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St. Croix Real Estate
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Category: For Buyers

Tips for home buyers.

What To Do When Your Mortgage Gets Sold

mortgage soldOne day you may get a letter in the mail that says your mortgage has been sold. Don’t panic. You haven’t done anything wrong. But there are some things to be aware of when dealing with a new lender.

Why Mortgages Are Sold

To a bank, your mortgage is just another financial asset. The decision to sell your mortgage had nothing to do with you.

“Lenders will often sell mortgages in order to free up capital for future lending,” said Sam Sharp, vice president of mortgage lending for the home loan company Guaranteed Rate.

Dealing With Your New Lender

If a lender sells your mortgage, the law requires that you be notified within 15 days of the sale. You should receive two letters, one from your old lender and one from your new lender. These letters should provide you with all the information you will need to communicate with the new lender, including where and how to make your payments. Be sure to send all future payments to the address the new lender gives you. A new lender does not have the right to change the terms of your mortgage, so your payment amount should not change.

The Grace Period

What if you send a payment to your old lender by mistake? Not to worry. One of the stipulations made under the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act, or RESPA, protects you against penalties for a limited amount of time after the mortgage transfer.

After your mortgage is sold, there is a 60-day grace period during which the new lender cannot charge a late fee on payment, if you mistakenly sent that payment to the old lender. This two-month grace period “protects the borrower in case there is any miscommunication or a delay in the notification,” Sharp said.

If you are late due to sending the payment to your old lender, the new lender may not report it to any credit agency. Your loan cannot be deemed delinquent during this grace period, either.

Look for Errors

Transferring your mortgage to a new company may sound like it’s an opportunity for errors. While Sharp says this generally doesn’t happen, to be safe, go over your mortgage statement from your new lender and compare it to your old one. In the event that something looks different or you spot a discrepancy, you should write a complaint letter to the new lender, disputing it. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a sample of aqualified written request you may want to use as a model for yours. According to the law, the lender must respond to you within 20 business days, and if there is an issue needing resolution, act within 60 business days.

If for some reason the new lender is not responsive, Sharp says to “contact the previous loan servicer to report the issue.” If you’re really not getting anywhere, lodge a complaint with theConsumer Financial Protection Bureau. Companies are required to respond within 15 days to both you and the CFPB.

Keep in mind that your mortgage may be sold several times during your mortgage-paying period. Conversely, it may never be sold again. There’s no sure way of telling, but don’t let that worry you. Just keep making your monthly payments on your mortgage and you will be fine.

Source: www.realtor.com

Home Inspection Advice

Your home purchase is one of the biggest investments of your life, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying. The best way to ensure this is through a professional, thorough home inspection.

(NOTE: While this material speaks primarily to buyers, it’s also a good idea for sellers to do an inspection prior to listing their home).

Why You Need a Home Inspection

In your excitement to buy a home, it’s easy to miss a small crack in the foundation, some leaky pipes under the house, or a roof that needs to be replaced.

The sellers worked hard to make the home look as desirable as possible, but looks don’t tell the whole story. That’s where your home inspection comes in.

What about inspections for sellers?
For sellers, a home inspection is also a good idea prior to listing the home for sale. An inspection can help you turn up issues ahead of time so there will be no surprises when serious buyers start inquiring. Knowing in advance means you’ll be able to consider all your options – either making repairs before listing or pricing your home to account for anything you’re not going to fix.

What does a home inspection include?
A general home inspection will evaluate the house and adjoining structures from top to bottom, inside and out, including but not limited to:

Outsidehouse_inspected
Roof, porches, driveways, garage, drainage, retaining walls, grading, and plants or vegetation that may impact the home’s condition

Inside
Electrical and plumbing systems; foundation; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; water heater, septic system, electrical system, windows, doors, floors, ceilings and walls

What a home inspection doesn’t cover
The home inspector can’t make any alterations in the course of inspecting a home – so there’s no digging up the ground, lifting carpets, knocking out walls, etc.

