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Looking to Buy a House ?

Here are my Top Four Tips for Buyers 

- Figure out your priorities : It’s important to know what is most important to you and your family when it comes to purchasing a house. To some buyers it is the budget, while to others it is the location. If you are looking to be in a good school district, then do not look at homes where the schools are not rated highly, and if you are looking to have an easy commute to work, don’t look at houses which will add extra driving time. It is important to be focussed in your approach, as it will save you valuable time and a whole lot of effort. 

- Talk to a Lender : Even if you are hesitant about getting preapproved, it is always good to start a dialogue with a lender, even if it is the bank where you have your account to see what the whole shebang is all about. This is especially important for first time home buyers, who are going to experience the home buying process for the first time. It is advisable to discuss your finances with your lender to see how much house you can easily buy within your budget. 

- Understand the market: I feel that there is a house out there for everyone, we just have to go find it. And when we do, I prepare my buyers to make a “qualified” offer. It is important for buyers to understand the market before making an offer. In a downward trend market, it may not be a bad idea to come in lower than the list price and leave room for negotiations. However, in a hot market not only is the price important but so are the terms of the offer. Therefore a buyer who understands the market has a higher probability of getting the home of their dreams, than someone who just wants to “test” their offer and the market. 

- Stay on Top of Everything : After you have found your house, make sure that you follow the timelines given in the contract. Every aspect of the contract stipulates that “time is of the essence”, so if you have to drop off an earnest money check within 48 hrs, or have to get your papers to a lender within the next three days, make sure that you do not delay. This will ensure that you minimize delays and are able to close on time. 

Aug. 12, 2019

Should I buy a New Construction or a Resale house?

Finding your dream house is not as simple as a wish upon a star. Rather, finding your house is a journey: with many interwoven facets and assets to consider before making your final decision. Things such as mortgage rates, interest rates, schools, buses, cities, neighbors, and so much more are just the beginnings of a winding list that can seriously narrow down your home hunt. However, one of the most important concepts to cover is what kind of market you are looking into. Existing houses are houses that have been previously lived in and are therefore up for resale. New houses are built typically around the time they are made and feature their new host as their first host. Both of these options house their fair share of pros and cons, so let’s examine a few before making the final call:

 

Cost benefits

It should come as no surprise that something that is technically for “resale” is cheaper than something brand new. However, the amount of difference between the two can be shocking. New houses, and especially new houses in new communities are at their peak selling price. Everything is new, freshly built, and assumedly top of the line making the asking price jump. Comparatively, a resale house has already been lived in, and thus has some of the attributes of being previously lived in. It is however

important to note that this is not a constant. Some new communities are going for incredibly cheap  prices, and other existing homes have been upgraded enough to come close or even exceed their initial pricing. Cost is one of the most important aspects to consider, but it is also the one that fluctuates the  most. Be sure to do proper research on both of the homes of interest before assuming one will always outsell the other.

 

Community

When buying a resale house, you will be more familiar with what to expect. All the layout is available for you to see during the tour, and all your future neighbors are just a doorbell away. Buying in an established community means you have the luxury of knowing exactly what you are getting. Both in terms of the house, and all its surrounding assets. During the tour, be sure to note any appliances that are staying as well as the general structure of the house and whether you like the layout. It is also a good idea to gauge the area in which you are buying. Since it is not a new community, you will be able to see how life works around you from the first impression. Things such as lawn maintenance, zoning issues, fencing, and neighbors all come prepackaged, as well as any first notes about things you will want to upgrade in the future.

 

In new developments, it is more up in the air of what the finished product will be. While you will have the newest build and therefore the most up to date structuring, it is a little harder to gauge how all these moving parts will fit together. For example, you may know your own background dimensions but your neighbor’s backyard could be on higher ground and therefore spill over during the rainy season to cause some serious damage. Here, it is harder to understand what effect the community will have on the individual. However, buying into a new community means you have the privilege of starting out on a fresh foot with people who are in the same boat as you. Everybody here will be new to the neighborhood, and therefore experience the same learning curve and community betterment at closer speeds than a community of resellers.

