When we work together, the first thing that you'll notice is that I will actively try to talk you out of every house we discuss.
First, I'll do my best to point out things that might not be so obvious. Nearby train tracks, gun clubs, air strips, double-yellow lines (busy roads), highways, landfills, junkyards, etc. And if you ask my clients, they'll tell you that I'm VERY good at it!
Next, I'm NOT a home inspector, but I always bring two flashlights. One for each of us. We do a lot of looking in the basement, because that's where most of the bad stuff lives. Moisture, mold, knob & tube wiring, rusty electrical panels, decrepit plumbing, leaky fieldstone foundations, cedar post supports, insect damage, etc.
I will point out everything that I see - but you should still have a formal home inspection. My goal is simply to screen and rule properties out so you don't spend $400 on an inspection when you didn't need to.
Why do I work so hard to eliminate every home?
Easy. It's what I'd want someone to do for me.
When you're looking for real estate in this crazy market, it's just one foot in front of the other - and I'll walk you through the entire process. Think of me as your concierge.
1. Talk with a lender and get a pre-approval for a home loan. That will give us a price range for our search. No sense in looking at homes that you can't afford, right? I can suggest a few good local lenders if you like.
2. Decide on the essentials. Which towns will you consider? How many beds? Baths? How big or small? Any must-haves or deal-breakers?
3. Think about timing. Are you trying time your purchase to coincide with the end of your current lease - or the sale of your current home? Let's discuss and keep that in view.
4. Start the search! You can either search through this website or use my free mobile app or I'll do the searching for you! See one you like? Let's talk - and I really will try to talk you out of it. If I can't...
5. Let's visit! In-person - either at an open house (I'll go with you) or we just make an appointment. Again, I'll do my best to talk you out of it.
Pro-Tip - remember that the agent at an open house is required by law to represent the seller's best interests. Many buyers believe that the seller's agent will give them a better deal because they make double the commission. That's only half true. They make double the commission, but they still represent the seller, not you.
If I can't talk you out of it...
6. We write an offer. I'll need a copy of your pre-approval letter and a check for $500 - $1000 as a deposit to submit with the offer. I will advise you as to which contingencies are standard and which are deal breakers.
We do everything with e-signatures using DocuSign. You can sign right from your smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
I'll handle the negotiating of price and contract terms for you - and I'm good at it too.
7. Home Inspection. Once the offer is accepted, we get the home inspected by the MA licensed home inspector of your choice. Normally $400-ish. This isn't mandatory but is very strongly recommended. Based on the results, we may ask for some combination of repairs or price concessions. Either way, I have your back.
8. We sign the Purchase & Sale Agreement (P&S). This is the final purchase contract that both sides work out through their attorneys and normally is done within 10 days of the accepted offer. We usually make a second, much larger deposit at this time. (Both deposits count toward the purchase price of the home)
9. Underwriting. Your lender orders an appraisal and moves forward with processing your loan.
10. Loan Commitment / Clear to Close. The lender gives us the final thumbs up! Normally about 14 days before closing.
11. Final walk-through. As close to closing as possible, we walk through the home to ensure that everything is as it should be.
12. CLOSING! We sit at a conference room table and you will present a valid, NOT expired photo ID and start signing a big stack of papers. At the end of it all (60-90 minutes) the keys are yours and you move in.
Wasn't that easy?
PS - if you know anybody else who is looking for a new home, please pass my number along! 781-470-9111
If you're using an FHA, VA or USDA loan, the standards for property condition are very strict. They will fail appraisal for seemingly minor items like a little peeling paint, a cracked window, wobbly handrails, crumbly cement steps, etc. VA loans also requires a "Wood Destroying Insect" inspection.
Conventional and Mass Housing loans are less strict, but all major systems like plumbing, electrical, septic and heating must be functional. Otherwise, you'll need a construction loan, which adds expense and complication - but I can help you with it if that's the way you want to go.
Ideally - and I think of this as the real estate "unicorn" - the fixer-upper we're looking for is a home that needs updating, but not repair. These can still be had at a discount - 50 year old cabinets and appliances, shag carpets, lava lamps, Mod Squad posters and all. These will still pass appraisal, but can usually be had at a reasonable discount.
Buy it at a discount, move in today and update at your own pace. One 1963-era room at a time!
Bank-owned properties (sometimes called REO, for "real estate owned") in my opinion are less of a good deal than they used to be. For one thing, there is a LOT of competition from other buyers. There's an increased hassle factor and a general unwillingness to negotiate on terms and repairs. Some have utilities turned off, which can only be turned on at your expense for your inspection. Some don't even allow interior access at all.
It also turns out that in spite of the conventional wisdom, banks aren't interested in dumping properties at a deep discount, just to get rid of them. They actually want to get fair market value for them - and they have an obligation to their shareholders to do so.
You can buy a home this way, but don't expect it to be easy. Of course, I'll help if that's your cup of tea.
Think buying REO was hard? Wait until you see short sales!
A short sale means that the lender is allowing the owner to sell the property for less than is owed - the bank is coming up "short", hence the name. Often there is more than one lender too - a 2nd mortgage or home equity loan may still be outstanding.
More and more, short sale attorneys who orchestrate these deals are demanding "negotiating fees" of $5,000 in cash that is payable by the buyer at closing. I have seen some lately that are payable up front with the offer and are not refundable, whether or not the sale succeeds (!!!). That seems like a horrible idea.
Assuming you're made it this far, be prepared for a long wait. The last short sale I did took us 9 MONTHS. I've talked with other agents that have had them take 3 years.
Our closing date got pushed back 5 times shortly before closing and at the last minute, a 2nd mortgage holder popped up and demanded another $5,500 in cash, which was not allowed to be financed, or the 1st lien holder who was still coming up short would take it.
In this case, my buyers were going to rent out their current home after they bought the short sale, so the closing date wasn't an issue. The additional $5,500 wasn't a problem either - they had the cash and still thought it was a good deal.
Bottom line? If you like headaches, don't care about when the closing date is and can cough up extra cash on a whim, you'll LOVE short sales.
I hate them - but hey, it's your call!
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