home buying tips

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!

Four Things to Avoid When House Hunting

  • What neighborhood works best for you?

    What neighborhood works best for you?

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House hunting can be exciting but there’s also plenty to consider when you’re conducting your search. When looking for a house, most people have a good understanding of what features they want.  But what about the things you need to avoid?

To dodge some major house hunting pitfalls, take a look at our quick tips below.

Looking outside of your price-range. Find out how much you can borrow from your home lender and stick to it.  While it can be tempting to stretch your budget for a home that appears to be just right, people often forget about hidden costs like taxes, insurance, utilities and fees that will be tacked onto the purchase price or the monthly payment. To avoid temptation, scratch any homes off your list that are clearly out of your price-range.

Buying the first home you see.  There’s a lot to consider when buying a home and without a strong basis of comparison, you could be making the wrong decision. Make sure you’ve done your research and have a good idea of what average prices are in the area you’re looking in and see how each home stacks up. You’ll also need to investigate the neighborhood to make sure it’s on par with your family’s needs. Once you’ve had a chance to look at some options, you’ll feel great knowing that you’ve made an informed decision.

Homes that need major renovations. Unless you have the cash flow and ability to renovate, these homes are best left untouched, especially for first time home buyers. Think about how much time you’re willing to wait while your house is being renovated – are you prepared to wait even longer? Renovation projects tend to go over-time and over-budget, so unless you’re looking to stay put for several years, this home might not be worth the headache.

Not getting inspections. Make sure you arrange an independent inspection to assess the overall state of the home, even if your lender doesn’t require it. Since sellers may not disclose all issues, an inspection is a great chance to discover any potential roadblocks and decide if they will make or break your buying decision.  Knowing the true state of the home can also provide some great bargaining power.

Whether you’re searching for your first home or your thirtieth, our expert team is here to help make your home-buying process as smooth as possible. Contact them for more information today.

Sources:

http://www.trulia.com/pro/buyers/house-hunting-pitfalls-to-help-buyers-avoid/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/03/06/the-7-top-home-buying-mistakes-you-should-avoid/

10 Real Estate Terms You Need to Know

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When it comes to buying and selling homes, part of walking the walk is talking the talk. After all, it will be difficult to search for and land your dream home or sell your current home if you aren’t quite sure what all the terms mean.

Below, we’re going to detail 10 of the most important real estate terms you’ll encounter as you look to buy or sell your home. And by learning them all, you’ll have the tools you’ll need to go through either process with confidence.

  1. Buyer’s Agent vs. Listing Agent

In any home-related deal, there are two agents: the buyer’s agent, who represents the buyer, and the listing agent, who represents the seller. Both will get a percentage of the final sale price of the home as their commission, meaning that you don’t pay your realtor regardless of whether you’re buying or selling.

  1. Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Many individuals, including you, might need a mortgage to purchase a home. Fixed rate mortgages have a fixed interest rate for the entire loan (which is generally about 30 years) whereas adjustable rate mortgages have variable rates (which are generally 5, 7, or 10 years).

  1. Pre-Approval Letter

If a buyer needs a mortgage, it’s important to seek pre-approval from the bank to determine how much they’ll lend. This will determine which properties buyers can consider and show sellers whether or not a buyer is qualified.

  1. Listings

Homes that are on the market are commonly known as “listings.” Listings will provide vital information about a property such as the price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and other details.

  1. Inspections

After making an offer, it’s essential that a buyer gets an inspection on the home they’re interested in. An inspector will evaluate potential issues like plumbing, electric, heating, appliances, the foundation, and more.

  1. Appraisal

Lenders require property appraisals to determine the home’s value. Typically, appraisals are based on the sale prices of homes that have sold in the area as well as the current condition of the property.

  1. Contingencies

Contingencies are included in offers on a home and specify conditions that must be met in order for the deal to get through. Of course, there are other contingencies as well, including:

  • Financing Contingency – Demonstrates a buyer’s loan approval.
  • Inspection Contingency – Demonstrates inspection results.
  • Appraisal Contingency – Demonstrates the appraised value in comparison to what you’re willing to pay.
  1. Offers

Offers are often made by agents or attorneys to show sellers the potential offers being made by buyers on a property. It’s common for sellers to counter an offer as well.

