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Tuesday, July 5,2011

Ask Gabe

 

Q:How can I make a home purchase less stressful?

A: Major money transactions are stressful. Here are 3 money, mindset and calendar management strategies for buying a home without stressing entirely.

1.Preparation: If you are planning to buy a home down the road, consult a mortgage broker and real estate professional before you start the buying process so you can know what kind of cash you›ll realistically need to close the deal. You might be hearing about 3.5% down FHA loans, but your local professionals will let you know it could cost an additional 5 or 6% of the purchase price just to close such a loan, in your area and price range! If they give you a range, error on the high side. Have all your documents ready - things like divorce decrees, tax returns, updated check stubs, documentation of bills you’ve recently paid down or off , even driver’s licenses. Last, but not least, educate yourself about the standard practices and timelines for a real estate transaction in your local market (your agent will surely be able to brief you on this if you’re buying a bankowned property or a short-sale).

2.Keep your timelines as flexible as possible, as long as possible. Escrow closing dates are not set in stone until the end is very, very near. Buyers who are trying to time their closing so they can move out of their apartment on the exact day they plan to close are likely to be disappointed - and temporarily homeless - in the current market climate. Best practice is to plan on some overlapping days, weeks or even a month between the time you should be able to move into your next home, and the time you must be out of your current home. Keep your moving plans flexible as long as possible. Also try to keep some flexibility about your -George Stelos, Jacksonville Florida daily calendar while you are in escrow. If you only have a couple of days before you must remove your inspection contingency, you might have to drop everything and stop in at the place. You might also need to stop in at the bank - in person - to wire cash when it’s time to increase your deposit or pay your down payment or closing costs into escrow. This cannot usually be done over the phone or outside of banker’s hours.

3.Pre-approve the folks across the bargaining table from you. There’s nothing worse than doing everything you’re supposed to do, then having the deal fall apart at the last minute, through no fault of your own. I’ve known scores of buyers whose short sales failed to get approved by the seller’s bank and fell out of escrow as a result. I’ve also seen and heard from buyers whose deals died when their intended properties failed to meet the buyer’s mortgage guidelines because of condition problems like incomplete kitchen remodel jobs, mold or electrical problems and highcost pest report items that neither the buyer nor the seller can afford to repair. These ailing transactions can be prevented by early diagnosis. For buyers, this can mean having your agent collect as much information as possible about the seller’s equity position, how underwater the home is, which banks are involved and how successful the listing agent is at closing short sale transactions - all of these things can give your agent and yourself a big old clue as to whether a short sale is likely to close. With this information you can make an informed decision whether to move forward and try to buy the place; if you get into contract knowing it’s a crap shoot, at least you’ll have realistic expectations - the sort that are very difficult to disappoint.

 

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