Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Loan Process

Loan Process

The Loan Application
If you're like most people, you'll probably need to secure a mortgage loan for your new house. Application for a home loan can take as little as one week and up to a month, depending on the type of mortgage.

Your lender or mortgage broker will be able to give you a better idea of the actual time it will take from application to approval. However, in general, conventional loans are processed more quickly than FHA or VA home loans.

Read more about types of mortgage loans.

The following is a step-by-step outline of what to expect during the loan application process:

1. Application
Bring all required documentation. (Also, see the Application Checklist.)
Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs
Truth-in-Lending statement

2. Processing
Verification of employment
Verification of deposits
Credit report

3. Underwriting
Clear conditions

4. Purchase Homeowner's Insurance

5. Escrow
Determine funds needed for closing
Schedule appointment for closing
Prepare deed and mortgage note
Closing and Title Transfer

Application Checklist

To speed up the application process, bring the applicable following items to your loan application appointment.

Signed copy of Purchase Agreement plus all Addendums.
Tax and Legal description on subject property.
Residence addresses for the past two (2) years.
Past two years' W-2 statements or 1099’s.
Computer generated paycheck stubs for last 30 days.
Names, addresses and phone numbers of Employers for past two (2) years.
Past two (2) month’s statements for all Checking, Savings, IRAs, 401Ks, Money Markets, Profit Sharing and evidence of Stocks and Bonds. Document all recent large deposits.
In income received for commissions, bonuses, partnership(s), corporation(s), or if self-employed, requires two (2) year’s Personal Federal Tax Returns with all Schedules along with a current P&L Statement and Business Balance Sheets and past two (2) years’ Partnership and/or Corporate Returns, if applicable.
Cancelled checks from rent or mortgage for the last 12 months, and name and address of any landlord(s) within the last 12 months.
Names, addresses, account numbers, monthly payments and balances on all open loans and revolving credit accounts.
Copy of Bankruptcy Petition listing all creditors and copy of Bankruptcy Discharge Papers (if applicable). Please provide letter of explanation as to why the Bankruptcy occurred.
Copy of Driver’s License and Social Security Card (VA Loans Only).
Certificate of Eligibility and DD214 Discharge Paper (VA Loans Only).
Application fee (check or money order).
Copy of divorce decree and/or separation agreement.
A "Friend of the Court" letter stating the amount of any alimony/child support payments and notification that the account is current.
1040 tax forms (if you’re self-employed) for the past two years, 1120 Corporate Tax Returns (or Form 1065 for Partnerships) for the previous two years, year-to-date profit-and-loss statement and balance sheet signed by your accountant.
1040 tax forms for the past two years (including schedules) if you own income properties or if your income is based on commission or bonuses.
Fortunately, as you work one-on-one with your chosen home mortgage consultant, he/she should be able to offer valuable lending expertise and advice and answer all your questions while ensuring that your loan application process progresses as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Century 21 JRS Realty is affiliated with Century 21 Mortgage, LLC.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Steps to Buying a Home

Steps to Buying

Buying on Your Terms
Buying a home is all about you. What you need. What you want in the house you'll call home sweet home. So naturally the buying process should be all about you, too.

That's why working with an agent is such a good idea - it puts the focus on what's important to you. Century 21 JRS Realty agents work hard to make your home buying experience just as good as you imagined it; and since they have the most innovative tools in the industry, they're well-equipped to do so.

Here's the Century 21 JRS Realty 10-step plan to buying on your terms:

1. Conduct a Comparative Market Analysis
A Century 21 JRS Realty agent can deliver a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA), which is a breakdown of homes in a particular location that are currently on the market, expired from the market, pending a sale, or already sold. The CMA helps you accurately determine a home's value by comparing homes in the same area that have already sold.

2. Start the Financing Process
Unless you're planning to buy with cash, you'll need to secure a mortgage loan. Your Century 21 JRS Realty agent can help you select a lender and coordinate the timing and paperwork of your loan. Working with our lending affiliate, Century 21 Mortgage may be a good option for you since we can help consolidate the many aspects of the home-buying process.

