5 Inspection Problems Buyers Shouldn’t Ignore

I enjoy posting my own artciles and sharing others.  This one from the Real Estate Daily News is very share-worthy – enjoy – Sabrina

5 Inspection Problems Buyers Shouldn’t Ignore

Home buyers need to be extra vigilant about inspections in the early stages of a purchase because if problems are discovered too late in the process, it can “dash home owners’ dreams and budgets,” writes Yahoo! Finance in a recent article.

One home buyer in Long Island, N.Y., explains in the story that she didn’t discover the fixer-upper she bought needed $225,000 in repairs until after she purchased it.

Jonathan and Drew Scott, who educate viewers about transforming fixer-uppers on HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” offers up a checklist of five things buyers should look for to ensure they don’t buy a lemon.

  • Mold: Buyers should note any musty smells in the home and be on the lookout for any mold. Mold can be caused by improper air circulation as well as water leaks.
  • Pests: Termite damage can be widespread and costly to repair.
  • Outdated fixtures and wiring: Electrical problems in a home can cause fire hazards. Buyers should take note of any indication of faulty wiring, such as cable coming out of drywall.
  • Poor DIY jobs: Buyers should make sure that the previous home owner’s do-it-yourself projects were done correctly and are up to code. For example, poorly done flooring and painted-over wallpaper can be time-consuming and costly to fix.
  • Drainage problems: Sloping sod can cause flooding problems in a backyard, and a slow-draining sink could be an indication of a bigger problem. Buyers should test sinks and flush toilets to test for any potential problems.

Source: “Property Brothers: Don’t Buy a House Without Checking These 5 Things,” Yahoo! Finance (Aug. 19, 2013)

I read this article at:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2013/08/22/5-inspection-problems-buyers-shouldn-t-ignore?om_rid=AACmlZ&om_mid=_BSFlH2B80sQKxz&om_ntype=RMODaily

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Foreclosure

Great news for those who experienced hardships during the economic downturn!

FHA Trims Waiting Period for Borrowers Who Experienced Foreclosure

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is allowing borrowers who went through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, or short sale to reenter the market in as little as 12 months, according to a mortgage letter released Friday.

Borrowers who experienced a foreclosure must wait at least three years before getting a chance to get approved for an FHA loan, but with the new guideline, certain borrowers who lost their home as a result of an economic hardship may be considered even earlier.

For borrowers who went through a recession-related financial event, FHA stated it realizes “their credit histories may not fully reflect their true ability or propensity to repay a mortgage.”

In order to be eligible for the more lenient approval process, provided documents must show “certain credit impairments” were from loss of employment or loss of income that was beyond the borrower’s control. The lender also needs to verify the income loss was at least 20 percent for a period lasting for at least six months.

Additionally, borrowers must demonstrate they have fully recovered from the event that caused the hardship and complete housing counseling.

According to the letter, recovery from an economic event involves reestablishing “satisfactory credit” for at least 12 months. Criteria for satisfactory credit include 12 months of good payment history on payments such as a mortgage, rent, or credit account.

The new guidance is for case numbers assigned on or after August 15, 2013, and is effective through September 30, 2016.

I read this article at: http://www.dsnews.com/articles/fha-trims-waiting-period-for-borrows-who-experienced-foreclosure-2013-08-19

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

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LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story… Lisa and All Those Offers….

The inspiration for this section of our blog – Cinderella Story – was inspired by Lisa and her long journey to home ownership.

Enjoy – Sabrina

Let’s take a look back to 2010 when Russ and Natalie referred their neighbor and dear friend Lisa to us.  Lisa was looking to buy her first home.  We got her pre-approved with Melanie Flynn at First Priority Mortgage and she qualified for the FHA loan.  With her pre-approval letter in hand the hunt began.  And what a hunt it was.

2010 was a tough year…the real estate market had been in a slump…the world knew the real estate market had crashed.  Many buyers were hesitant to buy, fearing the prospect of over paying while the market was still going down.  Locally however, by 2010, we had already hit bottom in many areas of the SF Peninsula the year before and we were now seeing the market slowly starting to recover.  Multiple offers and bidding wars were starting up again.  But unless you were in the trenches as a Realtor or buyer/seller…you wouldn’t know because the media was intent on focusing on the national real estate market which was still struggling.

At the time, the market was heavy on short sale properties, and with the banks so overwhelmed, the process of trying to buy some short sale houses outweighed the joy of owning the house.  Nonetheless,  we wrote offers on choice short sales for Lisa.  I swear, we’re still waiting to hear back on some of them.  There were also some regular sales, but if the home was in nice shape, you could guarantee multiple offers and a bidding war within the week.  The rest of the homes on the market were in pretty bad shape.  Yes the hunt continued.  We looked at many homes in various areas.  My favorite quality of Lisa was her imagination.  She could look at the dumpiest house and see it’s potential.  There were a few times Susan & I steered her away from homes with too many projects.  We truly wanted her to buy a home she could afford, that would need only cosmetic work – not structural headaches.

