Private mortgage insurance premium – depending on the amount of your down payment
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property tax even if being paid as part of the mortgage, you may have to reimburse the seller for a portion they have already paid – determined on your date of closing. Lenders keep funds for taxes accounts as they are paid with the mortgage, then pay taxes for you.
  • Title registration costs are included in your lawyers conveyance fees
  • Legal fees 
  • Survey Certificate if the seller does not have one to pass on
  • Title Insurance is an alternative to a Survey Certificate 
  • Proration's for your share of costs, such as property taxes
  • Property Transfer Tax (as a first time buyer you may be exempt – confirm if you qualify
  • Utility Deposits (if you are new to the Utility company your deposit may be substantially more than just a transfer fee)
  • Home inspection  - cost varies depending on size and age of home

I haven’t gone into the detail of all of these items – Your REALTOR®  or Lawyer will confirm these costs and determine if you qualify for exemptions or discounts.  It’s important you have a discussion on all these items so you are properly prepared.

Reviewing home maintenance expectations is also a great conversation to have.  Never having owned a home before you may not be expecting the  ongoing costs for changing your filters, lights, yard maintenance, or garbage removal.  If you are purchasing a new home – you might need to buy window covers, yard maintenance equipment like hoses, lawn mower, rakes.  Small appliances are not usually included in your purchase – you might need a microwave, coffee pot, fire extinguisher, garage door remote.

Not to overwhelm – just wanting you to put complete thought into your process so you can enjoy the end result and not be caught short of funds or have unrealistic expectations. 
At the end of it all – nothing gives you a greater sense of community, accomplishment and pride then settling into you first home.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Blog - Taking the LEAP!

Taking the LEAP!

Guest Blog Post by Ashley Houseman

There’s nothing more exciting than researching homes on the internet, sifting through hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos of homes listed for sale until you narrow down the possibilities and compile your list of those you’d like to see in person. In most cases, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.

On numerous occasions, I've had the pleasure of walking through homes with First Time Home Buyers to discover some of the most outrageous and interesting features a house could possibly possess. Some in which you wish the REALTOR® would have posted pictures of, so you could have ruled it out as a possibility and saved yourself the gas and your precious time to see it.

Epic Fail!

Homes with holes in the floor (we could see the dirt fill below), bathrooms with the door against the toilet, homes that were previous crime scenes (which I found out later via “Googling” the address), an ENTIRE home that was a dedicated shrine of Dale Earnhardt Jr (I’m a fan, just not an entire house of it) and my personal favorite:  a bidet in the middle of a bedroom, yes, a bedroom.

It’s tough to see yourself in a home when either photos don’t do a good home justice or when a potential home is washed out by clutter or issues that are hard to look past. Here’s a few tips to help you to weed out the bad ones from the diamonds in the rough:

Do Your Homework:

  • Go online:  Did you know that most REALTORS® can send you listings via email to check out from the web from the comfort of your couch? Use their services to check out homes! Their MLS® will be your most up-to-date source for what’s available on the market. Also check out and their app as well.  Or
  • Do the Drive-by:  If it’s a good possibility, drive by the home and see if you like the location. This will help you to weed out more homes than you think.

Look Past the Surface:

  • Good Bones:  If shag carpet and gaudy wallpaper isn’t your thing, don’t sweat it. Those are cheap fixes to a home that may have great bones. Look past the things that are easily replaceable and look at the layout of the home, as adding an addition is way more expensive than that gorgeous granite you’ve been dreaming of.
  • Don’t Fall for the Bells & Whistles: Quite opposite of the last tip. A home may have some sweet upgrades like solid counter tops and stainless appliances, but you aren’t too crazy about the layout. Just remember, you can always customize the home down the road but living in a home with an awkward layout can eventually get annoying. It’s more expensive to do a total renovation (knocking down walls, permits, etc) than it is to buy an entire stainless kitchen on a Memorial Day sale.

Think About the Future:

  • Resale, Resale, Resale:  That small bedroom that is a decent “office” now may not be a considered good-sized bedroom for a buyer down the road when you’re trying to sell, as this personally cost us 10+ buyers when selling our home!  Don’t compromise on things that you think may hinder your chances of selling the home in the future.
  • Replacement Costs:  Buying a home is an investment, especially if you have to replace a ton of stuff inside. Take a closer look at things like the roof, air conditioning unit, pool pump, and other high ticket items that could be in need of replacing. It’s good to budget replacement costs into your yearly budget, but you don’t want to take on a home that needs everything replaced all at once.

