Priority Tasks for Your Move In

The deal is done and now you’re officially a homeowner. Yay! But now what? Moving into a new home is an exciting time, and you’re probably daydreaming about decor and paint schemes and new furniture. But before you get into the fun stuff, there are some basics you should cover first.

Change the locks
Even if you’re promised that new locks have been installed in your home, you can never be too careful. It’s worth the money to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that no one else has the keys to your home. Changing the locks can be a DIY project, or you can call in a locksmith for a little extra money. Consider installing “smart locks” and you can rekey to your old keys.

Steam clean the carpets                                                                                                                      It’s good to get a fresh start with your floors before you start decorating. The previous owners may have had pets, young children, or just some plain old clumsiness. Take the time to steam clean the carpets so that your floors are free of stains and allergens. It’s pretty easy and affordable to rent a steam cleaner—your local grocery store may have them available.

Call an exterminator
Prior to move-in, you probably haven’t spent enough time in the house to get a view of any pests that may be lurking. Call an exterminator to take care of any mice, insects, and other critters that may be hiding in your home. Even if they’re not currently there, you might as well make sure they never visit!

Clean out the kitchen
If the previous occupants wanted to skip on some of their cleaning duties when they moved out, the kitchen is where they probably cut corners. If you’re like me you’re going to want to disinfect every possible surface. Wipe down the inside of cabinets, clean out the refrigerator, clean the oven, and clean in the nooks and crannies underneath the appliances.

About Rachell

 

 

Rachell Pintor | Licensed Realtor with Twins & Co. Realty | Mobile: (602) 574-3438 | Email:  Rachell@TwinsandCompany.com

 

Five Things to Know About Home Inspections

The home inspection is an important part of the home sale process, both for buyers and sellers. When it’s time for you to hire an inspector, here are five things you should be thinking about:

1. It’s your choice: You are not bound or obligated to use any particular inspector. Your real estate professional may have some recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you. Ask around and choose wisely—better to pay a little more now for a highly-respected inspector than to be surprised by a problem that the inspection didn’t reveal.

2. Looking for big problems: The inspector will be focused on the integrity of the home—safety, electrical work, foundation, load-bearing walls, etc. The inspector is not there to point out problems with ugly paint colors or light fixtures.

3. The report: There are hundreds of items to inspect in a home, so the inspector’s report will focus on the basics: What’s damaged, what needs repaired, etc. The report should be easy to read and understand.

4. Code of ethics: Though the inspector is working for the party that pays the inspector’s fee, the inspector will not deliver a report that intentionally hides or omits damaging information about the home. The report is private between you and the inspector, but if you’re the seller, you’re required to disclose any problems that the inspection reveals.

5. The inspector is not liable: Even the best inspectors can’t find every single problem in a home. They can’t see inside the walls or through the floors, so there could still be problems lurking. If a problem is revealed down the road, the inspector can’t be held responsible.

5 Ways You Can Get Your Earnest Money Back

No matter how much time you spend on researching and educating yourself about your home purchase, it’s hard to cover every detail. Here are a few tips for avoiding rookie mistakes with your first home purchase.

Earnest money is a deposit you pay when you make an offer on a home—it’s a way to show the seller that you mean business. Usually you can’t get it back, but there are several circumstances that allow you to recover your earnest money.

1. Appraisal contingency: With an appraisal contingency, you can recover your earnest money if the home is appraised for less than your offer. This gives you a better negotiating position—if the seller doesn’t agree to a lower price, you can get your earnest money back and walk away from the deal.

2. Major problems with the home: It may be your dream home at the surface level, but an inspection could reveal major, major problems—such as issues with the foundation, or flood damage. In that case, you can get your money back if the seller doesn’t agree to a lower price.

3. The seller backs out: Obviously, if the seller changes their mind about the transaction—maybe they decide not to sell—you get your earnest money back.

4. Your house hasn’t sold: Many buyers can’t afford a new home if they’re still financially responsible for their old one. In this case, you can work a sale contingency into the contract, and get your earnest money back if the home doesn’t sell soon enough.

5. Financing issues: Though there are some limits on financing contingencies, you can get your money back if you’re unable to get a loan.

Hidden Homeowner Costs

Budgeting for buying a home can be difficult enough when you’re just weighing mortgage options and a purchase price. But there are many other factors that go into the cost of home ownership. Some of them are one-time expenses that you’ll pay during the home buying process, while others will be recurring costs for as long as you own the home.

Closing costs
There are several smaller fees that add up to a rather large sum when you’re going through the closing process—loan fees, title fees, and more. They typically in Arizona add up to 2–3% of the purchase price. For a $300,000 home, that’s in the neighborhood of $6,000 to $9,000, so be sure to budget for it. You can easily get quote for these costs from a lender or title representative.

Appraisal
Your lender (if you’re getting a loan) will require an appraisal, and the appraisal fee (usually $450 to $600) is customarily paid for by the buyer in Arizona. Some lenders will ask for the cost to be paid for upfront when the appraisal happens, while others will allow you to wait until closing day. Be sure to talk to your lender about their costs and when they collect the fee.

