Deciding On Your First Home

May 30, 2012 by  
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Ready To Leave That Apartment?

Now would be the absolute best time to find your first home. Starting your search as a first time homebuyer is a vital part of growing a financial base and credit rating as well as moving you into a comfortable space you will love. If the time is right for you to find your first home, there are a number of things to consider before you pull the pin on that first contract.

Prior to viewing any new home, make sure you begin looking at the process carefully and with a sharp eye. Learn what the mortgage rates are and how the general home financing scene is fairing at that time. Know what other buyers are paying for mortgages monthly and decide what an affordable monthly number is for you and yours. You need to understand the real estate market for the kinds of property that interest you and determine if you can afford these or look at something less expensive.

When you learn the basics of your market and what is for sale in the district you desire, your search will be adjusted in your favor considerably. Make certain of what your credit rating will look like to a lender and you better ask yourself are your paychecks going to be secure for a time. Biting off more than you can chew for your first home can be a disaster and lead to unexpected hardship at closing or some point thereafter and put you back financially for years.

At this stage of the first home buying process the situation widely depends on the professionals you line up as allies to your cause. The biggest decision is finding the best realtor for you. Having a good agent can make all the difference in the way your transaction turns out, the style of home you buy and the home financing you receive. A good realtor will find you the absolute best home in short order after determining your resources and living needs. Ask your agent if they have links to home inspectors and mortgage lending institutions. The professionals you recruit to help you find your first home can decide if problems will develop and mean the difference between a poor deal and a great deal.

Prior to or during the process of looking at homes, be sure you understand what is being discussed around you – learn the terminology in finance and real estate. Real estate market terms and mortgage language can be tricky so ask as many questions as you need to – there is no such thing as a stupid question. This is a big step in your life so understand each step of the experience.

Buying your first home can be a real trip, it should be an adventure and a bit challenging, but not a hardship. Be confident in your actions and understand all of the procedures as you encounter them. Knowledge is power so empower yourself before you even begin your first home hunt and get precisely what you are looking for.

Expert Answers Your Real Estate Questions

James asks…

Can you find homes for sale in Pittsburgh on Realtor.com?

I am just curious… I have been trying for several days to find listings of homes for sale in Pittsburgh, PA, but the site says there are only 30 or so homes for sale. I know there are thousands. When I search other cities, the site is fine. I am not changing any search options. If you try to search for Pittsburgh, are you coming up with a small #, or the full list? Thanks.

The Expert answers:

Hi,

Get filtered homes for sale in Pittsburgh or any province of US or any region of the world right here http://realageads.com/free-ads/

Realageads focus is to give exact information to the world Real Estate market. We research and get you news, articles, rebates, offers from creative service providers to the Real Estate Industry. You can find us for latest trends in anything around real estates and property

All the best

Betty asks…

I just listed my house on the MLS service, How long does realtor.com take to pick up the MLS? ?

I just listed my house on the MLS service, How long does realtor.com take to pick up the MLS?

The Expert answers:

I was just looking thru realtor.com to see who the agent was on a house i am looking to buy and it wasnt even on there. Although i looked through another MLS site and the homes been listed on that site for 5+ months!!

Laura asks…

What is a website that I can look for houses for rent in Beckley WV I tried realtor.com and craigslist.com ?

I need some other websites so I can look for rental properties I have already tried Realtor.com and Craigslist.com is their any other websites that I can go to and look

The Expert answers:

Here’s a couple links that may help you.

Http://www.rentals.com/West-Virginia/Beckley/

http://www.rentalads.com/rental-properties/West-Virginia/

Depending on the size of Beckley, you may need to look in other towns/cities that are close by in order to find something at first. Hope this helps you. Good luck!

David asks…

Is there a better website to access houses for sale in southern california than realtor.com?

I noticed realtor.com has lots of outdated and missing houses for sales. Is there a free website I can access that’s close to MLS? I need a link please.

The Expert answers:

Do not go to a discount brokerage of any kind to get information. Look at it this way, the sellers are represented by a professional negotiator who specializes in real estate. You want a professional negotiator who specializes in real estate working for you. The best way to find a home is to contact a Buyer Specialist at a reputable real estate brokerage.