A Home Fit for a Family:

  • Busy Streets:  If you have or plan on having kids, that’s great, just make sure the house accommodates them! Any parent of a toddler will tell you that living on a busy street is one of the scariest things in the world as you watch cars fly by your driveway. Consider an area that has less traffic and will be safer for the little ones.
  • A Tub:  As silly as it sounds, you will want a tub in the guest bathroom. Unless you want your sweet munchkins taking over your master every night until they can bathe themselves, save yourself the insanity and make sure there’s a tub in the guest bathroom for the little ones.

These are just a few things to think about when you’re looking to buy a home for the first time. When in doubt about certain things, always consult a real estate professional, as they are your best source of information in the home buying process.

No matter what your first time home buying adventure is like, just remember, you could always have a bidet in the middle of your bedroom.

Ashley Houseman( YES! Her last name has HOUSE in it) is an Associate Broker/REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Morris Realty. in Punta Gorda, Florida. You can follow her on Twitter at @BrokerEXCLUSIVE or visit her blog

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

8 tips for finding your first HOME!

The following post comes from Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty, Inc. agent, Kim Knapp. Kim is an experienced agent in Northern Florida and has a great team who has worked with countless first-time home buyers.  What is interesting for me  - is that even though the price points, market, product and geography of the Buyers are different to our – their needs and process is the same.

Here are her 8 tips to help make finding that first home go as smoothly as possible:

  1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing. “Our local Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty REALTOR® can help you determine what areas will present you with the amenities you would like to fit your life style choices”
  2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
  3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender or Mortgage Broker (Brenda Dilley and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford. A good Realtor can help you go over the expected closing costs, whether or not you qualify for an exemption from the Property Transfer Tax and how the statement of adjustment from the lawyer at completion will reflect those costs to you.
  4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own. You will be the one that will be ultimately living in the home and paying the mortgage payment.
  5. Decide your moving timeline.When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.  “School start dates, right down to the available of friends or family that may help with the physical move.”
  6. Think long term.Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.
  7. Insist on a home inspection.If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year. “In some markets that is uncommon but certainly obtaining a professional home inspection from a QUALIFIED inspector is most important – we have contact info and credentials from several in our Kelowna area”
  8. Get help from a REALTOR®.Hire a real estate professional who specializes in buyer representation.  “You can secure your agency contract with them by completing and Exclusive Buyers Agency agreement. Our Realtors will explain clearly what their fiduciary duties are to you as their client, how they are compensated through the transaction and any other details you need clarity on.

REALTORS® are a huge wealth of knowledge and can help you through every step of this exciting – but sometimes scary process.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First Time Home Buyers Week...Coldwell Banker

There seems to be a week for everything these days, but very few of them prove to be valuable for more than just a week. So Coldwell Banker® With 30% of home buyers in 2013 being first time home buyers, they are dedicating an entire week of content on the Coldwell Banker Blue Matter blog, Twitter and Facebook pages to sharing tips, explaining terminology, and guiding first time home buyers through the real estate process.  We will also post this info to our Facebook page as it filters through to us.

The Coldwell Banker network of agents and brokers across the globe share insights as well as real life experiences from first time buyers who are currently going through the home buying process for the first time. In my Blog of September 8, 2011  “Out of the Mouths of Babes” I review some of these topics from the perspective of my daughter – who just bought her first house.  Even though inventory and markets change, the basics haven’t changed much at all –Here’s just a quick sample of some of the content I’ll be unveiling as it comes through:

8 Tips for Finding Your First Home
Confessions of a First Time Home Buyer – Taking the Leap
Common Closing Costs for Buyers
Real Estate 101: What does it mean to be pre-approved?
Real Estate 101: The Importance of Interest Rates
9 Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

As an aside to the First Time Home Buyer Week – there have been reports generated from surveys that show a very interesting trend in young couples entering the real estate market.

When headlines address the home buying market, it’s typically done from a dollars-and-cents perspective. But, buying a home is so much more than a business transaction as we are seeing a shift in the real estate culture that is being led by millennial couples who are purchasing a home before marriage. Buying a home is one of the most emotionally impact-ful experiences a person can have, especially if it’s a mutual experience shared with one’s husband or wife (to be).

Coldwell Banker Real Estate partnered with market research firm Harris Interactive to learn more about the emotions married adults exhibit during the home buying process. As it turns out, the survey findings revealed that 1 in 4 young couples are buying a home together before tying the knot. The results also discovered that nearly all (92 percent) of married individuals who purchased their first home with their current spouse after being married view it as a positive milestone in their relationship and life together. From a psychological vantage point, these statistics make complete sense.

Purchasing a home is a very exciting and special time in a couple’s life. and USA Today, have been seen to say buying a home together has become “the new engagement ring” for some young couples. The home buying process forces couples to deal with their competing feelings of money and how to spend it, and that is why successfully purchasing a home with someone else is deemed a significant accomplishment in any relationship. It means the couple has been able to overcome their differences in an effort to create a better future together.