Three Major Tallahassee Home Buying Mistakes

Not every mistake in a real estate transaction can be reversed, much less fixed before closing. If buyers goof up and make an innocent mistake, they might very well be stuck with the consequences for a long time or, worse, their deal might not even close. It could fall out of escrow.

Number One Blunder: Refusing to Confide in a Trusted Advisor

This advisor could be your real estate lawyer or real estate agent. Buyers withhold information for a variety of reasons such as:

* Fear of how they will be perceived

* Irrational belief they have all the answers

* Don’t feel it is important enough

* Lack confidence in their advisor

Experienced real estate professionals handle such a multitude of transactions and personality mixes, there’s little they haven’t heard before. Your advisors are representing your best interests and have a fiduciary responsibility to do so. They can’t help you if they don’t know what you are doing behind their backs. Plus, they will likely have a better idea for you than you can dredge up.

If you have cold feet and have thoughts about backing out of the transaction, talk to your agent about those feelings. She can help walk you through the anxieties. Pros will help you to determine if you really need to cancel and, if so, manage the transaction so you can get your earnest money deposit back.

Number Two Blunder: Altering Financial Pictures Prior to Closing

When I bought my first home, I easily qualified because I had no car payment nor revolving debt. A week before closing, I bought a new car and financed the purchase. New ratios meant I no longer qualified. A frantic phone call to my mother, begging her to lend me the money to pay off my car loan (and threatening to show up on her doorstep with luggage in tow and a cat under each arm), was the only tactic that saved me from losing the house.

Today’s home buyers make the same mistake. Do not buy anything on credit and / or with a credit card once you have completed a loan application. Do NOT buy:

* Automobiles

* Washers, dryers, refrigerators

* Lawnmowers or garden equipment

* Expensive electronics or computers

* Furniture for your new home

Slight alterations in your credit ratios could cause an underwriter to throw out your loan and deny it. If your loan contingency has expired or been removed, you could forfeit your earnest money deposit in addition to losing the home.

Number Three Blunder: Buying the Wrong House

The very first thing home buyers should do is make a list of priorities and define home purchase objectives. Figure out what features and benefits are most important and which you can live without. Before you close escrow, review this list. It’s easy to overlook a major factor that could come back to haunt you later.

A buyer looking for a home in the midtown neighborhood of Sacramento, California, found herself swept up in the excitement of buying a home that was a bit less than she actually needed. She convinced herself that having one bathroom was suitable, but discovered shortly after closing that sharing a bath with two grown sons was impossible. It caused her so much tension and strain that she sold less than a year later. It cost her money to sell and more money to buy a two-bathroom home in another neighborhood. If the market had been depressed or a buyer’s market, she could have lost everything, like this next guy, instead of simply spending a lot more money than was necessary.

Another buyer purchased a home that cost him about $100,000 more than he was comfortable spending. But he fell in love with the Victorian character: the high ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and wide-planked floors. A year later, he could no longer afford to make his mortgage payment. The house was too expensive for him to maintain. He would have been better off buying a smaller home in a more modest neighborhood. But he let his soaring emotions cloud his good judgment. Since his purchase, the market softened and he could not sell. He lost his home to a short sale.

12 Safety Tips For Women Home Buyers

Women have special concerns about personal safety. The US Census Bureau says there are more than 14 million women who live alone in cities. Moreover, 118.5 million women populate cities and their suburbs.

As security issues loom large in our cities, single women make up more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994. More single women buy homes than ever before.

Some builders and city planners are increasing security measures as they begin to recognize that many homes, condominiums, parking lots, streets and sidewalks are not designed with women in mind. A few cities even offer classes to help prepare women who are afraid to take public transportation.

Women Home Buyers Fear Violence

My mother taught me to walk at a brisk pace in public places if I felt uneasy. She said women with a confident walk are less likely to be prone to violence because attackers look for easy prey. It’s advice I heed.

Violence is a concern because many lower-priced homes that an average single woman can easily afford to buy are located in or near crime-ridden neighborhoods. The evening news and daily newspapers report on a multitude of crimes every day and dwell on the sensational ones. For good reasons, this may fuel womens’ fear of :

* Assault

* Rape

* Mugging

* Harassment

* Murder

Fear is a healthy emotion. Women should listen to their guts. A good book that talks about how to predict violence and listen to your internal signals for survival is The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker.

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12 Home Buying Safety Tips for Single Women

None of this is meant to be frighten women away from buying a home, but to help prepare women for home ownership safety and to offer tips on finding the right home by shopping with security at the forefront.

Here are home shopping tips for safety-conscious home buying:

* Buy Homes With Attached Garages.

When winter arrives, the days get shorter, which means by the time day-shift workers arrive home, it’s already dark. Consider how you might feel walking in the dark toward the house if your garage were detached. Insist on an electronic garage door opener.

* Consider Gated Communities

Ask how often the gate code is changed. Most homeowner associations routinely change the codes to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. Check to make sure the gate is timed to close before a second car can enter.