I do not know what area of So. Cal you are talking about, but as a Realtor myself for 16 years, (yes I am a professional negotiator) I would contact a specialist in the area I was moving to.

By the way…Realtor.com is pathetic. There is one heck of a lot of outdated listings. It is not as automated as they tell us Realtors it is. Bag it. It is a waste of time.

Maria asks…

I have an excel doc with thds of addresses is it pos to set up excel to go to realtor.com and bring back data ?

The only data I want to search is zip code and property square feet and bring back the first five prices and put the into excel. is this possible.One problem I see is in realtor.com the square footage is a drop down menu.

The Expert answers:

It may be but more amd more sites are making it difficult to extract data from their web sites to prevent copyright infringement. You need to consider first whether your intended activity would violate such rights of realtor.com for two reasons.

The first and it should be the most important is the question – is what you are doing legal and ethical.

The second is the question of consequences. There is a small chance that you could be discovered and taken to court. There is the chance that the time you spend trying to download the data will just be wasted. There is a chance that after you have spent hours developing a working solution, the web site will be changed in a way that completely stops it from working.

Be aware that the last chance exists even where what you want to do is completely ethical and legal.

If you decide that what you want to do is ethical, legal and worth the risk then you can

Start macro recording to capture what you are doing.

Select Data > Import External Data > New Web Query

Navigate in the browser that pops up to the information you want to capture and see if you can select it for import. If you can, then complete the import and look at what shows up in your Excel worksheet. If that is usable, then continue developing and testing. If it is not usable, you can retry until you decide that it is very unlikely that you will be able to get what you want.

Another option you should consider would be to contact realtor.com about how they could make the data you need avaialbe at a reasonable cost.

Good Luck

Sandra asks…

what is the best website (except for realtor.com) to look for homes for sale?

The Expert answers:

Theres yahoo real estate. Its about the same as realtor.com.

Lizzie asks…

Does anyone know any websites other than realtor.com that has rental properties on it?

I am looking for rental houses in maryland and I found a website called realtor.com and I am trying to find others if anyone knows any please tell me and thank you them

The Expert answers:

Try craigslist, rent.com, apartments.com…. There are also search engines on MSN and Yahoo for rentals across the country.

Daniel asks…

where is the realtor.com for biddeford, maine?

my daughter is buying one of the houses on this realtor’s city

The Expert answers:

You question isn’t really clear, but does this help?

Http://www.realtor.com/FindReal/WhichPages.asp?mls=maine&st=me&poe=realtor

Carol asks…

Where can I find out the MLS# for a home for sale(other than realtor.com) if I provide the street address?

The Expert answers:

Call an agent in your area… They can probably look it up for you.

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Expert Answers Your Real Estate Questions

Nancy asks…

how do i go about getting a free goverment grant for buying a home?

The Expert answers:

Www.hud.gov

Program is for first-time home buyers only though.

Chris asks…

home grants for the disabled?

Are there any special grants for disabled people to buy a home or is it the same for everyone?

The Expert answers:

The Center for Housing and New Community Economics (CHANCE)

http://alliance.unh.edu/

CHANCE has information about Section 8 Home-Ownership Program that you should check out.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

http://www.hud.gov/

HUD has information about Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans that you should check out.

Michael asks…

Looking to purchase a new home in CO are there any grants, or programs to assist second time home buyers?

Decided to move to CO and we are completing the sale on our home in IL. We are looking to buy a home here in CO and wondered if there are any programs available for a purchase of a new home. We are both military vets, students and I am a federal employee. Is there a grant, credit or home purchase program that will help us with a new home purchase?
Purchasing a home because “Decided to move to CO”. Thanks!

The Expert answers:

The only program would be a VA loan.

Ruth asks…

Are there any Home Grants i could get through the VA for being a 100% disabled vet?

I have heard rumors saying thet i could get 50% of the home paid for but i have not seen anything concrete stating this. i am looking into buying my first home instead of renting

The Expert answers:

Go to www.va.gov , mouse over veteran services , click on benefits booklet , click on chapter two and scroll down to Specially Adapted Housing Grants . That explains those benefits and qualifications for them. Good luck and thanks for serving.

Mary asks…

Any First Time Home Buyer Grants Still Available?