 

Upgrades

For the most part, new homes are associated with having the most modern stylings. They are often found to be heavily influenced by the newest developments in build, layout, and further furbishing. Typical modern architectural developments include: additional bathrooms, spacious closest, and bigger kitchens although sometimes this forfeits the space for a dining room. This by now means transcends all new developments, it is however something important to consider and ask about if you are in the process of buying a new home and have serious preferences to layouts. The traditional styling, while an influence, will not be featured as heavily as a house made in the time period it is meant to reflect.

 

Older homes are typically byproducts of the specific homeowner’s upgrades. They are also known to follow the more traditional styling of homes which include a spacious living and dining room. However, with an existing home even if the layout is already predetermined, there is always the opportunity for independent upgrades later on. Sometimes it is actually monetarily beneficial to buy a ‘fixer upper’, but that is only if you are willing to put in the time and money it takes to get your new home up to your ideal standards. If you are looking for a home that is perfect upon move in date, it may be in your interest to buy a new construction item rather than an existing building.

 

Location

Although this is not an exclusive constant, generally speaking new communities are built further from the idealized ‘central’ suburbia. In theory, all of the prime space closer to the cities have already been  developed, so new communities tend to stray farther from the school or area of interest. It is also important to note that while your house may be finished with construction and ready to move in, the rest of the neighborhood might not be. This means you could be potentially living in a construction zone for a year or so until the dust finally settles. And if it is a part of a larger extension community, then even longer. Here, you have to be ready to wait it out if you are settled on a new house. In comparison, an existing house will have already gone through all these stages and the surrounding area will remain more or less the same from move in date to the succeeding months.

Posted in Buying a House
Aug. 12, 2019

Do I REALLY need an Agent?

Have no fear, an Agent is here ! 

 

It crosses the minds of new buyers at least once during the processing and fees: Do I really need a real estate agent? With all the books, e-books, articles, and guides out there, is there really information that only real estate agents will know? Quick answer: yes! But that doesn’t really provide enough information to get you in the market to find one. The internet can be wildly helpful in providing information otherwise unattainable that can make any first time buyer feel like an expert. But the top professionals all come with experience. Licensed real estate agents are practiced and proficient in just about every situation that could arise, and works with you to get the best deal, home, and specifications to your liking. Still don’t believe it? Check out some of these top reasons to use a real estate agent when buying a house:

Is it required by law?

Technically speaking, you are not required to have a real estate agent when buying a house. Most people do, as well as most sellers, but it is not impossible to go about it without one. However, in some states, to close a housing deal you must have a real estate agent present to preside over all the paperwork. It varies from state to state, so before you close out on the notion of ‘I don’t need one by law’ check your specific state for any real estate laws you should know. Without knowing to check for it, you may not have known until the final moments at all. Which actually brings us to the first important thing that a real estate agent can do for you: Know the rules, terminology, and law attached to your home buying endeavor.

Licensed real estate agents know what to look for

What may seem like a really good deal in a white picket fence neighborhood could be wildly out of an appropriate price range. Real estate agents have access to things like market conditions. Data like average pricing in the area per square foot, what other similar houses are going for, and a wide variety of other statistics that are hard to obtain if you’re in the general public. They also have intimate knowledge with the types of neighborhoods in the area. Such as where the best schools are, whether or not flooding is an issue, or if the neighbors just moved their fraternity in. While you can surely find out the specific things you care about, there are also details you’re sure to overlook that will only become a problem after the fact. So plan ahead! Real estate agents have their ear to the neighborhood trends year round.

Buying mistakes

As people who have seen it all, real estate agents will be able to steer you away from any rookie mistakes. Things you otherwise wouldn’t even know were risky choices, or things that openly show you are a first time buyer. Real estate agents are the link into the world of experience when it comes to buying a home, and are there to work with you towards your goal. Regardless of whether or not you yourself have a real estate agent, you’ll be paying for one anyway. Houses are priced to include the costs of whoever is in charge of selling it. So if the people on the other side of the deal have a knowledgeable and experienced realtor, it evens out the playing field if you do too.

