Monday, December 26, 2005

The Do's and Don'ts - Home Mortgage

The Do's and Don'ts - Home Mortgage
Buying a home will probably be the biggest and most important investment of your life. The costs of owning a home (Annual mortgage, taxes and insurance) can vary from 25% to 40% of your gross annual income.
To ensure that home ownership is a pleasant experience and that you won’t end up in an unmanageable situation, you must take steps to protect yourself. This means getting information to act prudently and get the best deals, whether its purchasing a house or negotiating your mortgage. Talk to family, friends and real estate professionals and read any pertinent material. The effort you take will save you money and heartache.
Read the entire article at my website

Do: Get a pre-approval before shopping for a home.
Getting pre-approved means that you have the loan to purchase your house. Your lender has gone through the detailed process of reviewing your income, assets, credit history and other relevant information to see if you fully qualify for the loan. Usually, there is little or no cost to get pre-approved by mortgage companies. The advantages are many when you get the pre-approval first.

Sticking To Your Budget: When you go shopping for a house, you will have a set budget based on the amount you have been approved on your mortgage. This will help you stay within what you can comfortably afford and not stretch your finances too thin.

More Negotiating Power: If the seller knows you have been pre-approved, he or she will be more willing to negotiate with you. They won’t have to worry about the transaction not going through because you did not get the mortgage. Because you are dealing from a position of strength, you can probably lower their asking prices by a few thousand dollars.

No Time Is Wasted: You will not be wasting your time shopping for houses that you won’t be able to get a mortgage on. Besides, most good real estate agents will not show you homes until you are pre-approved. They don't want to waste your, their, or the seller's time.

Don’t: Abide by verbal agreements
Always remember in any dispute, written contracts always carry more weight than verbal agreements. For example, if the realtor mentions that the light fixtures are included with the home but is not put in the contract—the written contract will always override the verbal contract.

Don’t: Blindly going to a lender that is referred to by a realtor.
We earn our commission once the transaction is closed. We can help with recommendations, but you should always shop around yourself. Always do your research before committing yourself to a lender. You should be shopping for a loan with at least three mortgage companies before you make a decision. Getting better terms will translate to thousands of dollar savings over the life of your mortgage. Ask me for advice or questions you may have regarding financing.

Don’t: Automatically go to the lender with the lowest rate and also not getting a written good-faith estimate.
The quoted APR (Annual Percentage Rate) by a prospective lender is not the only consideration to go by. You must ask the lender what fees were included in the calculation of the APR. Fees can be appraisals, Private mortgage insurance and loan processing. The one that quoted the lowest APR might not include all the required fees in processing the loan. If you do sign with that particular lender, you might be paying unforeseen fees or learn that you will be paying extra points. You might not be getting the best rate after all.

To compare rates, you should ask for a written GFE (Good Faith Estimate) of closing costs from several lenders before submitting your application. With a few GFEs to compare, you can learn what fees are incorporated and find out which lender is more forthcoming regarding the costs of your transaction. The lowest APR is not always the best rate but the lenders that are most thorough in disclosing their fees. Usually within 3 business days after receipt of your completed loan application, your mortgage company is required to provide you with a written good-faith estimate (GFE) of closing costs.

There is no substitute for asking friends and family for referrals and for interviewing prospective lenders. You must be comfortable with the loan officer and their institution that you will be dealing with and know they are working in your best interest. The cost of the mortgage is not your only criteria.

Do: If you’re getting a rate lock, get it in writing.
When your mortgage company informs you they have locked your rate, get a written statement specifying the interest rate.

Do: Use professional inspectors when buying a home, never take the seller’s word that repairs have been made.
Inspection reports will protect you from paying out for any unforeseen repairs after you purchased the house. These reports will highlight repairs that might have to be done on the property. Using these reports, you can negotiate for better pricing or have the seller do the repairs. There are property, roof and termite inspections.

After the seller agrees to do the repairs, make sure your inspector verify that the work is completed prior to close of escrow. Never assume that everything will be done as indicated.

If you are buying a new home, you won’t require the service of a professional inspector since you are with warranties on most equipment.

Don’t: Waiting right before the closing to start shopping for home insurance.
The moment your offer is accepted, start shopping for insurance. This will give you time to find the best rates and conditions.