Just wondering if there are actually any first time home buyer or home buyer in general grants available (in the United States). Seems most of the information I can find online (posts as well as government websites) expired a few years ago and some as far back as 2001.

Are there any out there to help with down payment, or just with buying a house in general? What about tax rebates? I know the big one already ended this past April, but are there plans for any new ones?

The Expert answers:

There aren’t any at all on the federal level, but your state or city may have a grant program. Talk to a local lender, they will know about any that are available for the location you want to buy in.

Ken asks…

how to find goverment grants for first time home owners with out buying the books!?

The Expert answers:

1. U.S. Housing and Urban Development Dept. (HUD)

http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/grants/grantsrsrc.cfm

2. HomeBuyers Online Resource:

http://www.homebuyerfunds.com/

3. Home Investment Partnership Program

http://www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/affordablehousing/programs/home/

Good Luck!

Mark asks…

My brother is buying a new house for just under 1.3mil. Should he get 2 or 3 times the 21000 home grant?

$21000 is not much if you are buying a 1.3mil house. It should be the dearer the house the more grant to help the economy along.

The Expert answers:

Uh, no… It should be a decrease as he can afford more. I believe the first home owners grant should be means tested.

Helen asks…

How do I find free home improvement grants?

I just bought an older home and its in need of repair to make it safer for my children.

The Expert answers:

There aren’t any, as far as I know. You can get some grants if you are improving the energy efficiency of your home in some areas.

James asks…

How do I find free home improvements grants?

I just bought an older home and need to upgrade it, to make it safer for my children.

The Expert answers:

Grant help http://www.mb01.com/lnk.asp?o=1975&c=918273&a=36503

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Expert Answers Your Real Estate Questions

Joseph asks…

What is a short sale in real estate?

I have been looking for a place in panama city and a lot of them are short sales. They say dont be frightened by short sale but I am unnaware of what it is. Also is foreclosure and or short sale a good place to look for a first time home buyer. And is panama city a good place to look if I hope to invest in real estate in the future?

The Expert answers:

Not quite KelleyV. I am not certain about Panama City but I can tell you about USA.
A ‘shortsale’ is a property that is in PREforeclosure status and the current property owners can no longer maintain payments on for one reason or another. The homeowners do not have any equity in their properties so they are unable to sell by conventional means. Rather than have their home foreclosed on by the bank and ruin their credit for 5-7 years instead the owners attempt to ‘shortsale’ the property which will affect their credit for a lessor amount of time- typically 2-3 years until they are able to purchase a home again if all other bills are paid on time.
The shortsale is a very complicated process and may takes months for bank approval. Although the owners of the property are eager to sell the bank must also agree to forgive the difference or the debt from the amount they are owed by the current homeowner and the amount you place in your offer which would be current market value. Sometimes this could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bank also looks at cost to sell property vs forclosure costs , liens and/or second mortgages the first bank must pay off to give clear title, basically how much they will profit if they decide to grant this shortsale rather than foreclose on the owner and get paid from insurance and sell property again. And whether the owner is truly deserving of being granted a shortsale firt of all. They must have a true hardship and be in financial distress. Not just an investor who bought 10 properties who is now trying to sell properties because market has declined and he no longer wishes to make payments on bad investments. There are many factors the banks look at and because there are so many people attempting to shortsale properties (at least in US) it can take a very long time. The shortest I’ve ever seen is 3 months , the longest ever over a year. It may be quite different in Panama, I am not sure. But here in the US- for the buyer- it should not be called a ‘shortsale’ at all. It should be called a ‘ longsale’ and you need to know before placing an offer that these transactions require a lot of patience. Also know this-NOT ALL SHORTSALES ARE APPROVED. Not even half that are in submitted to the banks are ever approved which is why you see so many bank owned or REO listing(what a property becomes AFTER it is foreclosed on). So you could be waiting for months only to find out the bank says NO. If you would like to purchase a property in a quicker timeframe is better to look for bank owned or REO property if it is available. Or buy from a homeseller not attempting to shortsale at all. Find yourself a good real estate agent from a reputable firm (like RE/MAX). Make sure they are a Buyers Agent so they will be looking out for YOUR best interest. They will have designaton ABR (Accredited buyers Representative) on their business card. Also look for CDPE. This stands for Certified Distressed Property Expert. They have taken extra education for shortsales & foreclosures only. They will be able to fill you in and inform you of all relevant information in your locale.