* Pay Attention to Lighting

No woman wants to feel like a prisoner in her own home. Most of us enjoy living in a neighborhood where we can feel free to take a stroll after dinner or walk to the grocery store. Abundant street lighting and motion-sensor lights offer more security than dimly lit areas.

* Buy Homes With Security Systems

Find out if the security system is leased or owned and how much it costs per month. Ask for an explanation about how the home is wired, and whether all the doors and windows are monitored on the system. Determine who answers breaches — whether it’s the police or the security alarm staff.

* Inspect Door Locks and Door Jambs

Look at the door jamb to determine if it’s been cracked or repaired. Notice if the lock is new. If you notice a damaged door jamb or a new lock, ask why. A screen door that acts as a security door with its own locking system provides more protection. Also, make sure all exterior doors have strong deadbolts, which unlock from the inside — for fire safety reasons — without a key.

* Check Location of Bedrooms

Second-floor bedrooms might appear safer, but the likelihood is the distance from the first floor could make them effectively soundproof, so sounds of a break-in may not travel to the second floor. It’s also more difficult to escape from a second-floor bedroom if the threat is a fire rather than a burglar. Burglars tend to prefer quiet locations where they can go about the business of breaking in without being seen from the street.

* Consider Condos Above the Main Floor

Criminals don’t want to bother with climbing stairs, taking an elevator or being noticed in a building, which is why first-floor condos tend to attract more crime. Condos that face the street are often considered more secure than those toward the back.

* Inspect the Windows

Single-pane windows are easier to break than dual pane. If any of the exterior doors have large windows of glass, make sure the door knob is located far enough away from the window to discourage break-ins. It’s easy to break into a home by smashing a window, reaching inside and turning the door knob.

* Beware of Homes on an Alley

Alleys are quiet, generally dark at night, and provide ways for criminals to approach your home — unnoticed by the neighbors. Alleys provide easy escape routes as well. Some neighborhoods are installing gates on alleys to discourage public access to private homes.

* Pull Neighborhood Crime Reports

Most city police departments report crime statistics online. Search for your city name and police to find a local web site. You can also look at the FBI’s national registry of sex offenders to determine how many sexual predators live in your area. You’ll be amazed.

* Check Out the Neighboring Structures

Some studies show that crime is higher in mixed-use neighborhoods than in subdivisions or communities of single family homes. They say that mixed-use, such as apartment buildings or commercial properties located among residential, increases crime because residents lose control over who can loiter.

* Buy Homes With a Fenced Back Yard

A fenced yard discourages crime because it makes it harder for unauthorized persons to gain access. In addition, you might want to consider adopting a dog, since fenced yards provide a play area for dogs. Dogs make great companions and offer a sense of security for some women. It’s not necessary to get a big dog, either, as little dogs can often yap louder and more incessantly than big dogs. Your neighbors will love that!

NAR Conducts Bank Performance Survey for Distressed Sales

I suspect there are two camps of people who like to fill out surveys — those who are busting at the seams for the chance to share glowing reviews and those with a rant or need to vent, and not much else in between.

Put me in the rant camp. It’s a lot more fun, for example, to read an Ebert movie review of a bad movie than a good one. But you can imagine my delight when I discovered that the National Association of Realtors was conducting a survey among its members. NAR is interested in hearing about the experiences of agents nationwide who are working with the four largest lenders in distressed transactions.

The lenders are Bank of America, CitiMortgage, Wells Fargo Bank and J. P. Morgan Chase. NAR is meeting with these lenders to discuss the ongoing challenges we in the industry face. You might want to contact your REALTOR® or NAR if you’ve got a gripe that you want heard. Anybody who bought or sold a distressed property over the past four years most likely has a complaint.

Get Loan Pre approval

Few people can buy a Tallahassee home for cash. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), nearly nine out of 10 buyers finance their purchase, which means that virtually all buyers — especially first-time purchasers — required a loan.

The real issue with real estate financing is not getting a loan (virtually anyone willing to pay lofty interest rates can find a mortgage). Instead, the idea is to get the loan that’s right for you — the mortgage with the lowest cost and best terms.

REALTORS® routinely suggest that consumers start the mortgage process well before bidding on a home. Many lenders (the sources of money) and programs, for example, are available right here in the finance section of Realtor.com as well as through recommendations from local REALTORS®. By meeting with lenders — either online or face to face — and looking at loan options, you will find which programs best meet your needs and how much you can afford.

REALTORS® also recommend pre approvals for another reason: Purchase forms often require buyers to apply for financing within a given time period, in many cases, seven to 10 days. By meeting with loan officers in advance and identifying mortgage programs, it won’t be necessary to quickly find a lender, check credit, and rush into a financing decision that may not be the best option.

What is it?

