Distress Sales and Bank Foreclosures

June 5th, 2020

Distress Sales & Bank Foreclosures

Distress Sales resulting from bank foreclosures often represent a great way to get a fantastic deal on a home. It’s not easy for the average homeowner to find these deals, because you have to keep scouring the paper to see when one comes up.

If you’re the type of person who recognizes what a great deal some of these properties could represent, you will be interested to know about a new free computerized service which automatically searches out and downloads a current list of all such properties day in and day out. When you receive this free, no obligation service, you’re automatically plugged in to the most current list of Foreclosure Properties on the market, in the price range and area that interests you. This FREE service every week will save you a lot of research and running around.

Here’s how it works. Every week, you will receive a FREE computerized report listing the current Foreclosure properties in your desired price range and location. There is no cost for this information, and absolutely no obligation. This insider information, sent to you in an incredibly simple and efficient format, will give you a huge advantage over other buyers in the marketplace.

You can request this free service by simply filling out the information on the form below including the specific price range and area you would like the “Foreclosure Weekly Report” on. When you have completed the form just click the “Submit” button at the bottom of this page.

All Agents Are NOT Created Equal!

June 3rd, 2020

What you need to know about choosing an Agent

By: Jerel Washington
Take it from me…  it’s wise to interview several agents…the same way any Top Agent will interview you!  An inexperienced or untrained agent will just tell you what you want to hear.  Ask yourself this question: If you were visiting a doctor after a major trauma, would you want him/her to tell you the truth about your situation or would you want to hear that everything was just perfect only to pass-out when you leave the emergency room?
There are three sections to this article: General, Buyers & Sellers.  GENERAL: It’s important to know that for the past 7-8 years most of New Jersey has experienced a strong “Seller’s Market.”  As a home owner and seller this has proven to be a very exciting time.  You were more than likely to get top dollar or better for your home with few contingencies.
Save time, aggravation, and disappointment:
Do yourself a favor and conduct a bit of research before working with an agent.  Choose your Real Estate Agent the same way you choose your Doctor.  Ask a friend for a referral, or interview like crazy.  Either way look for a real connection.
However, if you were the buyer in this “Seller’s Market,” it goes without saying, you needed an experienced agent to help you get over the hurdles of purchasing a home in such a competitive marketplace.  In this case, experience alone was not good enough.  You needed an assertive agent.  One who is not over-committed to multiple clients.  You needed someone who would have been focused on your needs.  Someone who was absolutely accountable to you!
Without a doubt, your agent must be prepared for the opportunities.  The good properties, if priced right, go really fast.  You will be competing with other buyers, so make sure your agent knows how to get the job done… FAST!
– How familiar is your agent with the type of neighborhood and price range you are considering?
– Are they liked by the other Top Agents in the area?
– Will they go out and preview on your behalf, or just send you out on a series of drive-by’s?
– Will new properties be emailed to you immediately, in real time, or just when you call to remind them?
– How many clients are they currently working with?!?!  This is a direct assault on the time they will spend with you.
Ask yourself this question….
– How effective could YOU be if you had to report to 5, 6 or 7 managers, all of whom with specific needs, demanding your undivided attention and required your best work without question?
In my experience… in order to be most effective and accountable to my clients, it is imperative that I NEVER take on more than a handful at a time.  Quite simply this is “Quality Control-101.”
I rely on my background as a Certified Project Manager to keep the ball moving forward and to conduct business with the professionalism my clients expect of me.  ONLY an inexperienced agent would take on too much responsibility or make commitments they cannot keep causing an overloaded and poor quality work. Quality Service, Professionalism, Loyalty and Commitment are just a few of my core values.
Check out a potential agent’s website, and ask the tough questions.  Are they honest and knowledgeable?  Are they able to repeat the information in person vs. what is written on the pages of their website?  Any trustworthy agent should welcome and appreciate a thorough & thoughtful interview from a potential client.  I do!  I’m passionate about because I know most agents will NOT work for you!