Also consider that a home comprises tens of thousands of parts, pieces, nooks and crannies. An inspector will look at a representative sampling, but there’s simply no way to check every single element.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Many home inspectors know about major appliance recalls, but do your own research by noting model numbers and then checking for trouble online.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip:If an area of the house is not accessible because of barricades, such as boxes piled in front of a door, request that the seller remove these to allow for a thorough inspection.

Specialized Inspections
When Do You Need One?
Some states and cities require additional inspections on top of a general inspection. Beyond that, you may just want a specialized inspection due to a special circumstance or particular concern you or your general inspector may have.

Examples of specialized inspections:
• Sewer inspection
• Mold inspection
• Lead inspection
• Asbestos inspection
• Pest inspection
• Inspection of a special feature such as swimming pool or hot tub

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: Check with your agent to see which inspections are required in your area and which may not be required, but are standard.

RE/MAX Home Inspection Tip: If a home inspector tells you not to attend the inspection, find someone else. This is a classic red flag.

Source : www.remax.com

Seven Mistakes Home Buyers Make and to Avoid Them

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The rules of real estate have changed over the past five years. On the one hand, affordability is hovering at all-time high levels, interest rates remain low and there are a large number of homes to choose from. The bad news? Lending practices are tighter and creative financing is, well, a little less creative due to strict regulations. Still, buyer power for those looking to purchase a home is incredible, and there are some great opportunities in this market. If you’re looking to get into a home soon, be sure you know the mistakes buyers make and how to avoid them. Here are the top seven.

1. Holding onto your home. Before you begin the home search process, sell the one you’re in. Chances are its going to take longer than you expect to find a buyer because of stricter lending practices and current market conditions. The last thing you want is the added financial responsibility of carrying a second mortgage while you try to sell your home.

2. Not addressing your credit score. Stand around the real estate water cooler and you’ll hear one thing: Credit markets and lending practices are tighter than ever. This means you must have an excellent credit score to secure financing at a low interest rate. You’re allowed to pull your credit score at no cost to you. Request yours, and then take the necessary steps to fix any lingering issues that could affect your ability to secure financing.

3. Skipping the pre qualification and pre approval processes. One of the biggest mistakes buyers make is not knowing how much they can afford. By getting pre qualified AND pre approved you walk into the home search process knowing the exact amount of money you can spend. This narrows your search, lessening the time it takes to find a home that fits your individual needs. That also gives you more time to spend in the homes that could potentially be yours down the road. Pre approval also gives you big buying power during the negotiating process since sellers can’t reject your offer based on unavailable financing. The bottom line: Once you have your credit in check talk to your trusted lender to get pre qualified AND pre approved.

4. Not knowing when to stay and when to walk away. It’s worth repeating: buyers have more power than ever during the negotiating process. Don’t be afraid to make a low offer on the home. But don’t make the mistake of walking away because of a few thousand dollars. Think about it this way: a few thousand dollars could translate to less than $100 a month on your mortgage.

5. Not knowing the total costs involved. Some buyers, especially first-timers, aren’t entirely aware of the costs associated with buying a home. These include: closing costs, title insurance and lawyer fees as well as ongoing costs such as property taxes, homeowners association dues, utilities and yard maintenance. When you first begin shopping for a home, always ask your real estate agent and mortgage representative to provide you with an average amount of additional closing costs so that you can work them into your budget.

6. Signing contracts with contingencies. This is a critical mistake that could end up costing you big bucks. For example, avoid signing any contracts that allow the seller to stay in the home for an extended period of time. Why? Depending on how long they stay, you run the risk of losing your interest rate. Or worse, the deal falls through the cracks and you’re back at square one: more listings. Bottom line: have your real estate agent review the contract and explain any and all contingencies so that you understand what you’re getting into.

7. Not purchasing a home protection plan. You never know what problems will arise once you purchase the home. Not protecting is a mistake and extremely costly when the problems are big. Be sure to purchase a home protection plan. This is essentially a mini insurance policy that usually lasts one year from the date of sale. It typically covers basic repairs you may encounter and can be purchased for a nominal fee. Talk to your agent to help you find the protection plan you need.