Do: Read the documents before signing them.
As soon as you can, review the documents you’ll be signing at close of escrow, including copies of all loan documents. By doing these, you can highlight certain points and have your questions answered promptly. If you sign the documents in a hurry, you probably won’t get this opportunity.

Don’t: Assume moving plans go like clock work, plan for possible delays.
There is nothing worse than being caught in a bind where you don’t have any contingency plans. These situations will cost you money and grief.

Imagine a scenario; it's Friday afternoon and you are moving from your current residence to your new home over the weekend. Everything is packed and the new people are moving to your old residence the same day. What would you do if you found out that morning the home transaction got delayed because your loan was not processed on time. The deal will close the following Wednesday and not on your moving day. So what would you do???

To avoid this situation, please ensure that all mortgage documents are in place, at your lawyers office well in advance of the closing date.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Typcial closing costs when buying a home

Consider closing costs when buying a home
Read about all the closing costs when you buy a home here

Buying your first home is an exciting process. You determined how much home you can afford, you saved your down payment, you and your REALTOR found the perfect home and your offer was accepted. While the purchase price of your home is the largest cost you will encounter, there are other costs to prepare for when buying a home.

It’s a good idea to budget some extra cash to cover the cost of obtaining a mortgage and “closing” your real estate transaction. Here are some of the extra cost items you should consider:

Appraisal fee
Mortgage lenders will usually loan a percentage of the home’s purchase price or the market appraisal of the property, whichever is lower. The appraisal is either done by someone on the lender’s staff or by an outside professional approved

Monday, December 19, 2005

New Feature! See all my Mississauga and GTA listings on Google Maps

I have just added all of my listings to google maps. Now you can see where my listings are located on the map as well as have direct links to more details and pictures of all my listings. See the new google map page here

Friday, December 16, 2005

Public Open houses on my listings for Saturday and Sunday December 17th and 18th

You may see that I am having 5 open houses this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Please follow these linkgs to see the Public Open Houses on my listings this weekend - Saturday & Sunday December 10th and 11th, see them all here or quick list here

These will be the last public open houses for this year.

I wish you and your family all the best over the holidays and a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Lawyer Joke suitable for the Christmas season

Courtesy of Stu's Cartoons

What would life be without a little lawyer bashing at this festive time of year. I sent this to my lawyer and he was mildly amused.

"Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an honest lawyer and an old drunk are walking down the street together when they simultaneously spot a hundred dollar bill. Who gets it? The old drunk, of course, the other three are mythological creatures."

Being an Engineer, I found this funny.

A lawyer and an engineer were fishing in the Caribbean. The lawyer, wanting to start a conversation with the gentleman next to him, said "I'm here 'cause my house burned down and everything I owned was destroyed by the fire. The insurance company paid for everything." "That's quite a coincidence," said the engineer, "I'm here 'cause my house and all my belongings were destroyed by a flood, and my insurance company also paid for everything." The lawyer pondered the engineer's plight for a moment and, looking somewhat confused, asked, "How do you start a flood?"

And finally, another good lawyer joke...

A man walked into a lawyer's office and inquired about the lawyer's rates. "$50.00 for three questions," replied the lawyer. "Isn't that kinda steep?", asked the man while dolling out the $50.00. "Yes," answered the lawyer, "what's your third question?"

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What you can do to improve your bottom line while your home is being shown to a prospective buyer.

This page shows you what you can do to improve your bottom line while your home is being shown to a prospective buyer.
How to Help Agents when they are Showing Your Home
Let the agent sell your home. It is usually much better if you are not there during the showing, the prospective buyers can talk openly with the agent, who is well versed in handling objections and calming nerves.

Children, pets and adults can keep buyers from feeling at ease while they look through a home. For showings, please be out of the house if possible.

Turn off the television and stereo, even background music can be distracting.

Turn on all lights for the entire showing. Open drapes in the daytime, close them at night.

Strong cooking or smoking odors can ruin a sale. Make sure your home is fresh for showings. Create pleasant aromas by opening windows, putting out fresh flowers, or baking bread or cookies a bit before the showing.

Have a lock box installed and leave your home in "ready to show condition" whenever possible.

Use an answering machine or another message system available so messages can be left regarding appointments.

Make sure that the feature sheets of your home are left in a conspicuous place. If your supply is getting low, let me know and I will drop some more off.

Remove and replace major items not included in the sale if you feel this is necessary - you don't have to remove small things - e.g.: dining room chandelier or the occasional window covering

Often it is difficult for Agents to schedule appointments precisely. Expect Agents one half hour either way of the scheduled appointment time.