Let Us Know How We Can Help

    INSTRUCTIONS: Share all interest levels. Once you submit the form you will be directed to a Thank you / Scheduling Page where you can schedule a Virtual Call with Mr. Washington to review your specific needs based on this form. We look forward to assisting you in this journey. Thank you for choosing to take the time to share your life with us!
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The Basics of Making an Offer

June 3rd, 2020

The Basics of Making an Offer

A written proposal is the foundation of a real estate transaction. Oral promises are not legally enforceable when it comes to the sale of real estate. Therefore, you need to enter into a written contract, which starts with your written proposal. This proposal not only specifies price, but also all the terms and conditions of the purchase. For example, if the seller offered to help with $2,000 toward your closing costs, make sure that’s included in your written offer and in the final completed contract, or you won’t have grounds for collecting it later.

REALTORS® have standard purchase agreements and will help you put together a written, legally binding offer that reflects the price as well as terms and conditions that are right for you.  Your REALTOR® will guide you through the offer, counteroffer, negotiating and closing processes. In many states certain disclosure laws must be complied with by the seller, and the REALTOR® will ensure that this takes place.

If you are not working with a real estate agent, keep in mind that you must draw up a purchase offer or contract that conforms to state and local laws and that incorporates all of the key items. State laws vary, and certain provisions may be required in your area.

After the offer is drawn up and signed, it is usually presented to the seller by your real estate agent, by the seller’s real estate agent, if that’s a different agent, or often by the two together. In a few areas, sales contracts are drawn up by the parties’ lawyers.

What is in an Offer?

The purchase offer you submit, if accepted as it stands, will become a binding sales contract (known in some areas as a purchase agreement, earnest money agreement or deposit receipt). So it’s important that the purchase offer contains all the items that will serve as a “blueprint for the final sale.” The purchase offer includes items such as:

  • address and the legal description of the property
  • sale price
  • terms: for example, all cash or subject to you obtaining a mortgage for a given amount
  • seller’s promise to provide clear title (ownership)
  • target date for closing (the actual sale)
  • amount of earnest money deposit accompanying the offer, whether it’s a check, cash or promissory note, and how it’s to be returned to you if the offer is rejected – or kept as damages if you later back out for no good reason
  • method by which real estate taxes, rents, fuel, water bills and utilities payments are to be adjusted (prorated) between buyer and seller
  • provisions about who will pay for title insurance, survey, termite inspections, etc.
  • type of deed to be given
  • other requirements specific to your state, which might include a chance for an attorney to review the contract, disclosure of specific environmental hazards or other state-specific clauses
  • a provision that the buyer may make a last-minute walk-through inspection of the property just before the closing
  • a time limit (preferably short) after which the offer will expire
  • contingencies, which are an extremely important matter and that are discussed in detail below

Contingencies & Subject To Clauses

If your offer says “this offer is contingent upon (or subject to) a certain event,” you’re saying that you will only go through with the purchase if that event occurs. Here are two common contingencies contained in a purchase offer:

  • The buyer obtaining specific financing from a lending institution: If the loan can’t be found, the buyer won’t be bound by the contract.
  • satisfactory report by a home inspector: for example, “within 10 days after acceptance of the offer.” The seller must wait 10 days to see if the inspector submits a report that satisfies the buyer. If not, the contract would become void. Again, make sure that all the details are explicitly stated in the written contract.

Negotiating Tips

You’re in a strong bargaining position, that is, you look particularly welcome to a seller, if:

  • You’re an all-cash buyer
  • You already have a Pre-Approved mortgage and you don’t have a present house that has to be sold before you can afford to buy
  • You’re able to close and take possession at a time that is especially convenient for the seller

In these circumstances, you may be able to negotiate some discount from the listed price.

On the other hand, in a “hot” seller’s market, if the perfect house comes on the market, you may want to offer the list price (or more) to beat out other early offers.

It’s very helpful to find out why the house is being sold and whether the seller is under pressure. Keep the following considerations in mind:

  • every month a vacant house remains unsold represents considerable extra expense for the seller
  • if the sellers are divorcing, they may want to sell quickly
  • estate sales often yield a bargain in return for a prompt deal

Earnest Money

This is a deposit that you give when making an offer on a house. A seller is understandably suspicious of a written offer that is not accompanied by a cash deposit to show “good faith.” A real estate agent or an attorney usually holds the deposit, the amount of which varies from community to community. This will become part of your down payment.