3. Narrow Your Search
The right agent will work to find your new home, first by opening up your options, then by helping you narrow the field. S/he will come up with a suggested list of homes that match your needs, and can even show you homes online, before arranging for home tours, and providing maps and directions to the homes you wish to visit.

4. Document Assistance
Your Century 21 JRS Realty agent can help you write and present your purchase offer on the home of your choosing. Rely on your agent's expertise in managing the paperwork that's a necessary part of the home-buying process.

5. Evaluate and Negotiate Offers and Counteroffers
While it may be true that anything is negotiable, it may not always be in your best interest. An agent skilled in negotiation is your best ally in a competitive market, helping you get the best purchase price on your new home.

6. Get Objective Advice
Your Century 21 JRS Realty agent is a professional dedicated to guiding you in your new home purchase. While emotion might color your judgment, you can rely on your agent to provide an impartial viewpoint and advise you of options and alternatives throughout the process.

7. Set Up a Home Inspection
Some states require sellers to disclose material facts about their home's condition to potential buyers. A home inspection can help you protect your interests by determining if there are any problems or repairs that need to be taken care of before you complete your new home purchase. Your Century 21 JRS Realty agent can arrange for an inspection appointment, accompany you (or fill in for you) at the inspection, and determine additional needs.

8. Negotiate Disputes and Issues
Even the smoothest, simplest real estate transaction involves two parties with needs and objectives that often differ. Your agent should negotiate, mediate and provide conflict resolution to help you and the seller come to a mutually beneficial outcome.

9. Prepare for Contingencies
Contractual contingencies are terms that must be met before an agreement can be binding. Written contingencies must be removed (in writing and by a specified date) before a contract can be in full effect. Whether it's financing, inspection, or any other item in your agreement, your Century 21 JRS Realty agent can help you understand how to fulfill or remove any contractual conditions.

10. Get to Closing
Taking possession of your new home is always top of mind. But unanticipated difficulties at closing can be downright annoying. Your Century 21 JRS Realty agent will help you resolve issues and finalize the transfer of ownership and house keys, so you can be in the home you always imagined.

Buyer Frequently Asked Questions

You Want Answers? We Have Them.
Q: I'm thinking about buying a home. Where do I start?
A: The first step for potential homebuyers is a credit check. It's best to keep an eye on your credit reports so you can spot any mistakes and dispute them. You should also avoid running up high credit card bills in the months prior to buying a home.

These two steps will help you in the next phase of your game plan, pre-approval on a mortgage. A full-service real estate broker can help you with this portion of the plan. Pre-approval includes analyzing your income, assets, and present debt to estimate how much house you can afford. This means the lender has committed to loaning you money subject to the house you choose to buy. Being pre-approved for a loan will make you attractive to sellers because the contract won't be tied up with financial issues.

After you know how much you can spend, you're in the homestretch. This is the time for you to become familiar with neighborhoods and the features of a home. Educate yourself by visiting local real estate web sites and viewing the listings. This is also the time for you to decide what you want and need in a home.

A solid game plan needs a good coach. A Century 21 JRS Realty Realtor can help you through all steps of the plan, prepare you for any unforeseen problems and eventually help you to buy the home of your dreams.

Q: What should I consider when I start to look for a home?
A: First, put together a list of features and benefits you want in a home. Think of such things as pricing, location, size, and amenities. If you can't get a home at the price you want with all the features you're looking for, figure out what features are most important to you and rank them in priority so you know what you're willing to give-and-take. For instance, you could choose to have a large kitchen and smaller bedrooms?

You should also consider your future needs. Maybe now is the time to buy a larger home rather than buying a small home and expanding it in the future. Your agent can help you compare the price of homes with the features you are looking for or suggest alternate uses of space.