Lisa had an open mind.  Each home we checked out she seriously considered.  She wrote great offers, including letters to the sellers with a cute photo of her and her furry baby.  She listened to our suggestions and advice.  However, with each offer we would discover the seller accepted an all cash offer….sometimes for less than Lisa’s offer.  We kept checking out homes and writing offers till she could practically explain the purchase contract to us.  In light of constantly being outbid, Lisa wasn’t discouraged.  Well maybe a little, but she would dust herself off and keep on going.  We hunted for more than 6 months…but in retrospect we could have easily looked for a year.

Then one day while Susan & I were touring listings, we drove by a home we hadn’t seen yet.  On my trusty smart phone I looked it up and found out it was a bank owned home that had just fallen out of contract.  It was currently priced higher than we could go, it was an older home, in a beautiful west side location – and well just sitting there.  I quickly did some research.  The home had never had an open house, was never on broker tour and had just fallen out of contract – I called the Listing Agent.  Being that it was already bank owned and had fallen out of contract, I explained our situation to the listing agent and that afternoon we wrote an offer.  Within the week we heard the good news, the bank accepted our price (under list price) and we were on our way to closing an escrow.  After our inspections came up with no surprises, you could tell Lisa was slowly getting excited.  Finally, after writing nearly 20 offers and being outbid and beat up over and over again – 3o days later we popped the bubbly and handed Lisa the keys to her new home.

The moral of this Cinderella Story – sometimes you gotta kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince charming.

Congrats on hitting the 2 year anniversary in your home Lisa.  We truly enjoyed working with you and turning your home ownership dream into a reality.

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-cityå

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

How to Write a Great Offer on Bank Owned Homes (post foreclosure)

Point Blank – Writing a good offer is writing a good offer.  Price is most important, then close of escrow, contingency terms and then buyer qualifications.  Just about in that order.  So when a buyer is faced with writing an offer on a Bank Owned home – it is just about as easy as writing an offer on a home where the buyer is working directly with the seller.

The Caton Team Realtors, will provide the buyer with comparable market information – homes of similar condition and size – and what they are selling for.  Armed with this info, the buyer can decide a fair market price to offer.  Since the home is bank owned – the bank is very aware of the homes market value and has elected to sell the property in the open market instead of an auction – most likely because the bank will get more money in a normal sale versus an auction.  So our advise to a buyer – be realistic in your offer price.  Too low and the bank will move on, there can be some back and forth counter offers – but generally it is cut and dry or the bank will hold onto an offer till a better one comes along.  (At least that is how it feels to the waiting buyer.)

Next are the terms.  A bank owned home can move MUCH faster than a short sale.  A buyer will want to keep their property and loan contingencies tight – 10 – 17 days and generally a 30 days close of escrow is acceptable – if not shorter since the home is already vacant.

The downside bank owned homes – no disclosures except for the CA State Mandatory Disclosures – but those pertain more to the area than the actually home.  Why?  The bank has NEVER lived in the home and cannot disclose if there are neighborhood nuisances, or if the downstairs bathroom floods every years.  So it is more buyer beware – however – once a buyers offer is accepted, they will have their contingency time frames (stated in the offer) to conduct any and all inspections they want and to make sure the home appraisals for their loan.

Sounds like any offer right?  Right.  Bank Owned homes are like normal sellers.  The turn around time for an offer response in a couple of days – a week max.  Meaning, when the buyer get’s the offer accepted phone call – the clock starts ticking for contingencies and in 30 days I hand them the keys 🙂

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at:

Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Visit our website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp me at: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:  http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

What does Bank Owned or REO property mean?

A REO stands for Real Estate Owned which really means the home is Bank Owned.  A Bank Owned home is a home post-foreclosure.  Meaning the bank has already foreclosed on the seller and now the bank owns the home.

The Pro’s

Buying a bank owned home is as close to a normal sale as a buyer can get when working with distressed properties.  The pro – quick response time.  When submitting an offer on a bank owned property the buyer can expect to get a response within a week – and once the offer is accepted the escrow period is like any normal transaction.  A buyer is granted their contingency periods that start the day after the offer is accepted.  It’s a breath of fresh air for a buyer since short sales are slow and painful.  Because bank owned homes are smooth transactions for the most part – we do see them move off the market much quicker than the dreaded short sale.