Susan asks…

How much in taxes will I pay on the sale of Real Estate?

I paid 300k for a condo as a rental 7 years ago. I put 100k down and borrowed 200k. I lost about 7k each year (expenses minus rental income) which was written off each year. If I sell it now for 350k and pay 20k real estate commission and pay off the loan (about 180k) how much is taxable income (or loss)?
I took about 6k per year in depreciation.

The Expert answers:

Gain of $30K plus the amount of depreciation (but not other expenses) that was deducted or could have been deducted minus the cost of any improvements (but not maintenance) for which you made while you owned it.

Ken asks…

How do I find English website for real estate for sale in Denmark?

Does anyone know some websites that I can look for houses for sale in the greater Copenhagen area in Denmark?

The Expert answers:

I am more than happy to contact my Danish friends for you in regards to this.

Steven asks…

Does anybody know exactly what happens to your credit after a real estate short sale?

We were recently married, each came to the marriage with a home. We are selling one and are not in foreclosure but for financial reasons we need to unload the house. There is no way we will sell it for what we owe, we are in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Home values continue to decline. Wonder if anyone had done a short sale in a similar situation and what your credit looked like after. It is my husband house entirely in his name and he currently has near perfect credit. Thanks in advance!

The Expert answers:

The article in the newspaper said that your score would go down to 600 after a short sale. That surprised me. If you were not behind on your payments, why would anything be reported to a credit agency. But it seems to be true..

Chris asks…

Can a loss on the sale of real estate be deferred into the following year?

The real estate is a home built for resale by a non-profit.

The Expert answers:

In some countries, such as the US and Canada, capital loss can be carried forward to future years.

Laura asks…

what is the going percentage given for a real estate finders fee?

I would like to know to expect as a finders fe for aa real estate sale?

The Expert answers:

What are you doing to get this real estate finders fee?

If you are finding real estate for investors or clients for real estate agents those are two different items are paid differently depending on the service you provide.

In finding real estate for a real estate investor depending on how much information you provide as well as the agreement you have with the investor.

In a real estate sales transaction for a real estate agent a fee could be as small as a dinner out to an expensive restaurant or as much as half of the commission a real estate agent earn, again this would depend on the information you provide as well as the agreement you have with the real estate agent.

Some real estate professionals will tell you that it would be illegal to give a finders fee to someone, however, this is not the real world. This is being done everyday. Some of your top producers have set up such a network that they have clients on a daily ore weekly basis based on these finders.

Real estate investors build their business on these real estate finders also, therefore they are the first to know about a foreclosure, a divorce and other things that would cause a property to become a foreclosure or distressed property.

Some go so far as to train their finders so the investor would do less work while the finder know exactly what the investor is seeking in the purchase of investment properties.

These finders would sometimes go on to become investors themselves after learning for their mentor.

I hope this has been of some benefit to you, good luck.

“FIGHT ON”

Donna asks…

How many homes does the average real estate agent sale in one year?

I understand that it fluctuates based on the agent, the market and the broker they work for. Can anyone give me a ballpark range?

The Expert answers:

The average is one, as most of them do not even sell one.

Daniel asks…

Capital gains on real estate sale?

I own a condominium with my brother. He is now married and we talked about me selling my share (50%) of the condo to his wife. If I do sell out my share, and dont reinvest the gains into another property, would I have to pay taxes on the capital gains or can I put the cash into my bank and pay nothing in taxes? I heard that I could just take the money without any tax liabilities, but that sounds too good to be true.

Facts:
1) I’ve lived in the condo for the last 3 years.
2) The appreciation of my share (50%) is about $50K.
3) I live in California.

Thanks in advance!

The Expert answers:

If you are not rolling the money back into another property, then you will definately have to pay capital gains tax

David asks…

estate settlement question – specifically real estate sale?

My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: CT

the executor of my aunt’s estate is sketchy at best and we are wondering what the real estate portion of the “Decedent’s Estate Administration Account” he mailed us really means.

