August 2015

Home Warranties: What You Need to Know

When you purchase a home, your mortgage company requires homeowners insurance. But a home warranty? That’s an entirely different story.

Do home warranties really protect you?

Do home warranties really protect you?

Whereas homeowners insurance protects personal property (i.e. the contents within your home) as well as the structure of your home should an accident or disaster occur, a home warranty is optional insurance that protects major appliances within the home.

So what should you know about a home warranty before deciding whether or not to get one for your home? Read on to find out!

Home Warranties are Valid for a Limited Time

A home warranty typically lasts for just one year. And while it can be renewed, you must track when it expires on your own because a carrier won’t often notify you when it is expiring.

Coverage (and Cost) Varies Depending on Your Warranty

As is the case with standard insurance, warranties differ depending on the level of coverage you want to pay for. If you opt for basic coverage, you may have a few appliances covered like your furnace, heating and air conditioning, and a few other major appliances.

If you upgrade to a premium plan, you’ll enjoy more protection for other appliances in your home. It’s up to you to decide how much coverage you feel comfortable with (and can afford) as most plans will vary from $250 to $600 annually.

You Have to Pay a Deductible When You Make a Claim

Depending on your specific home warranty, you will have to pay a certain amount each time you make a claim. And in most cases, you can’t combine costs if two appliances break down at once; you must pay separate fees for each.

In Most Cases, You Can’t Choose Who Completes the Repairs

If you’re someone who is uncomfortable with being told who can enter your home to make the repairs, a home warranty may not be for you. In almost every case, your home warranty carrier will already have a list of contractors for all repairs, meaning you won’t be able to choose for yourself.

So, Should You Buy a Home Warranty?

Deciding whether or not to purchase a home warranty is a personal decision and one that you must make depending on the appliances in your home and whether or not you’re financially prepared to make major appliance repairs should something happen.

This makes it important to consider your options and make an informed decision when you’re purchasing your home. Many new homeowners don’t invest in a warranty if their home is less than 10 years old but will if it’s more than 10 years old. You may want to use these same guidelines or others as you make the decision for yourself.

If You’re Ready to Purchase a Home, United Real Estate Can Help

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home or have found it and need to take the next step, United Real Estate is here to support you along the way.

As a national leader, we’re able to guide new and experienced homeowners with our expertise. Contact us to find your dream home, today!

United Real Estate Partners with DocuSign

Complete your real estate transaction more efficiently with DocuSign.

Complete your real estate transaction more efficiently with DocuSign.

The real estate customers you serve are digital. The vast majority of real estate agents recognize that the home buying and selling process starts with a consumer going online to educate themselves about market conditions and the home buying/selling process. A real estate agent having an online presence is not the same as having a digital strategy and transaction management plan. This requires an agent to have an appropriate mobile technology strategy and a user friendly way of sending contracts and receiving legally binding documents with approved electronic signatures.

A good description of digital transaction management as it pertains to the real estate industry would be: A new category of cloud services designed to digitally manage document-based transactions. It provides a way for real estate agents and brokers to manage a real estate transaction which involves multiple individuals and documents to create a faster, easier and more convenient process for all parties involved. At United Real Estate, we have embraced a paperless transaction management and storage system through our Paperless Pipeline system. As the consumer demands for communication efficiency increases and the advancement of technology allows this to be accomplished, we at United Real Estate will add the services to meet our clients’ needs. The expectation of the consumer will not be just greater ease of access to information but also greater efficiency in handling the documents required to close a real estate transaction. United Real Estate has the services to meet the ever changing needs of our clients.

With estimates of up to 77 percent of the adult online population using smart phones and the majority of them using them for real estate searches, we proactively changed our websites last year to be mobile responsive. This redesign was done to adapt the layout and interaction of the sites to work optimally across a wide range of mobile devices and screen densities. The next step for real estate agents to embrace and stay current with their tech savvy customers is moving towards a digital transaction. Anyone who has experienced the ease of use of digital technology and digital transaction management knows this is the future of our industry.

We are happy to announce that United Real Estate has signed a preferred vendor relationship with DocuSign, the leading and most respected company for sending, managing and executing legal documents. DocuSign is the best product to use to digitize the real estate transaction, especially as more and more consumers review documents on their smartphones and tablets. The ease of use of the DocuSign product is unmatched, as is their training and support.

How to Balance Buying and Selling a Home

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Whether you’re downsizing or upgrading, purchasing a new home is exciting. However, selling your current home at the same time can be quite a challenge.

As you can imagine, both selling and buying at the same time (or even within a short time of each other) can get tricky, and fast! But if you’re caught up in this balancing act, there are a few different paths you can choose, all of which we’ll discuss below to help you make the best choice for both you and your family.

What if You Sell First, Then Buy?

This is what’s known as the safe option, primarily because you won’t purchase a new home with the hopes of selling your current home quickly and for the price you want. However, this scenario often puts you and your family in an inconvenient scenario.

For example, if you sell your home quickly, you may have to put your belongings in storage as you search for the home you want. But with the comfort and peace of mind that comes with already selling one home before moving on to the next, many homeowners find this option attractive.

What if You Buy First, Then Sell?

If you don’t want to be in a temporary rental between selling your current home and purchasing a new one, buying first may be the answer. After all, doing so means that you can move in to your new home at a pace that works with your lifestyle. However, doing so may also mean you’re responsible for two mortgages for an undetermined period of time.

If you own your current home, this plan is great. But if you’re already paying it off, paying two mortgages may put a financial strain on your family. As such, it’s important to consider whether or not you’re financially able to support this scenario if you end up purchasing your new home before selling your current one.

What if You Buy and Sell at the Same Time?