Negotiation skills

While you may consider yourself someone who drives a hard bargain, brokering deals is literally a real estate agents job. They know how much to push, or when to just walk away and they know what to say to the real estate agent in charge of selling the house. There are probably terms and conditions you will not know or understand, which then will fall to the real estate agent to weigh and bring back to you in better terms.

Saving time

Not only will this shift the majority of paper work duty to someone else’s pencil, but this means you have someone who is consistently looking out for your new home even when you aren’t. Real life means you can’t always be refreshing the house-finding page, and whether it be work, school, or both there will be times when this isn’t your number one priority. Real estate agents are constantly looking into new leads, getting details, estimating pricing, and a plethora of other helpful actions that help filter the dirt from the gold. Otherwise, you’ll be looking through houses that mean little to none of your criteria and filtering them down one by one. This way, you’ll only get the list of the highest matches (and therefore probabilities) making the time you spend searching drastically decreased.

Finding a real estate agent

Ready to find your own? Great! However there are a few quick things to address before the fact. Number one, don’t just call the agent on the listing. As mentioned previously, they are working for the seller, meaning they are most likely looking to sell at the highest possible price. You however, are looking for the lowest price, and the agent may not put in all the effort to get that. Find your own real estate agent so that they can hash out the details and even the experience playing field a little bit.

Number two: put some research into it! We’re not talking evidence boards with red string type research, but rather look into what other buyers have been saying about your potential agent. Do they have a long response time? Are they friendly, and willing to go the extra mile? Are they a really great negotiator? There are thousands of real estate agents out there and while most may be good, you are looking to find the one that is a perfect fit. Call around, meet with as many potential agents as you want, and find the realtor who I going to find you your dream house.

Posted in Buying a House
Feb. 27, 2018

Appraisal

       

 

Introduction:

An appraisal is a critical part of real estate. If you are planning to buy a house and get it financed by a mortgage lender, you WILL require an appraisal. This appraisal will determine the value of the home, and the mortgage lender will accordingly approve funding, provided you have met all other approval criteria.  

Who Pays for the Appraisal? 

Since it is the lender who is financing the house, they order the appraisal, but it is you, as the Buyer, who pays for it. Typically an appraisal costs $300-$500 and should be factored in by the buyer when budgeting for the house.

Who does the Appraisal? 

The appraisal is done by a professional, called an Appraiser. Usually an appraisal is done after the house is under contract, and within the appraisal contingency period. The appraiser takes into account the condition of your house, and compares it to similar homes or “comparables” that have recently sold in your area. 

What does this mean to you, as a Buyer? 

For the buyer an appraisal will help determine where their offer stands in respect to the value of the house. It safeguards you, as a buyer, from offering more than the real value of the house. For example if you have your dream home under contract for $450,000, but the appraisal came in at 430,000, it means that you have offered offered $20,000 more than what the bank will approve. In this case you would have to renegotiate the offer price with the seller. However if the house appraises for 480,000, it means that you have built-in equity in the property, and are getting a good deal :)

What does this mean to you, as a Seller?

Since an appraisal can affect the value of your home, it is important for you, as a Seller to be in the know of what the comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood. This will allow your agent to price your home for sale accordingly. Thus, when faced with a multiple offer situation on your well-priced home, you will know to choose a solid offer, based on strong terms, rather than the highest offer, because you would already be aware of what the appraised value would be. This will negate any appraisal based issues you could have had as you head towards closing. 

The appraisal is by no means an exact science, as no two homes are exactly the same. It is an educated guess by a professional to determine the current value of the property, but because of the role it plays for the lender and the buyer is a critical step in the real estate industry.  

Posted in Buying a House
Feb. 11, 2018

How to Handle Multiple Offers?