Inspection
The few hundred dollars you’ll pay for a home inspection is money well spent, but it’s something you have to keep in mind during the purchase process. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing the house is free from any major issues, and you’re making a smart, solid investment. There are also inspections beyond the general inspection such as termite, sewer, mold and more that you may want to consider depending on the property you’re under contract on. While they add on more upfront costs, they can save you money in the long run if you can get the seller to make repairs.

Insurance
Although homeowners insurance isn’t legally required, it’ll almost certainly be required by your lender. Further insurance, such as flood insurance, may also be required (depending on your location). Be sure to shop quote during your inspection period so that you know it’s an amount you can afford. After your inspection period you’re not able to get out of the contract if the amount is higher then expected.

Home Owners Association
If you’re living in a property or community with shared spaces, you’ll almost certainly have an HOA fee. This pays for things like street maintenance, maintenance of common areas, and for recreational facilities like gyms and swimming pools. Also there are often additional one time HOA fees such as transfer fees. It’s important to know what they are, have them in writing, and write out who is going to pay for what. This is done on the HOA addendum in AZ. You also want to ask if there are any known assessments coming up, and these will tack on extra to your monthly fee.

Five Tips for First-Time Buyers

No matter how much time you spend on researching and educating yourself about your home purchase, it’s hard to cover every detail. Here are a few tips for avoiding rookie mistakes with your first home purchase.

1. Save as early as you can: Even if you think you’re years away from buying your first home, try to start saving for your down payment. I know it’s hard with how high rents are right now, but it makes a huge difference in your monthly payments, and helps avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (which also makes your closing costs and monthly payment higher).

2. Be thorough with mortgage shopping: There are countless resources out there that can help you get the best terms for your mortgage. It may seem like a lot of work to shave less than a point off your mortgage rate, but it’ll save you thousands in the long run. Also make sure that you feel a trusting connection with your lender and that they’ll answer calls and write up pre qualification letters for you on the weekend!

3. Look with open eyes: You’re likely to fall in love with a home, and that can make it difficult to take problems seriously. Make sure your realtor points out the good and bad about a home. While there’re not a professional inspector, they can often catch a lot of potential problems that will need to be looked at. Also bring someone along for an outside opinion too. They tend to be less emotional about the purchase and can see a property for what it really is.

4. Be patient with getting settled: You’ll be anxious to make your new home your own, but take some time to see how your budget truly shakes out. In other words, hold off on big furniture purchases and remodeling projects especially before closing. Making big purchases (with cash or credit) while you’re in escrow can effect you getting qualified for your loan, make sure to chat with your loan officer before any big purchase!

5. Make sure you’re happy with the neighborhood: Location, location, location! The house may be perfect, but don’t discount the surroundings. You don’t want to end up in the suburbs if you’re going to miss walking to your favorite coffee shop, and you don’t want to settle for the city if you’re looking forward to some peace and quiet. Some suggestions I have are drive down the street on a Friday or Saturday night. Is it quiet or are your neighbors really partying? Also chat with your neighbors about the area. Nothing wrong with knocking on their door and chatting about any concerns you have. I was worried about railroad noise for my house, so I asked a neighbor about it and turned out it was no big deal. Last check out crime statistic maps and sex offender maps if that is something important to you!

Avoid These Comments When You’re Buying a Home

Sometimes you need to keep a poker face when you’re buying a home. It’s not in your best interest to be totally candid with the seller and listing agent when you’re considering a home. Here a few things that are better left unsaid.

“This is at the top end of our budget”: Don’t let the listing agent know that a home is at the top of your budget. You want to keep all the bargaining chips you can, and letting the seller know your budget can hurt you when it comes time to negotiate.

“I hate the paint”: Or furniture. Or cabinets. Or any of the decor. No matter how hideous the wallpaper in the kitchen is, take care not to insult the seller’s taste. If they’re considering multiple offers, you don’t want to be the buyer that offended the seller!

“We can’t wait to renovate”: Customization is one of the big perks of homeownership, but it’s best to keep your renovation plans quiet for the moment. The seller may have a lot of memories in the home, and may not appreciate your plans to immediately tear down some walls.

About Rachell

 

Rachell Pintor | Licensed Realtor with Twins & Co. Realty | Mobile: (602) 574-3438 | Email:  Rachell@TwinsandCompany.com

What a Buyer’s Agent Can Do For You?