In an ideal world, you would be able to carefully balance the buying and selling of both homes so you aren’t burdened by two mortgages or forced to find a rental as you search for your new home. However, doing so can be difficult.

The best way to buy and sell at the same time is to turn to bridge financing. Doing so means you’re able to own both homes for some time but requires a short-term bank loan. This basically establishes a Home Equity Line of Credit, allowing you to put a down payment on your new home by borrowing against the loan on your current home. Then, once you sell your home, you can repay the loan.

In this scenario, it’s also best to try and schedule the closing on your home sale after the closing date of your new home. By doing so, you can move in to your new home before closing on your current home, streamlining the entire process.

United Real Estate is Your Resource for Home Sales and Purchases

If you’re currently trying to balance buying a new home and selling your current home, the team at United Real Estate can help.

Our expertise allows us to effectively balance these buying and selling scenarios, creating an ideal experience for you and your family. Contact us to find your dream home, today!

Who Should Pay for a Home Inspection?

So you’ve found your dream home and you’re ready to sign the paperwork, but not before getting a home inspection. After all, getting an inspection from a qualified professional is absolutely essential when you want to make sure there are no unwelcome issues with the foundation, electric, plumbing, or other systems in your new home.

But one question remains: Who should pay for the home inspection?

Don’t get caught with surprises, protect yourself with a home inspection.

This is one of the most common questions when it comes to working out the fine details of any home negotiation and below, we have the answers you’ve been searching for to seal the deal on your new home.

In Most Cases, Buyers Pay for the Inspection

While the nationwide average cost of a home inspection is approximately $450, inspections can cost upwards of $1,000 in areas of New York and sometimes less than the average in less populated areas. But no matter the exact cost, a home inspection is a pricey necessity that leaves buyers wondering if they should be stuck with the bill.

However, it is the buyers who traditionally pay for the inspection.

After all, it’s in their best interest to ensure that there are no issues with the home. Or, if the inspection does reveal issues, it gives buyers the ability to negotiate the price on the home due to the cost of any necessary repairs. As such, a home inspection can actually end up saving you money should you find major issues and prevent you from getting stuck with the bill for these repairs.

Sellers Do Pay for Some Inspections

Just like it’s most common for the buyers to pay for the home inspection, it’s also common for sellers to pay for other inspections.

For example, most sellers will pay for termite inspections and sometimes even well, water, or septic inspections if necessary. This alleviates some costs from buyers and gives further reassurance that the home is in proper condition for the next owners.

Everything is Negotiable

If you’re looking for a definitive answer to this question, you’ll probably find the answer “everything is negotiable” on most resources you find. And in fact, everything is negotiable.

In some cases, the sellers will pay for a home inspection. But if you’re looking for ultimate peace of mind in one of the most significant transactions of your life, it’s best to hire your own professional for the inspection.

If You’re Ready to Purchase a Home, United Real Estate Can Help

Whether you’ve found your dream home and need assistance scheduling the inspection or are ready to begin the hunt for your next home, United Real Estate can help.

Our position as a national leader in the real estate industry gives us both the experience and expertise to handle your unique needs. Contact us to find your dream home, today!

Get Your Credit Mortgage Ready

The path to homeownership can be stressful and often difficult. If you have less than perfect credit history, the obstacles might be even greater. Even if your credit is good, there are a few red flags that might prevent you from getting a mortgage (or the mortgage rate/type) that you are hoping for. Below is a list of items that can hinder the process of obtaining a mortgage:

Don't leave your credit score up to chance.

Don’t leave your credit score up to chance.

  • Bankruptcy– Some mortgages will work with a past bankruptcy. But you usually need to be several years past the discharge date and have rebuilt your credit. A bankruptcy, even when discharged, can stay on your credit report for up to ten years.
  • Foreclosure short sale – Some mortgages will work with a past foreclosure short sale. But you usually need to be several years past the sale date and have rebuilt your credit. Even when finalized, a foreclosure short sale can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.
  • Unpaid judgments– No mortgage lender wants to take the risk that an earlier debt could take precedence over their loan. All judgments must be satisfied, removed or vacated from your credit report. And, if paid, your judgment will stay on your report for seven years. Solve open judgments. Try to vacate them first or pay them and get proof that they’re paid. Yes, I know it hurts to take money out of your hard-earned down payment savings account. But that down payment won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t get a mortgage because of an old judgment from the cable company you fought with in your first apartment.
  • Open collections– If you don’t pay a bill, the company you owe may sell your debt to a collection agency who will try to get you to pay. ONLY PAY THEM OFF IF YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO. Keep in mind that paying a collection will not raise your credit score, but LOWER YOUR SCORE. Once a debt has gone to collections, your credit is hit and can only recover over time.
  • Too much monthly debt– A good rule of thumb is that if you’re paying more than 5 percent of your gross monthly income for debt payments (credit cards, student loans, car payments, personal loans), you’re decreasing the amount of mortgage you’ll be approved for. If your income is high and housing prices are reasonable, high debt might not hurt you much. But if you have a modest income, debt can price you right out of a mortgage.
  • Pay your current bills on time, religiously – You’ll need the boost to your credit score if you’ve had problems in the past. And you’ll want to prove to a lender you’ve gotten past old issues and made a fresh start in rebuilding your credit.
  • Make sure the problems are right – If not, you must dispute them off. Experts disagree about how many people have serious errors on their credit reports, but I have witnessed a client who discovered that someone had posed as his spouse after finding lots of strange information on his credit report. Don’t pay the price for someone else’s mistake.

This piece is guest written by our partner, Credit Law Center (CLC). CLC helps clients achieve financial success by cleaning up their credit history and putting them on track for financial freedom. Contact them today at (800) 994-3070 or by visiting creditlawcenter.com.