With the schools winding down, warmer weather on the horizon and interest rates still fairly low, the market is heating up and this could mean that the dreaded multiple offer scenario might rear its head more often than not.  If you are lucky then yours might be the winning bid, but faced with so many unknowns, how many other buyers are you competing against, what their offers are, how does your offer measure in comparison, it is always advisable to put your best foot forward when you come face-to-face with a multiple offer scenario.  Here are a few tips to increase your chances of winning the home of your dreams. 

Send in a crisp contract: If you ask for everything including the proverbial kitchen sink, chances are the seller will not be able to get a clear picture of your offer, since they may be too entangled shifting through the contingencies and stipulations. Also, keep in mind it will be the sellers agent who will be presenting your offer, not you and not your agent, so make sure you present a clean offer.

Go easy on the terms : There may always be a possibility that your offer price may be higher that the other buyers, but if your terms are inconvenient, chances are that your offer may get overlooked. For example, if your lender can close in 30-45 days do not extend the closing date to 60 days. If you're confident that your financing will take 21 days, do not put 30 days for the financing on the appraisal contingencies. Your offer will be taken seriously if you present a serious offer. 

Send in your offer with a pre-qualification, or better still, a pre-approval letter. This will let the seller know that you have done your homework and are ready with the paperwork. 

Submit a LARGER earnest money deposit along with the offer: The earnest money is going to be either part of YOUR closing costs or a part of YOUR down payment. So it will come back to you. Keeping this in mind, if you submit an offer with a higher than normal earnest money, chances for your offer will be taken seriously are higher, because the seller will understand that you are serious about the house.

Cash is King :  If you have a cash offer you are already ahead of the game. Sellers are more likely to accept cash offers, even if they not be as high as the financed offers, as cash buyers neither ask for a financing nor an appraisal contingency. They have shorter due-diligence periods and are able to close within 10 days or less. Also all-cash offers typically DO NOT ask for closing costs saving the seller money, time and the anxiety of whether the buyer will get approved for the loan.  

Keep in mind that it is easy to get caught up in the bidding war. Before you send in yet another updated offer, talk to your agent to request the seller's agent to call for the Highest and Best. This will give you ONE opportunity to calmly gather your thoughts and finances and put your best foot forward. 

And don't forget to say a little prayer!

Posted in Buying a House
Feb. 10, 2018

Things to Do in the Area

Top Reviewed Restaurants on Yelp

Fun things to do in the area: 

Playground Crawl: Atlanta has some of the best playgrounds in Georgia and when the weather it would be fun to explore all the playgrounds that the Atlanta area has to offer. Here is the link to the top 30 playgrounds in the Atlanta area, some of which are perfect to host birthday parties at. 

Library Crawl : Spend time discovering the libraries in and around the Atlanta area to see which library matches your personality. With so many fun and mostly free activities and workshops for children and adults, libraries are turning up the volume on fun. 

Eating in the Downtowns:  Not only does Atlanta have a downtown, there are downtown's in the suburbs !! Alpharetta, Roswell, Marietta and John’s Creek boast wonderful restaurants and, if you are lucky, food truck days as well, for the foodie in you. During the Summer and Fall, Restaurant Week in Atlanta and the suburban towns light up the food scene, allowing patrons to choose from a prix-fixe menu at some of their favorite restaurants.  

Ice skating at Avalon, Alpharetta & Atlantic Station, Atlanta: Come December, along with Lighting of the Tree, Avalon and Atlantic Station set up ice-skating rinks, and offer skate rentals as well. It is definitely a family friendly activity, which is enjoyed by all ages. 

Events at Fox Theatre, Atlanta Symphony Hall and Verizon Theatre:  There are events always happening at a myriad of  performing arts venue around Atlanta, some definitely more economical than the others, and these three venues always offer top-notch acts from all over the nation as well as internationally.   

Posted in Yelp can Help!
Jan. 31, 2018

Why Should I Buy a New House?

Should I Buy a New Construction ?   

Who wouldn't love to come home to a new house smell? With so many new constructions coming up in the North Atlanta area, buyers are spoilt for choice, now more than ever. With the growing demand comes in a growth in supply. There has been a boost to home sales in the area spurred by sales of newly constructed townhouses this past year.