He is claiming a $9021 loss on the sale of my aunt’s home and lists it like this:

inventory valuation, per appraisal 205,000
deduction for quick loan & Indy Mac 91,593
Net proceeds of sale of real estate 101,385

loss 9,021

1. why is he listing appraised value? that means nothing. all we need to know is how much she owed and how much it sold for.

2. what is the “deduction for a quick loan and Indy Mac”? 91,593?

thanks for any help

The Expert answers:

I’m not a incredibly qualified to answer your question, but I’ll give it a shot. I would say he marked the appraised value because it was planned expense. They may have had some stipulation in a contract, etc, that the house would be worth so-and-so much. Well, it’s not. So, the appraised value may have covered fees or whatever you’re trying to describe, but the actual price may have been lower. Perhaps, perhaps lower than the commission he may have agreed to have. I’m not sure. That’s just what I thought. I have no idea about your second question.

Your best bet would be to find someone a local lawyer to examine the document for you.

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Your Questions About Real Estate

Susan asks…

my offer on a condo was accepted and now i have to sign the contract?

my real estate agent referred me to an attorney for review. I believe he said the fee was around $900 (or less, i dont remember). my question is this: should i use him, will he represent my best interest or will he just do anything to get the deal done. is my agent getting a cut from referring him to me? or should i just search for my own attorney. I am a first time home buyer and not well versed with how these things work. Thanks..
i know i need an attorney but my question is whether i should use this one. please i dont want to email anyone privately because this is an open forum and maybe others can learn from all of your suggestions

The Expert answers:

Have an attorney look at it

Michael asks…

Should I have an attorney represent me in a real estate closing?

If an attorney has reviewed and approved the actual purchase agreement, is it necessary or recommended to have an attorney physically represent me at a real estate closing? Or can Title company safely act as my closing agent?

It would be an all cash purchase, so there won’t be a pile of complicated and confusing mortgage paperwork to sign.

Please mention potential pitfalls, if any, of not having my own attorney physically at closing.

Real estate purchase would take place in state of Virginia.
Attorney WILL review purchase agreement before I sign it. However, she is on vacation the week when seller wants to close, so could not be physically present to represent me at closing.

So “real estate purchase agreement” I have been given will have been reviewed and approved by my own attorney; she just can not be physically present at closing. Will this be ok?
And since there is no mortgage paperwork, what other documents would I need to read and sign at closing? (other than copy of real estate purchase agreement I already have; or is actual purchase agreement at closing a different document?)
And does Title Agent acting as my closing agent have a legal fiduciary duty to me?
Question for Mary B:

Is “real estate purchase agreement” I have already been given be the actual legal document for sale of condo, and nothing new will be signed at closing?

Seller is a lawyer and her firm prepared contract (contract seems straight forward and fair to my uneducated eye – but I will definitely have my own lawyer review it before I sign).

Contract says she specifies settlement agent and settlement place. If I use the Title Company her firm uses, does that Title Company and Title Closing Agent have a fiduciary duty to me (I am technically pay for it, but she is giving me $2500 closing cost assistance)?

And who do I give earnest money deposit to? Neither buyer or seller is represented by a realtor in this pure FSBO transaction.

The Expert answers:

There is no reason to have him present. The closing will be at a title company, most likely, and that is a simple process. You were smart to have an attorney review the agreement.

Sharon asks…

Real estate closing escrow mistake ?

Got a call from the title company saying they mistakenly underestimated the agent fee prior to closing our house sale even though everyone had reviewed the documents. They are asking us to send them (escrow co) a check to cover their mistake. Is this legit? Shouldn’t the documents be changed even though they’ve been filed?

The Expert answers:

This happens from time to time and at closing you signed a paper that essentially said you would work with them if anything like this came up. So, assuming this was just a mistake, you do have to pay this money.

However, I’d first off demand a letter explaining exactly what the mistake was and maybe even a new closing sheet (unsigned, of course) with the correct amounts. I would not send them a check based on a phone call. Then review the contract and everything and make sure the mistake is genuine, and if so go ahead and pay them the extra $$$.

Sandy asks…

Does asking for a 6% sellers concession help or hurt me?