When you’re looking for a new home (or even considering it) it’s important that you have a buyer’s agent (preferably an Accredited Buyer’s Representative like me) looking out for your best interests. The seller is paying for agent commissions out of their proceeds, so you may as well take advantage of the FREE (to you) service a buyer’s agent can provide for you. A Realtor is required to provide loyalty, obedience, disclosure, confidentiality, and transparent accounting in all transactions. But what does that actually mean your buyer’s agent will do for you? Here is a breakdown of the services provided at different times during the transaction:

Help You Arrange Financing

  • Assist in referring reputable lenders who offer loan programs specific to buyer’s needs
  • Work with you and your lender to determine not only how much you can get approved for, but how much you want to spend.
  • Educate and discuss the differences of being prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage

Assist in Finding the Right Property for You

  • Help you to identify your needs and wants in a property
  • Find appropriate, available properties
  • Set up an automated email alert system that immediately notifies you of new properties that fit you requirements
  • Sort through information on homes of interest to determine accuracy
  • Provide ready access to all MLS properties
  • Network with other agents from properties not yet in the MLS
  • Aid in narrowing your search until you have identified your top choices
  • Assist in analyzing the pro and cons of each property
  • Disclose all known latent material defects

Educate You on Market Conditions

  • Educate you on if it is currently a buyer’s or seller’s market
  • Show statistics on  what percent of list price sellers are currently receiving
  • Show trends such as average days on market, absorption rate, and current months of inventory

Guide You Through Making an Offer

  • Prepare a CMA so you can make an informed decision on an offering price
  • Advise you on what comparable properties are selling for
  • Explain common contract contingencies
  • Obtain appropriate seller disclosures
  • Prioritize your goals
  • Help create a negotiating strategy to meet these goals
  • Ensure that you receive and understand all state and federally required disclosure forms
  • Educate you on the contents of a sales contract
  • Ensure that all additional required forms are completed
  • Assist you in getting the best property and terms with the least amount of inconvenience
  • Prepare you for multiple offer situations if they come up

Getting You to Closing

  • Recommend inspectors, lenders, lawyers, and any other needed professionals.
  • Be an advocate and advisor during the escrow/closing process
  • Be present for the inspection to be able to fully understand the report
  • Review and discuss home inspection concerns
  • Monitor and communicate all required contract deadlines to ensure they are met
  • Assist in coordinating communications with the listing agent, lender, attorneys, title company, appraiser, and any other professionals in the transaction
  • Accompany you on the walk through prior to closing to ensure the property is in the same condition as when you entered the contract and that all agreed upon repairs have been made
  • Attend the signing appointment with you to ensure you understand all closing paperwork and that all facts and figures are correct
  • Remain a life-long trusted advisor regarding real estate questions, concerns, or needs.

If you have any questions regarding what a buyer’s agent can do for you feel free to contact me at 602.574.3438 or at Rachell@TwinsAndCompany.com. I am an Accredited Buyer’s Representative with a proven history of finding homes for my buyers at the right price! Check out my testimonials to see what my buyer’s have to say about their experiences of working with me.

How to House Hunt in the Heat

Heat

Let’s face it, in Arizona during summer we desire to stay indoors in the cool air conditioning at all times because outside is unbearably miserable. Yesterday I got into my car and my necklace got so hot I had to take it off because it was burning me! Sometimes though, we have reasons to venture out and deal with the heat. One of those things is house hunting. Even though the idea of moving during the cool winter temperatures is more appealing, sometime life just doesn’t cooperate! Here are some steps you can take to survive and maybe even enjoy your summer house hunting experience.

Time Your Viewings According to the Temperature

The best time to go house hunting during the summer is in the morning when the heat isn’t as brutal. I sometimes meet clients as early as 8am so that we can get going and beat the heat. If I can I try to not schedule showings between 1pm-6pm as it’s the hottest time of the day. If you can’t make it to morning showings due to your work schedule don’t worry! Just schedule them later in the day (6 or 7pm), but make sure that you still have sunlight to see the properties. When showings occur after dark it can be hard to get a good feel of the property, and it’s also easy to miss potential problems such as water damage when you don’t have natural light.

Schedule Less Showings per Day

In the winter sometimes I’ll show 7 or 8 properties to clients in a day. But with it being so hot, I suggest making 5 the max. Typically you get hotter and hotter the more properties you see with getting in and out of hot cars, walking in yards, and potentially seeing properties that are warm or not air conditioned at all. I find that once you get past four showings in Arizona summers that you don’t really remember the details of the properties you see, you just remember how hot it was! You don’t want to miss out on the perfect house because you weren’t paying attention!

See Homes That Are Near Each Other

Have your Realtor map out homes that you like and schedule showings that are only 3-5 miles apart. This way you aren’t spending as much time in a hot car potentially stuck in traffic. This also goes with scheduling less showings per day. If you have three different areas you would like to look at houses in, consider looking at those properties three different days. Just be sure to have your Realtor look into the status of each listing you have interest in. If there’s an offer from another buyer on a house you like, you may just have to deal with the heat.

Bring Water

If your going to view more then one or two houses, be sure to bring water with you! It’s amazing how fast you get thirsty and even potentially dehydrated. Maybe even consider bringing a misting fan. I had a client bring one along last week. It may not have looked cool, but if sure felt it!

Last Resort

If you’ve followed all the above and you are still miserable house hunting in the summer, then just go run through the sprinklers! I was out with a client/friend last year in August and we saw eight condos (with stairs!) in one day. Both of us were miserable by the end and drenched in sweat. We both saw the sprinklers at the same time and made a run for it. The funny part was that I didn’t even have to worry about getting my car wet because I was already dry by the time I walked over to it.