The best way to avoid any and all of these big buyer mistakes, is to work with a professional real estate agent. If you’re looking to buy in the near future, give me a call. I’ll walk you through every step of the home buying process so you have the most positive buying experience possible.

Recently Sold Properties – November 2012

 

 

23 Solitude -$1,675,000

Despite its over 11,000 total square feet, this magnificent waterfront estate retains an intimate feel with 5 perfectly adorned bedrooms. The location has stunning views from the infinity pool of Buck Island and the turquoise ocean beyond. Unrivaled craftsmanship is evident upon entering the custom gourmet kitchen and great room.

 

40 Prosperity – $775,000

Beautiful & private mountainside oasis! Main house has 3 large bedrooms, each w/full bath, lovely kitchen, huge living/dining area & breathtaking pool deck w/unbeatable views. Large covered patio space & entertaining area. Under the main house is a 1 bed/1 bath guest apartment.

 

 

24 Hermon Hill -$270,000

Perfect family home in a fabulous neighborhood. This energy efficient home has solar panels on the roof to make WAPA bills much less costly & nice hillside breezes to keep you comfortable. It boasts a great open floor plan, large master suite & bath, Cathedral ceilings throughout, gas stove, alarm system, storage room.

 

124 La Reine -$337,000

Lovely 3 bed, 3 bath house located near shopping areas, schools, and the hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

493 Strawberry -$168,000

GREAT STARTER HOME on fenced corner lot w/off-street electronic gate. Beautiful eat-in kitchen and bathroom, nice floors, modern lighting fixtures, high power split a/c that cools entire home, solar water heater, security system, stainless steel appliances, and much more.

 

 

47 Solitude -$295,000

Beautiful beachfront lot with white sand beach and a nice elevation from the water affording tropical breezes and views. Listen to the sound of the waves, walk along to the beach, it is the perfect island homesite. A wide path has been cut from the road to the beach so it is easy to see the gentle terrain of the lot.

 

 

122 Judith’s Fancy -$85,000

WHAT A DELIGHT! Build your dream home and enjoy a steady tradewind breeze off the Caribbean Sea and stunning sunrises. Breathtaking views in an excellent buildable lot. A great opportunity to purchase a lot in a gated and secured community.

 

 

73 Catherine’s Hope -$22,000

Enjoy beautiful views of the golf course, blue Caribbean sea and rolling green hills from this gently sloping homesite. Located in a quiet, East end neighborhood with paved roads, this lot is affordable and easy to build on. Close to beaches and restaurants.

 

 

 

Pros and cons of purchasing a condo

Condominiums and townhouses offer an affordable option to single-family homes in many markets, and they’re ideal for those who appreciate a maintenance-free lifestyle. But before you buy, make sure you do your legwork. These are some of the important elements to consider:

 

  • Storage. Some condos have storage lockers, but usually there are no attics or basements to hold extra belongings.
  • Outdoor space. Yards and outdoor areas are usually smaller in condos, so if you like to garden or entertain outdoors, this may not be a good fit. However, if you dread yard work, this may be the perfect option for you.
  • Amenities. Many condo properties have swimming pools, fitness centers, and other facilities that would be very expensive in a single-family home.
  • Maintenance. Many condos have onsite maintenance personnel to care for common areas, do repairs in your unit, and let in workers when you’re not home — good news if you like to travel.
  • Security. Keyed entries and even doormen are common in many condos. You’re also closer to other people in case of an emergency.
  • Reserve funds and association fees. Although fees generally help pay for amenities and provide savings for future repairs, you will have to pay the fees decided by the condo board, whether or not you’re interested in the amenity.
  • Resale. The ease of selling your unit may be dependent on what else is for sale in your building, since units are usually fairly similar.
  • Condo rules. Although you have a vote, the rules of the condo association can affect your ability to use your property. For example, some condos prohibit home-based businesses. Others prohibit pets, or don’t allow owners to rent out their units. Read the covenants, restrictions, and bylaws of the condo carefully before you make an offer.
  • Neighbors. You’re much closer to your neighbors in a condo or town home. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors.

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