Buyers: the Seller’s Response to Your Offer

You will have a binding contract if the seller, upon receiving your written offer, signs an acceptance just as it stands, unconditionally. The offer becomes a firm contract as soon as you are notified of acceptance. If the offer is rejected, that’s that – the sellers could not later change their minds and hold you to it.

If the seller likes everything except the sale price, or the proposed closing date, or the basement pool table you want left with the property, you may receive a written counteroffer including the changes the seller prefers. You are then free to accept it, reject it or even make your own counteroffer. For example, “We accept the counteroffer with the higher price, except that we still insist on having the pool table.”

Each time either party makes any change in the terms, the other side is free to accept, reject or counter again. The document becomes a binding contract only when one party finally signs an unconditional acceptance of the other side’s proposal.

Buyers: Withdrawing an Offer

Can you take back an offer? In most cases the answer is yes, right up until the moment it is accepted, or even in some cases, if you haven’t yet been notified of acceptance. If you do want to revoke your offer, be sure to do so only after consulting a lawyer who is experienced in real estate matters. You don’t want to lose your earnest money deposit or find yourself being sued for damages the seller may have suffered by relying on your actions.

Sellers: Calculating Your Net Proceeds

When an offer comes in, you can accept it exactly as it stands, refuse it (seldom a useful response) or make a counteroffer to the buyers with the changes you want. In evaluating a purchase offer, you should estimate the amount of cash you’ll walk away with when the transaction is complete. For example, when you’re presented with two offers at the same time, you may discover you’re better off accepting the one with the lower sale price if the other asks you to pay points to the buyer’s lending institution.

Once you have a specific proposal before you, calculating net proceeds becomes simple. From the proposed purchase price you can subtract the following costs:

  • payoff amount on present mortgage
  • any other liens (equity loan, judgments)
  • broker’s commission
  • legal costs of selling (attorney, escrow agent)
  • transfer taxes
  • unpaid property taxes and water and other utility bills
  • if required by the contract: cost of survey, termite inspection, buyer’s closing costs, repairs, etc.

Your present mortgage lender may maintain an escrow account into which you deposit money to be used for property tax bills and homeowner’s insurance. In that case, remember that you will receive a refund of money left in that account, which will add to your proceeds.

Sellers: Counteroffers

When you receive a purchase offer from a would-be buyer, remember that unless you accept it exactly as it stands, unconditionally, the buyer is free to walk away. Any change you make in a counteroffer puts you at risk of losing that chance to sell.

Who pays for what items is often determined by local custom. You can, however, negotiate with the buyer any agreement you want about who pays for the following costs:

  • termite inspection
  • survey
  • buyer’s closing costs
  • points paid to the buyer’s lender
  • buyer’s broker fees
  • repairs required by the lender
  • home protection policy

You may feel some of these costs are none of your business, but many buyers – particularly first-timer buyers – are short of cash. Helping them may be the best way to get your home sold.

How to Choose a Neighborhood for Your Home Search

June 2nd, 2020

How to Choose a Neighborhood for Your Home Search

Narrow your home search by identifying neighborhoods that are right for you. This helps keep your search focused and efficient. Your local REALTOR® can offer neighborhood information to guide you in your search.

When evaluating a neighborhood you should investigate local conditions. Depending on your own particular needs and tastes, some of the following factors may be more important considerations than others:

  • quality of schools
  • property values
  • traffic
  • crime rate
  • future construction
  • proximity to schools, employment, hospitals, shops, public transportation, prisons, freeways, airports, beaches, parks, stadiums and cultural centers such as museums and theaters

Neighborhood Search Strategies for Limited Budgets

If you are a first time-buyer with limited financial resources, it’s wise to buy a home that meets your primary needs in the best neighborhood that fits within your price range. You can maximize your home purchase location by incorporating some of the following strategies into your neighborhood search:

  • Upcoming neighborhoods: Look for communities that are likely to become “hot neighborhoods” in the coming years. They can often be discovered on the periphery of the most continuously desirable areas.
    Check for planned future development such as additional transit; new community services such as pools and theaters; and chain stores planning to move in.
    Look for a home in a good neighborhood that is a bit farther out of the city. If commuting is a concern, purchase a home that is close to public transportation.
  • Neighborhood demand: Look at the neighborhood demand by asking your real estate agent whether multiple offers are being made, whether the gap between the list price and sale price is decreasing and whether there is active community involvement. You can also drive around neighborhoods and see how many “sale pending” and “sold” signs there are in a particular area.
  • Co-ownership: Look into purchasing a condominium or co-op, rather than a house, in a desirable neighborhood. This way you still may be able to purchase in a prime area that you otherwise could not afford.

