real estate tips

Tips for Buying a Foreclosed Home

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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.

Radon: Do you Really Need to Test for It?

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In a word, yes. Testing for radon is critical to the home buying and selling process.

According to the EPA, testing for radon is non-negotiable, estimated at causing about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. The tests are simple and inexpensive and as a homebuyer, it will give you an irreplaceable peace of mind.

Quick Overview

Radon is a gas that can’t be seen, smelled or tasted – but its’ estimated to cause thousands of deaths per year. Breathing air with randon can cause lung cancer and the Surgeon General estimates that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., with smoking causing the most cases.

Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil rock and water and permeates the air you breathe. The gas gets into your home through cracks in solid floors, construction joints, cracks in walls, gaps in suspended floors, gaps around service pipes, cavities inside walls and through the water supply. It can be found in all types of buildings but homes are the most worrisome, as you spend the most time there.

Ultimately, home repairs will need to be made if your radon level is 4 picocuries per liter or pCi/L or higher.  Radon levels less than 4 pCi/L still pose a risk, and in many cases may be more easily reduced.

Testing

You can test your home through a ‘DIY’ kit but if you are selling your home, you’ll likely want a qualified tester to do the testing and provide recommendations for you. A list of qualified testers is available by contacting your state radon office.

As a home seller, there are many ways to mitigate radon that has already managed its’ way into your house. Sometimes solutions are as simple as adding a vent fan or better sealing of foundation cracks. Newer homes are often built with radon resisting features.  A full list of solutions are available from the EPA here.

The home buying and selling process is full of nuances, to get assistance with the process or advice on your situation, contact us. We’re happy to help.

Learn Why United Real Estate Tops Real Estate Franchises

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Joining a franchise helps real estate agents gain experience as part of a nationally recognized brand. One of the drawbacks of belonging to one of these groups, however, is having to give a certain percentage of commission to a broker. You don’t have to worry about this with our company, though.

United Real Estate stands out among other real estate franchises thanks to our 100 percent commission model. Our agents get to keep their commission instead of splitting it with a broker, giving them even more incentive to provide exceptional service. Our company is also expanding rapidly, leading to more and more opportunities for agents to join one of our already established franchises or open a new one. Some of the other advantages that our franchise model provides include:

  • You don’t have to pay advertising or royalty fees.
  • You gain access to a comprehensive technology solution to help build your business.
  • You become part of one of the best franchises for customer satisfaction.
  • You’ll have a protected office territory.
  • You’ll have access to new, up-to-date training for managers and agents.

Interested in learning more about our real estate franchise? Visit United Real Estate, and follow us on Facebook.

Agent Spotlight: URE Adds Presence in Houston Market

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If you’re buying or selling a home in the Houston area, you’re in luck. United Real Estate is pleased to announce that we now have a new three-person team joining the Houston real estate office.

The three high-performing members of our new team, Barbara Byrd, Kelly Lark and Judy Vinson, bring years of experience and a commitment to outstanding service to the Houston real estate market. They joined our company in late May after working for Keller Williams Metropolitan. Kelly Lark stated that the team decided to become part of United Real Estate after realizing that our franchise model is a perfect fit for them. They now have access to our national network of support and resources, while also having the ability to help their business grow and thrive. With their arrival, we now have a stronger presence in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. Our company continues to expand, thanks to our outstanding customer service team and the talented new agents that are joining us across the country.

Ready to get started with buying or selling a home? Visit United Real Estate to find a local office, and stop byour Facebook page.

Best Deals: Access New Foreclosures in Your City

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Looking for the best deal on a new home? Purchasing a foreclosure lets you save a significant amount of money on a home that you might not be able to afford otherwise.

United Real Estate makes it easy to search for new foreclosures in your city, if you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland. Focusing on newer listings makes it less likely that you’ll run into the problem of finding foreclosed homes that have been damaged, vandalized or left vacant for a long period of time. This means that your chances of finding a foreclosure that’s in good condition and doesn’t require a lot of repairs or renovations are much higher.

You can search by county or city, address or ZIP code, school district, neighborhood and county or township. Our search feature also lets you narrow down your options by selecting a price range, number of beds, number of baths, minimum square footage, home style, property type and amenities. Keep in mind that buying a foreclosure is more complicated than a traditional home purchase, so consider having an experienced agent help you out.

Need help buying a foreclosure? Contact United Real Estate, and follow us on Facebook.