I am hearing opposite responses from my broker and my agent. I have more than what is required for my down and closing costs. My mortgage broker told me that I need to tell my real estate agent that I require a 6% sellers concession for the deal. I agreed as i wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. When I told my real estate agent and she said I should look into another broker because that 6% won’t allow me to find a home in the time period that I want to do so 2 months. She says it also makes me uncompetitive in the market when other buyers may not require a concession at all or may only require a 3%. My broker is adamant he requires 6%. I found him on zillow.com and he had over 20 (5) star reviews from past clients. But given my real estate agents advice now I’m not sure. I am doing an FHA loan and I have more than the 3.5% down which is required, why do I need the 6% concessions? Is asking a 6% concession in my favor [per my broker] or against it [per my realtor]. I greatly appreciate any advice you can give me.

The Expert answers:

HURTS you.
The MORE you ask from sellers, the less attractive your offer is to them. Talk to the lender/broker. He cannot REQUIRE a seller’s concession if you have the money for down payment and closing costs.
It is IN your favor, in that this is money seller is crediting you at closing, so you have to bring LESS to the the table.
If such an offer is accepted, it is in your realtor’s favor because the selling price is higher than if the price were reduced and there were no seller’s incentives.
Your realtor is right to some extent, but over-reacting; I’d consider dumping them anyway if they’re so inflexible. From what I’ve seen, many IF NOT most buyers are asking for seller’s concessions, although 6% seems high, seeing a lot at 3%.
What happens to this 6% sellers concession your broker insists upon? Does it go to you or to him? 6% seems RATHER steep for him in addition to all the lender payments.
Some yahoos are confusing your loan broker with your realtor/agent in their responses.

Mary asks…

Looking for Real Estate attorney with contacts at Chase – Re: Cash offer submission?

I would like to present a cash offer to Chase for a bank owned property in Hartford, CT. Listing agent has indicated that Chase will only accept offers via WWW.AUCTION.COM – which has less than stellar reviews (run a Google search). Bidding starts on Dec 14th. The property in question has fallen out of escrow a few times due to a few variables which make lenders uncomfortable in this market. Does listing on Auction.Com indicate that property truly is a toxic asset, or is Chase just using Auction.Com as a tactic to bid up price?

Please let me know if you can assist in presenting bid/engaging Chase in dialogue prior to start of DEC 14th auction.

Auction.com site states that banks will accept pre-auction bids, however clicking pre-auction tab indicates that pre-auction period has ended???

thx

MP

The Expert answers:

You are attempting to circumvent the system which JPMorgan/Chase has elected. It won’t work. You can try to do whatever you want to do, but you will get bounced back to www.auction.com. That is Chase’s preferred mode, and they’re not going vary from it, regardless of your attempts.

Paul asks…

Is the realtor trying to pull a fast one to make a sale?

My partner and I noticed a house for sale and we really like it. We went to look at it and its beautiful. We reviewed the disclosure from the real estate agent. It said a valve needed replaced on the propane tank. We went to the bank and asked for a loan on the home, and paid $500 for the home to be inspected by a professional.
We found out the roof needs replaced very soon. There are dozens of shingles missing.
We also found out the underground propane tank has a leak and needs replaced.
The mortgage lender at the bank told me they would not loan on a house which has a bad roof.
She also told me they will be sending out an appraiser to appraise the house.
The real estate agent wants us to put it in the sales contract we will pay ourselves to replace the roof.
I think the seller needs to replace the roof.
I also think this should have been in the disclosure. Why would the agent not know that roof is falling off. He has some very slick comebacks and says the home inspector says the roof is in “need of repairs”, and says the home owners knew the roof was needing some work but believe we should pay for it.
The propane tank has been dealt with.
Who should pay for the roof? Shouldnt it be fixed before the sale?
We offered $205,000.00 and asked them to fix the roof. We found a contractor who is well known in our area to give us an estimate for it
$8,600.00. The seller wants to pay $3,000. and have us pay the other $5600.00 It bugs me it was not in the initial disclosure. If the roof is bad and the appraiser from the bank finds out, its a no go. They will not loan on it.

The Expert answers:

The owner has to fix the roof, or adjust the selling price accordingly to mutual satisfaction.

In the latter case, you would sign a waiver agreeing to buy the house with the roof in its present condition – of course, the bank may then refuse the loan, and you’d be stuck.