“Pre-approval” means you have met with a loan officer, your credit files have been reviewed and the loan officer believes you can readily qualify for a given loan amount with one or more specific mortgage programs. Based on this information, the lender will provide a pre approval letter, which shows your borrowing power. You can visit as many lenders as you like and get several pre-approvals, but keep in mind that each one carries with it a new credit check, which will show up on future credit reports.

Although not a final loan commitment, the pre approval letter can be shown to listing brokers when bidding on a home. It demonstrates your financial strength and shows that you have the ability to go through with a purchase. This information is important to owners since they do not want to accept an offer that is likely to fail because financing cannot be obtained.

How do you get pre-approval?

Real estate financing is available from numerous sources, including lenders here in the finance section of Realtor.com, mortgage companies that have worked with local REALTORS® and in some cases, individual REALTORS® themselves. Based on his or her experience, the REALTOR® may suggest one or more lenders with a history of offering competitive programs and delivering promised rates and terms.

The loan officer will carefully review your financial situation, including your credit report and other information. The lender will then suggest programs which most-closely meet your needs. For instance, a first-time buyer may qualify for state-backed mortgage programs with little money down and low interest rates, while a repeat purchaser (someone who has bought a home before) with more equity (money invested in the home) might want to get a 15-year loan and the lower overall interest costs it represents. Typically, first-time buyers opt for the traditional 30-year loan, with either a floating interest rate or a fixed rate of interest over the life of the loan.

Will China’s Real Estate Bubble Burst?

Two years after the US subprime crisis, China is seeing its own real estate bubble as a result of massive state stimulus programs. Many economists are warning it could burst soon.” Spiegel says the consequences for the world economy are difficult to predict: “The bubble could burst in two years, says Cao Jianhai of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, and then it will be up to Hu’s and Wen’s successors to correct the situation. In the worst case, Cao predicts, there could be a large-scale run on the banks. ‘Of the 4 trillion yuan in the Chinese economic stimulus package, 3 trillion are in fact coming from local governments—and they borrowed the money from the banks.

Tax benefits of owning a Tallahassee home

Buying a Tallahassee home is the biggest investment many people ever make. And it can be the wisest, due partly to a number of tax advantages the government has instituted to encourage home ownership. These benefits can help reduce the cost of buying and owning a home and also leave you with more money when it’s time to sell.

Because tax rules vary based on income and other factors, you should consult an accountant or financial advisor for advice on your particular tax situation.

Mortgage interest

One of the biggest incentives to owning a home is that the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible, up to a limit of $1 million. This deduction, like most other tax breaks for homeowners, applies to any kind of home. That includes a second home, as long as you spend a certain amount of time there: either 14 days each year, or 10 percent as much time as it’s rented.

In addition, you can deduct the interest on up to $100,000 of other debt that uses your home as security — for example, a home equity loan. However, the amount you can deduct may be limited if the money you borrow raises your debt above the home’s actual market value. This can sometimes happen when a lender extends you a loan based on more than the value of the house.

You can also deduct any amount you pay for points to reduce the interest rate of your mortgage or other loan linked to your home. In most cases, the points on a mortgage to buy or build your principal home can be deducted fully in the first year. However, if you refinance, take a home equity loan, or a loan secured by a second home, the points must be deducted over the life of the new loan. The exception is if you use part of a refinanced mortgage to improve your house; that portion of the points can be deducted in the same year.

Tax-free profits

Another major advantage of home ownership is that, in most cases, you don’t have to pay taxes on any profit you make when you sell your home. The law allows you to exclude from taxes up to $250,000 in profit from the sale of your principal home — $500,000 for a couple who file jointly. This exclusion also covers the sale of a parcel of land adjacent to your house, unless it’s used for business.

There are some stipulations, however. The home must be your principal residence, and you (and your spouse, where applicable) must have lived there for at least two of the previous five years. You can only claim the exemption once every two years. If you don’t meet those requirements, you may still claim a partial exemption if the sale was due to a change in your place of employment, necessary for health reasons, or due to other unforeseen circumstances.

Property taxes

You can claim property taxes you pay as an income tax deduction. This applies to both your principal home and any others you may own. Any money held in escrow to pay future taxes, however, is not deductible.

Moving expenses

The government allows you to write off many of your moving costs when you buy a new home if it’s at least 50 miles closer to your job than your old home. To qualify, you must continue to work full-time in the general area of your job for 39 weeks during the following year. If you’re self-employed and work in your home, any move of 50 miles or more will make your moving expenses deductible. However, you must also work full-time near the new location for 78 weeks during the next 24 months.

Of course, because tax rules vary based on income and other factors, be sure to consult an accountant or financial advisor about your particular situation.

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Quitclaim Deed Definition

Definition: Quitclaim deeds transfer or “quit” any interest in real property. The grantor may not be in title at all, so the grantee cannot assume that the grantor has any real interest to convey. However, if the grantor were, say, married to the owner of the property, signing and recording a quitclaim deed in favor of the spouse would transfer any interest the grantor may have in the property to the spouse.
Common Misspellings: quick claim deed, quit claim deed
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