First-Time Homebuyer? Take Advantage of Our Resources

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Nervous about buying a home for the first time? The best way to ease the anxiety is to know what to expect and have a reliable agent guide you through the process from start to finish.

United Real Estate provides valuable resources for first-time homebuyers. With these resources, you’ll have a better understanding of how the buying process works and what you’ll need in order to help things run smoothly. All you have to do is register for free on our website to gain VIP access to our online tools and information for home buyers. With VIP access, you’ll learn how to get your credit report and how to get a pre-approval for a home loan.

 

You can also view a home buying roadmap, receive new listings daily, read about mortgage requirements and determine whether you should get a 15-year or 30-year loan. Our resources also help you budget for a new home, learn more about buying a condo, decide whether to buy now or wait and find out how to improve your chances of getting a mortgage.

 

Ready to access our homebuyer resources? Visit United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

New to Buying a Home? What Home Buyers Need to Know

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Thinking about buying a home for the first time? There are several benefits to becoming a homeowner, but you shouldn’t make this decision lightly.

Keep these home buying tips in mind if you’re considering taking the plunge into homeownership:

  • Talk to a real estate agent. Friends and family members mean well, but they might not offer you the most realistic advice about purchasing your first home. An agent can help determine how much you can afford to spend and whether or not you’re financially ready to buy a home.
  • Think long-term. Since you’ll most likely be in your home for several years, think ahead when choosing a home. Look for one that’s near good schools, even if you doubt you’ll have kids, since this boosts your home’s value. You should also look for a home that doesn’t stand out too much from the rest, such as one that’s much bigger than other homes near it.
  • Take your time. You don’t have to rush into purchasing a home for fear that you’ll miss out on a good deal. Take your time, and make a wise decision instead.

Need more home buying tipsContact United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

Boost Your Credit Score Prior to Home Buying

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Your credit score has a major impact on your ability to get a home loan with a low interest rate. That’s why it’s so crucial to make sure your score is as high as possible before applying for a mortgage.

If your credit isn’t in great shape, you can work toward improving it. Use these tips to boost yourpersonal credit score:

  • Order your credit report. Before doing anything else, request a copy of your credit report. You’re entitled to receive a free one each year. When you get it, look it over carefully for errors and have them corrected right away. You’ll also find out how much you owe and which creditors you owe.
  • Pay your bills on time. Late payments bring down your credit score, and it can take time to raise it again. Make sure you pay all of your bills on time, and don’t miss any payments.
  • Carry low balances. Keep your balances low if you can’t afford to pay them off completely. Higher balances will lower your credit score significantly. Keep balances below 50 percent of your limit.

Want more advice on mortgages? Call United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

Buying a Second Home: Is it a Good Financial Step?

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Having a second home gives you your own personal getaway that you can visit whenever you have a chance. When it comes to buying a second home, though, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Consider the following points if you’re thinking of getting a vacation home:

  • Shop around. It’s tempting to buy a second home in a vacation spot that you fell in love with, but you could be missing out on even better spots or better deals elsewhere. Look around in different locations to see if something better comes along before purchasing a second home.
  • Plan on owning it for awhile. In order to make your purchase a good investment, plan on owning it for at least ten years. Make sure you buy a home in an area that you’ll be able to get to several times throughout the year. Otherwise, buying a second home might not be a worthwhile investment.
  • Factor insurance costs into your budget. Second homes can cost quite a bit in insurance if you need coverage for wind or flood damage, such as in hurricane-prone areas.

Need help finding a second homeCall United Real Estate, and follow our Facebook page.

Three Common Myths About Home Buying

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During your search for a new home, you’re bound to run into a few common misconceptions about the process. Some of these involve the way credit works when you apply for a loan.

These are a few of the most common home buying myths about credit:

  • Your credit has to be in perfect shape. Lenders do use credit to make approval decisions and decisions on interest rates, but you don’t need the best score possible. You can still get a mortgage with less than stellar scores, although your interest rate will most likely be higher.
  • Lenders can share your credit information. Lenders can share this information with affiliates, but only if you’ve given them permission to do so. There are several laws that safeguard your personal credit information and prevent lenders from sharing it without your permission.
  • While there are hundreds of credit bureaus, lenders have base their decisions on the FICO scoring model. Other models such as Score X, Score + or Vantage are consumer based models that give people an idea of what their FICO score might be.

Need help shopping around for a good mortgage? Contact United Real Estate, and visit us on Facebook.