Q: Should I buy first, or sell first?
A: The answer to this question lies squarely with you. Do you need the equity that's built up in your present home to complete the purchase of a new home? If so, you either need to sell first or consider a bridge loan or house sale contingency. If not, you may choose to buy first and sell later. Before making a final decision, Century 21 JRS Realty strongly suggests that you engage a real estate agent with whom you can enter a trusting relationship. Then discuss this question with him or her, touching on every aspect of what it may mean for your particular situation.

Q: How do I choose between renting or buying?
A: Owning a home offers tax benefits, as well as the freedom to make decisions about where you live. Homeowners, unlike renters, can secure a fixed-rate loan and lock in their monthly payments, so they can make investment plans knowing their expenses won't change substantially. Renters are at the whim of their landlord, who can raise the rent each year without a renter's input. Homeowners, on the other hand, are in control of their property and decide whether they allow pets, decorating, or permanent improvements.

Q: Do your real estate agents cooperate with other companies' agents?
A. Our agents work according to specific laws, regulations, and customs in their respective areas. In every market that Century 21 JRS Realty serves, brokers and agents from different companies work cooperatively, showing and selling each other's listed properties.

Q: Why do I need an agent to help me find a home with all of the technology and advertising available?
A: The Internet and newspaper are good places to start researching the current housing market. You can also find information to help answer many of your financing questions. But once you've looked at what's available, it's a good time to get a professional involved.

If you go it on your own, you might spend hours scanning newspaper ads and home magazines, driving through neighborhoods seeking "for sale" signs, or phoning about individual listings and still miss some of the best available homes. A Century 21 JRS Realty agent will save you time, money, and provide access to a wealth of information resources to help find that special home.

Q: If I'm thinking about buying a newly-constructed house, why do I need an agent?
A: Building a home often requires hours of research and decision-making. You must first decide what area you want to build in and which builder you want to use. After these initial decisions, you still have many choices of floor plans, building materials, and fixtures.

Personalization and freedom of choice are some of the benefits of building a home, but they can also be very stressful. An agent will guide you through the entire home building process and help you along the way should you need it. You'll still get to make the choices on your own, but your agent will be there to help, keeping your best interests in mind. Plus, buyer representation comes at no cost to you.

Q: Is Century 21 JRS Realty a member of the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?
A. Yes - in every market we serve, Century 21 JRS Realty is a member of the local MLS, as well as being members of the national, state, and local Associations/Boards of Realtors®

Q: What typically goes into an agreement for buyer representation?
A: Like any contract, a buyer representation agreement needs beginning and ending dates. It also has an acknowledgement of your willingness to be represented by the company and its agent, as well as the amount, if any, that you'll pay for real estate-related services. Buyer agreements may also indicate whether you'll work with only one company/agent or several.

Q: What is an Agency Disclosure?
A: An Agency Disclosure is a state-required document, disclosing to you as a principal-in this case, the buyer-in a real estate transaction whom the agent or agents in the transaction represent. A state's Agency Disclosure simply notifies you of that state's agency laws; it does not obligate you to work with any particular agent or broker.

Q: How are buyer's agents compensated?
A: The buyer and real estate agent come to terms on which services the buyer needs and the way the agent will be compensated for providing these services. In most cases, a fee or commission is based on the seller's proceeds of sale and shared between the seller's (listing) and buyer's (selling) agents. In some cases, the buyer makes a direct payment to his or her agent.

Buyers sometimes pay their agent/broker directly for finding and purchasing a home. If a broker charges buyers a direct fee, it should be outlined in an exclusive agency agreement that the buyer signs when engaging the broker.

Payment arrangements vary, depending on market conditions, customary practices, and consumer expectation. Some eager home buyers offer an incentive to give their real estate agent additional motivation (generally a cash bonus when title transfers) to find them the "right" property.

As you interview prospective agents and weigh their respective services, consider which compensation options and terms will get you in the home you want and meet your individual needs.