Buyers Improve Your Credit ASAP

June 2nd, 2020

Buyers Improve Your Credit ASAP

Are you in the market to BUY a home?

Do you have Credit Problems?
Have you been turned down for financing elsewhere?
Are you lacking down payment?
Have you filed bankruptcy?

Do you have a court judgment against you?
Are you self-employed?

Do you have too much debt?

All of these items are damaging to your credit and will make financing either impossible or extremely difficult.  We understand that life circumstances are sometimes unmanageable and high finance costs are just not the way we want to move forward.  Our Partners at American Dream Financial Services are standing by to help you repair your credit and move forward towards purchasing a home either for the first time or as you re-enter home ownership.

Millions of honest, hardworking Americans lack the near perfect credit that banks and mortgage companies require to buy a home in today’s market!  Late payments, repossessions, divorce, medical bills, unstable work history, lack of a huge cash down payment, too much debt, judgments and bankruptcy can all spell rejection when you try to buy a home.

Our primary aim is to make the process of owning a home SIMPLE.  If you would like to know about our new properties as soon as they become available, and before they are advertised to the general public, we would be happy to add you to our e-mail notification list.

You tell us what kind of home you are looking for, and we will instantly e-mail you as soon as a home matching your criteria becomes available.

Why Use a REALTOR® When Buying a Home?

June 2nd, 2020

Why Use a REALTOR® When Buying a Home?

A real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about the home buying process.

Not all real estate licensees are the same; only those who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They proudly display the REALTOR ” Â®” trademark on their business cards and other marketing and sales literature.

REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reported that 84% of home buyers would use the same REALTOR® again.

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments of most peoples lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $250,000. If you had a $250,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a certified professional accountant? If you had a $250,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be wise to work with a professional REALTOR® when you are buying a home.

If you’re still not convinced of the value of a REALTOR®, here are more reasons to use one:

  1. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power – that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders – banks and mortgage companies – offer limited choices.
  2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.
  3. Your REALTOR® can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know: First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
  4. Your REALTOR® can help you with negotiations and inspections. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or appliances. The purchase agreement should allow time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
  5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the property evaluation. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports.
    You will also want to see a preliminary report on the property title. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title search company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.
  6. Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and identify qualified lenders.
  7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

14 Awesome Suggestions to Save Money and Time While Moving

June 2nd, 2020

Here are my 14 suggestions to save money and time while moving!

Plan your move from the beginning and remove 50% of the stress you might feel if you don’t plan. Time, Cost of Business, Expenses, Labor, Material costs, Profit. These are all considerations from the moving company when at the end, Profit is their target. As a local, regional or national business they survive by making a profit on their services. Your goal is to Save the very money they are going after. Am I Right? Of course I’m right. My intention for you is to save your money and time so here we go!

There’s a cost of fuel and a shortage of drivers. The cost of a full-service move has risen in the past few years to astronomical levels in some areas. Anything you can do yourself – even if seemingly small – will cut your bill and give extra money to spend on other areas of your relocation costs.

1. Sort / Pack / Donate / Trash: Do this way ahead of time, then do it again and again!  The first pass usually is easy but we end up keeping way too much! My #1 Suggestion is to go through this process 4-5 rounds beginning 4-5 months before your move. Trust me you have more than you think and it will take several rounds to determine what should go with you into your future!

2. For Every Season: You will save money if you can be flexible on your move time. Avoid the Summer months of June, July, and August. Those are the most expensive months to move because of demand for moving companies. Plan your move during the middle of the month, rates are higher at the beginning and the end of the month because of the large number of apartment leases with month-end dates. If you can be flexible with your move-in times can save you money. Large moves can be combined with other movers and save you money!