Custom builders as well as production houses are attracting buyers with a slew of floor plans, financing, amenities and upgrade options. 

Buyers are welcoming the opportunity of living in "greener" homes, as new housing standards have mandated energy efficient appliances, windows, roofing among other features to keep energy bills low.

Custom homes allow the Buyer to partner up with the Builder in customizing their next home : from choosing a lot, getting a floor plan designed by an architect to selecting floorings and fixtures. 

On the other hand, production home builders such as Pulte Homes, D.R.Horton, Century Communities, already have available lots, usually in a subdivision they are building out, they also have pre-selected floor plans which will fit on those lots.

The buyer can go to the builder's Design Center and choose the flooring, cabinets, and fixtures from a variety of options pre-selected by the builders Design Team.

Most builders have Preferred Lenders who offer incentives which can be used towards closing costs,. For example D.R. Horton has DHI Mortgage. The Preferred Lenders make the buying process smooth, pre-approving the buyer and giving an estimate of how much the home will cost pretty much immediately as they work very closely with the builder and already know what the price ranges are in the subdivision. 

Another reason why new construction is so appealing is because of the wholesome warranty offered with it. New homes, typically require fewer repairs than an older house which has endured wear and tear, but coupled with the builders home warranty program make them more appealing for buyers looking for an executive living. The duration of these warranties differ from builder to builder but can be for as long as 10 year for a structural warranty.

 

 If you are in the market looking for a new construction, do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

Posted in Buying a House
July 17, 2017

What are Closing Costs?

Closing costs are the costs associated with buying a property. In case the property is being financed it would include lender fees, attorney fees, property taxes paid upfront, homeowner’s insurance, title insurance, underwriting fees, title search and recording fees. In case of an all-cash transaction, all the fees except for the lender associated fees are included. 

Typically in Fulton and Forsyth counties, the closings costs range from 2.5%-3% of the purchase price, for a lender financed transaction. An all-cash transaction would be about $1200 plus any taxes and homeowners insurance fees.  

Sometimes sellers may offer to pay all the closing costs or split the closing costs with the buyers whereas some lenders may offer lender credits which would help the buyer reduce their settlement fees on the closing day. 

Meesha’s Tip: Talk to the lender about the closing costs before making an offer so that the amount, or a portion of it, can be factored in.   

Posted in Buying a House
July 17, 2017

Relocating to Atlanta?

Did you know that Atlanta  : 

- Is Affordable : The dollar goes a LOT further here - whether it is buying a house or groceries at the local farmer’s market, you will see that this area is easy on your pocket. 

- Is Diverse : With its rich history and a hub for corporates and businesses the demographics is a fluid mix of people from all over the world.  

- Has Great Schools : From Lake Windward Elementary to Pope High School, the schools in this area pride themselves for their high academic excellence and involved PTO’s. 

- Is Fun : Atlanta is home to Atlantic Station, Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market, Avalon, mixed-use developments that are slowly becoming Atlanta's crown jewel. Atlanta boasts some of the top rated restaurants and shopping in the area including Ecco, Two Urban Licks, So Kong Dong Tofu House, Nori Nori and Rumi’s Kitchen among others. 

- Is a Huge Business Hub: Many companies such as Coca-Cola, NCR, Home Depot, AT&T, ADP, Cox Communication, Verizon, Fiserv, IBM and MetLife call Atlanta home. These corporates have boosted the economy of Atlanta & surrounding towns. Atlanta is a huge technology center with many IT SMBs setting up shop here to take advantage of the huge local talent pool and low cost of setting up business. 

Posted in Yelp can Help!
Jan. 31, 2017

Real Estate Tips for Buyers and Sellers

      

 

Selling a house can be challenging, and with so much information out there, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Here is a short video which simplifies the home selling process. 

Have questions? Call me at (401) 369 1110 and I will be happy to help answer them.  

 

Posted in Selling a House