If your for sale sign is vandalized or dislodges, please let me know right away and I will have it corrected.

Be sure to put valuables away. Although theft problems are extremely rare, you are always better safe than sorry.

Of course, there are " Mark's 5 WRITTEN Guarantees " just in case you are not convinced yet that Mark is the right Agent for you!

Here is the complete list of 79 ideas and suggestions to get you more money when you sell with more tips on what to do before and during a showing :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Real Estate Glossary of Terms and Definitions

You will find some common and not so common terms used in real estate in Ontario, Canada and in the United States. I hope you find this useful. If you have any questions or require further information, please email me.

Real Estate in Mississauga Complete Real Estate Glossary at my website

Friday, December 09, 2005

Public Open houses on my listings this Saturday and Sunday

You may see that I am having 5 open houses this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Please follow these linkgs to see the Public Open Houses on my listings this weekend - Saturday & Sunday December 10th and 11th, see them all here or quick list here

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What is the Importance of a home inspection?

A home inspection prior to purchasing a home or condominium can bring peace of mind when you sign the sales contract. Knowing what to expect both inside and out will help you make an informed decision about the value of the home and the future upkeep.

A home inspection accomplishes two important goals. First, it gives you a chance to determine the condition of the house, its structural soundness, and the condition of its mechanical systems. Second, it brings any problems to the seller's attention at a time when they can be resolved before closing a sale.

If you sign a contract before inspection, consider including a clause that the sale is conditional upon a satisfactory structural inspection, and specify when the inspection is to be carried out. That way, you are protected.

What do they do?
A comprehensive inspection includes a visual examination of the structure from top to bottom, including the heating, air conditioning systems, the interior plumbing and electrical systems, the roof and visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors, the foundation, basement and visible structure.

Following the examination, the inspector will provide a report that not only points out possible defects or areas of concerns, but also the positive aspects of the structure as well as the type of maintenance that will be necessary to keep the home in good shape.

Even the most experienced homeowners lack the knowledge and expertise of a professional inspection firm. For example, watermarks in the basement may indicate a chronic seepage problem, or simply may be a result of a single incident.

A professional assessment will provide complete information about the condition of the property you are considering and will help avoid any unpleasant surprises after the sale. In addition, a home inspector can remain totally objective, while you as a prospective home buyer may be emotionally involved.

The inspection fee for a typical single-family house can vary depending upon the geographic area. The particular features of the home such as size, age and special structures will be taken into consideration. A decision to have a home inspected is a good investment. You might save many times the cost of inspection by being aware of defects, maintenance requirements, and upgrading requirements. In our area home inspection fees are approximately $300 and up, plus GST, of course.

Good decorating should not sell you on a house. Remember, you're also buying structural and mechanical systems. Walk through a house twice before you hire an inspector. The first time, look at the rooms, the floor plan, and envision your own decorating ideas for the house. The second time, go back and look at the condition of the walls, doors, appliance, and plumbing. If the home still looks good after two visits and you're getting serious about the purchase, hire an inspector.

Inspectors should be licensed in building-related fields; architects, contractors, and structural engineers are good examples. When interviewing a potential home inspection firm, carefully inquire about the specifics of their work and company. Ask how long they have been in business, ask for references from previous customers. Find out what type of insurance they carry and do they guarantee inspections?

What will I get?
A home inspection usually lasts about three hours. Professional inspection companies will be happy to answer all your questions. Avoid firms that issue only a verbal report. The report should be in narrative form, not just a checklist of items inspected. The home inspector should also issue a written report with accurate cost estimates for any major defects discovered during the inspection. You may find it valuable to accompany the inspector as he goes through the house.

Property inspections are not limited to residential properties. Many inspectors help homeowners with analysis and solutions to specific problems such as energy conservation, wet basements or cracked foundations. Inspectors also inspect work upon completion to ensure that a contract has been properly fulfilled.

If you are considering purchasing a home, the Ontario Real Estate Association (and Mark) advises that you invest in an inspection by a reputable and qualified inspection firm. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make. Know what you are buying and what your future upkeep obligations will be.
Read more about home inspectors at my website

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Five properties all on open house today in Mississauga

I am having 5 open houses on 5 of my listings this weekend on Sunday December 4th from 2-4 pm, see them all here
Thank you and have a nice day!