3. What Do You Really Want in Your Future? That old stuff may have sentimental value but would a picture suffice? Because most long-distance moves are based on the “Weight and/or Cubic Feet of your shipment”, evaluate your needs then decide if you wan to move heavy stuff. Do they fit you new home, lifestyle or are they just memorial pieces. Check areas of your home for items that have not been used for a long time and simply get rid of them (Take a picture of them for memorial sake) – if you don’t use them, why pay for them to be moved to new place (where you won’t use them)?

4. Know What You Own: Inspect your home from top to bottom before you get your moving quote and decide what’s going and what’s not. Mark them appropriately on your moving sheet. If you change the number of items you move, the cost of your move will change. Inform the mover of any changes and get a new quote! Time is NOT YOUR FRIEND so do this work before they come out for the quote. NEVER RELY ON PHONE QUOTES, ITS A SCAM!!! (Record your call if possible).

5. Pack It Yourself: Packing services performed by the mover are pricey (a good rule of thumb to estimate is 25-30% of your moving budget). If you don’t want to pack it all, you should always, in my opinion, do a partial pack, and have the movers handle the rest. Items that are nonbreakable such as linens and bedding can be packed easily without the risk of damage. I like to think of it this way: Every box you pack yourself is money in your pocket, not theirs! Trust me, they plan on getting every dollar even up to not delivering you items on last minute adjusted costs!

Be aware that if you buy insurance for your move, the insurance won’t cover items you pack yourself, unless there’s visible damage to the box. The insurance companies don’t want to pay damages for items packed by inexperienced packers, i.e., you!

6. Save on Packing: Luggage and duffel bags are perfect for packing sheets, towels and clothing. Also, the bottoms of wardrobe boxes are great for bulky, lightweight items. Use that space. Be wary of packing tips that might save you money initially but won’t protect your stuff – for example, using newspaper instead of bubble wrap. Sure, it might save a few bucks, but in the end, is breaking what you’re packing something worth it saving? If so, bubble wrap, if not… you make the call.

7. Stock Up: Make sure you have plenty of boxes and materials so you don’t have to keep making trips to buy more. It’s better to return what you don’t use vs making several trips back and forth. You’ll probably need more than you anticipate, so buy extra. If you’re buying from a moving company, you might be able to return the boxes you don’t use. Check before hand. Also check online Bulk Box Delivery to you door services and Amazon for boxes. Heavy items like books go in small boxes and bulky items go in large boxes.

8. Is It Disconnected? Movers do not generally disconnect or reconnect electronics or appliances. Time is money and it can be costly to have a third-party do it, so if you or someone you know can do it, you can save a lot of money. Because time is also a consideration the quotes you get assume a block of time to pack and or move you. When they can move slower and cost you more time the final bill will be much more expensive than your quote! This is also a trick of the industry.

9. Break It Down: Every service a professional mover performs comes with an additional cost and they are not always disclosed. Items located at a storage or alternate location should be moved to your home to avoid extra pick-up charges. Amy items that need to be disassembled, like beds, tables, can be done by the mover quickly, however, other items such as exercise equipment, outdoor gym and play sets require extra time, extra labor, and will come with extra costs. Whenever possible, disassemble and reassemble these yourself.

10. Time is Money: A great idea is to Color-match your rooms and the boxes. This will allo each item to make it to the room it belongs in saving time and effort for both you and your mover. Remember, time is money!

11. I Am the Tax Man: If it’s for business reasons, your move may be tax-deductible. Keep all receipts and ask a professional ahead of time. Better to be prepared!

12. Are You Insured? Your existing homeowners or renters insurance policy might cover your move so you don’t have to buy additional moving protection. Ask your agent/insurance company.

13. Doing Without: Between the time your stuff is loaded into the truck and you get to your new location, think of everything you might need so you don’t have to buy it while traveling to your new home. It’s best to pack like you are going on a 5-7 day vacation and set these items in suit-cases early. Place them in the car or a special room before the movers come. They can get packed and end up in the wrong place if you’re not careful.

14. Just Ask: If you have a tight budget, talk to your moving company when you get your moving quote. Many can find ways to work with you and there may be other things that you can do yourself to help reduce the total cost. Most moving companies want your business and will strike an appropriate balance between services provided and costs to meet your budget.

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