  1. Closing Costs

There are several fees that come with purchasing a home, commonly known as closing costs. Often, closing costs total 2 to 5% of the purchase price of the home (not including a down payment).

  1. Title Insurance

Once a seller has accepted an offer, buyers should receive a home title report that shows whether or not the seller has rights to the title and there are no liens on a home.

Looking for Assistance in Buying or Selling Your Home?

An agent is an indispensable resource when it comes to buying and selling homes.

And, when you’re looking for more than just terms to negotiate on your dream home or obtain an offer on your current home, United Real Estate can help. Contact us today to get started!

First Time Home Buyer FAQs

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Buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions most people will make in their lifetime.  Naturally, this means that potential homebuyers are going to have a lot of questions.

This list of FAQs will help prepare you for answering your customers’ most important queries.

Q: What are the most important things to consider when looking at the condition of a home?
A: There are several things to look at when determining whether or not to purchase a home. One is the age of the roof. A roof usually lasts between 15-50 years depending on its materials. Another area to look at is whether the foundation is raised or slab. Newer homes tend to have slab foundations, but a raised foundation makes it easier, and usually cheaper, to access underneath the home to address electrical and plumbing issues.

Q: Do I need an attorney to be involved?
A: It depends on the state. Some states require attorneys to draft a real estate transaction contract or purchase agreement, while others use an escrow company instead. Check with a real estate agent to find out the laws in a specific state.

Q: How do I decide what to offer the seller?
A: How much the seller paid for the home, how much the seller still owes on the home, and how long the home has been on the market are all things to consider when coming up with an offer. In addition to questions about the house, it is important that the buyer asks themselves how much they can feasibly afford and how valuable the house is to them when considering an amount to offer.

Q: Do I need to get a home inspection?
A: While it is typically an additional expense for the buyer, a home inspection will cover the entire house- inside and out- and can prevent costly surprises down the road. At the end of the inspection, a signed report of the findings will be given to the buyer. No other party is entitled to see the report unless the buyer allows them to.

Q: What is a house closing?
A: This refers to the final transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer. This transaction usually takes place in the office of someone who is licensed in initiating the transaction and purchase agreement such as a real estate lawyer or title officer. The date for closing is set during the negotiation phase and usually takes places several weeks after the buyer’s offer is officially accepted by the seller. There are several fees involved in closing, which can be paid either by the buyer or the seller- depending what they established during negotiation.

Q: Do I need title insurance?
A: Title insurance covers you in case the title search missed something that would make the purchase of the home invalid. While a title search is conducted during the home buying process, there can be things that aren’t caught until after the buyer has moved in, meaning they could potentially lose their house. If this were to happen, the buyer is likely to receive damages if they purchased title insurance at closing. Two title insurance policies are needed- one for the buyer and one for the lender.

This post is provided by our mortgage partner, Supreme Lending, using the following sources: 

http://realestate.findlaw.com/buying-a-home/questions-to-ask-when-buying-a-home.html
http://www.homeclosing101.org/costs.cfm
http://www.zillow.com/home-buying-guide/what-is-title-insurance/

The Challenges Facing First Time Home Buyers

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In 2013, 38 percent of home buyers were first-time buyers. Because first-time buyers can face unique challenges that other buyers may not, Supreme Lending and United Real Estate have partnered together to assist more people in achieving the dream of home ownership.

The statistics on first-time home buyers.

First-time home buyers tend to be young adults with an average age of 31. Around 56 percent of first-time buyers are married and 30 percent are single. The majority of first-time buyers, 59 percent, don’t have children. They tend to purchase homes around 1,570 square feet, and they have an average income of $64,400.

Specific challenges first-time home buyers face.