So, I strongly suggest that you get the owner to fix the roof to the extent it fully passes inspection of an inspector approved by the bank.

I would not put it past the realtor to pull a fast one – sales are generally weak in this poor economic climate, and they need the business, so they have enough “incentive” to cut corners and not do as thorough a job as they should.

In today’s buyer market, you hold all the cards. If you do not like or trust the deal, just walk. I suspect they will not want this to happen.

Ken asks…

Recourse to neighbors violating HOA and obstructing our view?

IWe moved into a new neighborhood with a HOA which borders a hillside that is a protected preserve and that is the charm of the community. We felt the charm of the hillside would be preserved because in the HOA it requires that home owner needs to submit landscape plans for review and adjacent neighbor who would be affected must sign off in order that in does not interfere or obstruct the neighbor’s view. Our neighbor who never submitted a plan nor did he asks us to sign off as his immediate neighbor. He planted about 20 palm tree which at this time is small but in years to come it will cover our view of the hillside. We brought it to the attention of the board. He was called to the board hearing, he said he did not know but he did because I told him about the fact that he needs to submit plans for the trees, and by the way he is a real estate agent who should be familiar with HOA rules. Two of the board members at the hearing, his two friends, decided to let him decided to let him keep the trees as is even though we said we would be the ones most effected by it and wanted him to remove 4 trees, those that will block our view. We feel powerless, even though we pay our HOA dues and are very careful about following the rules and to have some one totally disregard HOA rules and is then rewarded while our needs are ignored. Please let us know what our recourses are if any other then moving?

The Expert answers:

You can sue the HOA for breach of contract, and also vote out the members the next chance you get. As for your recourse concerning the neighbor, you have none until you do the above, unless you want to spend a lot of money fighting it in court. You CAN try getting a lawyer that will get you an injunction against the HOA and your neighbor.

Helen asks…

Real Estate Law Question?

I just purchased a four bedroom three bath home. I paid their asking price which was a little high compared to the other homes in the area. Today I found a tag inside a kitchen cabinet that said the home is a modular home. This was never disclosed by the seller or the seller’s agent. I called my agent and told him what I had found and after reviewing all of the paperwork he confirmed that the fact that it was a modular home was not disclosed. In my opinion a modular home is not as valuable as a stick built home. The house is in Tennessee. Do I have a case?

The Expert answers:

No

Chris asks…

When A home changes MLS status from short sale to agent owner?

What does this usually mean? A home we have been interested in recently changed status in the MLS. We have been put off by the fact that the home was a short sale as sitting with our hands tied for months waiting for a bank response doesn’t appeal to us. I have not yet moved to the area I am debating using an agent as I have already looked thoroughly into the area the schools are great no sex offenders or meth houses in the area crime maps are clean city has a good water supply and the schools are great etc. My offer can only be what I can afford minus any estimates to make the home habitable. I also have access to a real estate lawyer to review everything.

This is the e-mail I would like to send to the listing agent:

I noticed this home on the MLS awhile back. Its listing status just changed from Short Sale to Agent/Owner. Is this property still a short sale or has the ownership changed hands? The listing states the home is in need of repairs The photos attached to the listing are only of the exterior I would love an honest assessment of the shape that this home is in. Have any appliances or systems been replaced or updated? How old is the roof? Is the Water Heater more than 6 years old? Are there any known foundation problems? Is the home habitable in its current state? I am aware that “subd y” was built on top of a mine and therefore has a disclosure regarding sinkholes is this also the case in “subd x”? Has the property ever had a soils test performed on it? Thank you in advance for any information you can provide regarding this property.

Would asking these questions endanger me if I later choose to work with a buyers agent? Is there anything in my wording that could be improved upon?

Thanks in advance!

The Expert answers:

One possibility is that an agent bought this property as a short sale and opted to immediately put it back on the market.

Laws will vary in different states but generally if an owner has not lived in the home, they are not required to file any disclosures about the condition of the property.

You can certainly ask these questions and the owner/agent may provide answers if s/he has them. It generally wouldn’t preclude you from using a buyer’s agent if you choose to go through with the sale.

My advice would be to contact a buyer’s agent and request that they preview the home for you (if you are not geographically able to do so).

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