Q: What do all of those abbreviations in property ads mean?
A: If you find yourself stumbling to understand a property description, you're not alone. We've composed a list of some of the most frequently used abbreviations to help you understand a BA from a BR and more.

Bath Formal Dining Room Bedroom

LR MBR=Master Bedroom Dr=Dining Room
Living Room
FP, frplc, fplc FR=Family Room
WBFP LL=Lower Level
Wood Burning Fireplace
Entr grmet kit=Gourmet Kitchen
Dck Pvt=Private pwdr rm=Powder Room
Gar Brk=Brick
Upr=Upper Floor HDW, HWF, Hdwd=Hardwood Floors

Q: As a buyer, do I have the right to obtain past information about the property I'm interested in purchasing?
A: Yes. Sellers are required to disclose all known property defects. With your agent's help, you can find out what has happened to the property in the past. You should make careful observations, examine the property, and request or otherwise obtain any other important records. Put these requests in writing. If you decide to put an offer on a home, it's important to have a professional inspection completed before closing.

What to Look for in an Agent

What to Look for in a Buyer's Agent
Once you've made the decision to buy a home, your next step is one of your most important: finding a real estate professional to guide you through the process. A good agent will help you avoid common pitfalls, make wise home investment decisions, and bring order to the entire buying process.

Realtors are licensed professionals who adhere to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics. Those belonging to the NAR receive continuing education and are up on the latest trends, making them well-prepared to offer you the most advanced real estate advice. Your agent will provide you a variety of tools and assistance to streamline your buying experience.

At Century 21 JRS Realty, we believe that both the buyer and the seller should have professional representation. If an agent represents you, you're privy to more information and receive the benefit of someone promoting your best interests at all times – usually with no out-of-pocket costs to you.

One of the things to look for in a buyer's agent is their reputation and standing in the community. Realtors know (and are known) favorably in their territories. Because they know the neighborhoods inside and out, they can help you decide which home is right for you. For example, you might see two houses in the same neighborhood as being identical, but your agent will be well-versed in their differences – no matter how subtle. In addition, even comparable homes may differ in terms of contract, financing, inspection requirements and closing costs. Let your agent help with all the details.

You should also expect your agent to provide you with quick and easy ways to make the home search process more convenient. Look for a buyer's agent who has access to tools that can help you weed through potential homes at your convenience, online. Being able to view property photos, information and details in advance of in-person showings can help save you a great deal of time in the home search process. Technology-savvy agents should provide this type of service as part of their overall offering to you as a client.

A Century 21 JRS Realty buyer's agent actively approaches the home-buying process with enthusiasm, experience and patience. Look for an agent who will:

Work on your behalf to find your new home.
Research comparable properties to determine a fair price and terms.
Prepare your purchase agreement and accompanying legal paperwork, including disclosure documents.
Negotiate for the price, terms and conditions that are agreeable to you.
Follow up with your mortgage lender, title company, seller's agent and others until the house is legally yours.
Finding the right sales associate involves asking tough questions of yourself and your agent. For example, if you're always on the go and prefer updated listing information via e-mail, ask your prospective real estate agent if s/he is technology-savvy. If you'd prefer a "one-stop shop" where you can get assistance with mortgage, title and relocation needs, consult with an agent at a full-service brokerage company, like Century 21 JRS Realty.

Finally, remember to employ an agent with whom you have a rapport. Knowing you're in capable, trusting hands will let you enjoy the excitement of the home-buying process, not agonize over it.

Find your Century 21 JRS Realty buyer's agent now!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back on Top

Congrats to Joe Piizzi for earning agent of the month honors again. Joe is back on top for the month of July with 2 listings and 2 sales for the month. Joe is leading the way for CENTURY 21 JRS Realty this year having his best year in Real Estate. Joe is out to prove that the market does not determine the success of a Real Estate Agent. The agents work ethic is what counts. Again we are very proud of Joe and wish him the best in the future.