Did you know:

  • The average age range for first time home buyers is 25-35, which also happens to be the age group hardest hit by the recession. This means that they may still be building their careers or do not have the employment history that older buyers do.
  • Credit scores can also be a challenge for first-time home buyers because they may not have the long, established credit histories lender look for.
  • Down payments can be a problem for first-time home buyers. Some lenders require first-time buyers to put down 10 to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home, which can be difficult to come up with when the buyer might be just starting in their career.
  • Many buyers in this age group are also dealing with paying back substantial student loans. Having student loans can significantly impact the approval and even size of a home loan.
  • It’s their first time. Many first-time buyers are simply overwhelmed by the home buying process. This can result in them agreeing to a term or percentage without really knowing what it means for them or giving up the process entirely.

What you can do:

  • Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Buying a home can be an emotional experience, but it is important to try to put emotions aside and focus on finding a house that has what you’re looking for AND you can afford.
  • Take ALL of the expenses into consideration when deciding on your budget. Don’t forget to add in utilities, cost of commuting, insurance and other fees.
  • Read the homeowners association contract before you put in an offer. It could have conditions that make or break your decision.
  • Ask for help! You don’t have to go through the process alone. Make sure that you choose loan officers and real estate agents who are dedicated to making the process as simple as possible.

Sources: https://www.discover.com/home-loans, http://www.realtor.org, http://blakesloanradio.com

 Questions for us?  Email info@supremelending.com or call (877)316-0296

Supreme Lending
NMLS ID #2129
14801 Quorum Drive, Ste 300
Dallas, Texas 75254
www.gregorylaywell.supremelending.com

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Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

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    foreclosures

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If you’re looking to find a great deal on a home (and who isn’t?), you’ve probably considered buying a foreclosure, as a primary residence or as an investment property. While you might get a good price, purchasing a foreclosure home doesn’t come without some extra work.

Here’s a few hints to get you started:

  1. Foreclosed homes are also called real estate owned (REO) property. An REO property is owned by a bank or lender as a result of the previous owner defaulting on the loan. Other names for these properties would be a foreclosure property or a bank-owned property.
  1. Finding a real estate agent who works directly with banks that own foreclosed homes will provide you the best access to area houses. A site like ForeclosuresUS.com will help home buyers narrow down their search. Simple searches for ‘REO properties’ or ‘foreclosures’ can also help refine the search.
  1. Distressed properties are for sale during many stages of the foreclosure process. You might find homes in any of these stages.
    1. Pre-foreclosure – the homeowner still has control of the property
    2. Auction sale – you may be bidding against others, including investors
    3. Real estate-owned (REO) – a lender-owned property
    4. Government-owned – potentially a slower process with more paperwork
  1. Since the bank has not maintained the home, there will not likely be any record of repairs or maintenance that would assess the true property condition. The home comes with little room for negotiations and improvements. Similar to buying something ‘as-is’ the buyer will be responsible for repairs and updates.

Ultimately, the goal of combing through foreclosure listings is not to find a house – it’s to find an agent. Banks usually have a few agents who handle their foreclosure properties and these agents will have the insight into newly available homes. The economy will determine how many bank-owned homes you’ll find in your area. During a recession, as many as one-third of homes are sold in foreclosure but in a growing economy you might not find anything worth investing in.

Need help combing through foreclosures in your area? Contact us and one of our real estate agents can help you refine your search.

Get Up To Date Home Listings With URE iPad App

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    app II

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Buying a home is generally a time-consuming process for most people. Fortunately, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by making use of convenient home listing apps for homebuyers. 

United Real Estate offers an app designed for use with iPads. As long as you have iOS 4.0 or higher, you can download this app and use it to start searching for homes. This app makes it quick and easy for you to look through available properties and narrow down your options. It provides you with a number of benefits, including:

  • Up-to-date and highly accurate information on available real estate properties
  • Map that shows all homes for sale in the location you choose
  • Advanced search features that let you search by square footage, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, price range and lot size
  • Ability to search homes based on price reduction and newest listings
  • Views on property details
  • Close to 40 points of interest shown in your chosen location
  • Ability to save your searches
  • Convenient one-click access to United Real Estate representatives

Need more help finding your new home? Contact United Real Estate, and visit our Facebook page.