The Con’s

Buying a bank owned home means one thing – no real disclosures.  Sometimes it even means the home is in various forms of neglect.  The bank, having never lived in the home, does not provide the buyer with the disclosures a normal seller would provide.  The two most interesting reads not provided by the bank, aside from inspection reports, are the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and the Seller Supplemental Checklist (SSC).  These two standardized forms ask the seller a myriad of questions covering neighborhood nuisances and issues with the home.   The bank does however need to provide the buyer with the California State Mandatory Disclosures, one of which is the Natural Hazards Report which covers natural hazards around that particular property.

How This Affects the Buyer

Banks require an As-Is sale.  This is typical of many sales.  As-Is means as disclosed.  However, since the bank has no personal knowledge of the home – it is hard to disclose the potential issues.  Since the disclosures are weak, the burden is placed on the buyer to investigate.  As Realtors we cannot attest to the condition of the property or neighborhood – but we do encourage the buyer to seek professional opinions.  Some buyers visit the local police department and ask candid questions, I’ve even had buyers door knock the surrounding homes to speak to their potential neighbors.

As for the condition of the home – that’s the easy part.  As in any buying transaction, the buyer will have contingency periods to do all their inspections at which point we’ll get the home, pest and roof inspector out to check out the home and provide the buyer with a written report.  The buyer can do any inspections they want, from lead to asbestos, to truly anything that is of concern to them and for their plans for the property – pretty much just like any other buying transaction.  The only downfall – if issues arise – often times the bank does no repairs.

How We Go About All This

Since these transaction are so cut and dry, before we sit down to write the offer with our buyers, all parties take a good hard look at the property to determine the buyers offer price.  A buyer does not perform their inspections prior to writing the offer because a home, pest and roof inspection costs upwards of $500.  After the offer is accepted, the buyer will pay for their inspections and we proceed from there.

Generally, the buyer knows what they are getting into.  Often times these homes are in states of neglect and may be missing key fixtures or appliances.  In the end, both the buyer and their Realtor take all of this into account and write their best offer.

For more tips on writing an offer on a bank owned home – stay tuned!

Got Questions?  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/

A Quick Review on the Different Real Estate Markets…

Google buying a home and words like short sale, REO, bank owned, or regular sale pop up.  All these terms can be a bit confusing.

Right now, on the San Francisco Peninsula market we are experiencing three very different niche markets.

  • Regular / Normal Sale
  • Short Sale
  • Bank Owned Sale

Allow me a moment to explain what these three niche markets are and how they affect the buyer.

Regular / Normal Sale

These may feel like transactions of the past – but a normal sale is when the seller owns their property and the mortgage on the home is below the current home value.  In other words – the seller has equity in their home.  Equity is the profit for the seller.  The best part of a normal sale is working with living breathing humans who will respond to a buyers offer within a normal period of time and provides the buyer with disclosures upfront that sometimes include a recent home or pest inspection.  A quick glance at Redwood City last week (July 2011) showed 73% of the homes on the market are normal sales!  Wow – not what you expect if you listen to the news!

Short Sale

These transactions are trickier than the rest.  A short sale means, the seller owes MORE on their mortgage than the home is currently worth.  They have negative equity.  If circumstances change in the sellers life and they now need to sell their home – the home is placed on the market like a normal sale, however, when an offer comes in and the seller accepts it – it is their bank (where the mortgage is held) that needs to agree to take a shortage on their loan – thus the term Short Sale.  Doing a short sale hurts a seller’s credit less than allowing the bank to foreclose.  For a buyer it means patience since the response time for a bank to review their offer is anywhere between 3-6 months. Generally the seller still resides in the home and can provide disclosures upfront, though money is tight and the seller may opt to have the buyer pay for their own inspections.  In Redwood City last week 17% of the homes on the market were known short sales.

REO (Real Estate Owned) or Bank Owned Sale

The REO or Bank Owned property is a post foreclosure property.  That means the bank has foreclosed on the seller and now the bank owns the home and is selling it themselves.  The good news – a bank can respond to a buyer’s offer within a week – instead of the 3-6 months on a short sale.  The bad news, there are NO additional disclosures on the property aside from the CA mandatory disclosures.  The buyer holds the burden of conducting their own home and pest inspections (plus any other investigating they desire) during their contingencies.   Since the bank has never lived on the property they do not complete a Transfer Disclosure Statement that covers – along with many other items – neighborhood nuisances that a seller would have to disclose.  Have no fear – as the buyer you are protected and will have time to inspect the home to ensure it is in satisfactory condition.  Last week in Redwood City – 8% of homes for sale were bank owned.

(The remaining properties were 1% Auctions, 1% Court Confirmation /Probate Sales)

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com or visit our website at http://thecatonteam.com/

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com/