As I pulled into my driveway in Vienna, so ended a long trip through New England ranging from fun in Acadia National Park to the sunny shores of Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Being a real estate agent can spark a conversation almost anywhere, and I wound up answering questions from friends who are considering buying a property in Colorado. The questions are common ones but still very important to anyone who is planning to make an offer whether or not they are in Virginia or Colorado.
- Have pre-approved financing, and an approval letter or letters from your lender to submit with your offer.
- There may be a minimum Earnest Money Deposit required with your offer, so check the MLS listing sheet. If accepted, then this money get deposited in an escrow account and is part of your down-payment.
- Have your agent ask if there are other offers, or if there have been other offers. I feel that it is strategically important to know this fact before submitting an offer.
- Review the typical costs involved in buying a home such as an appraisal, lender fees, points, transfer taxes, title insurance, or other common expenses.
- Understand the monthly payment including principle, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI). With interest rates so low, you may be surprised what it could have been a year ago when rates were closer to 6.5%.
- Ask about time-frames. The mortgage lender may need 30-45 days to close, or the seller may need or prefer to close on a certain date. Again, a key part of your offer.
- Is this home a good deal, and if you don’t get it are there other homes that meet your needs?
- The $8,000 first-time home-buyer tax credit has a deadline of December 1st, 2009, and has an income cap of $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers. These numbers are MAGI and are prorated above the income caps. See a tax preparer for advice.
- There are tons of deals out there… not! Home buying has been very active in Northern Virginia and many places around the country due to low rates and a supply of discounted homes for sale. You may have missed the boat.
As I arrived in Rhode Island, I bumped into an old friend and his father as they came up from surf-casting and lugging all their fishing gear. It seems that his parents are selling their ocean-front home, an amazing property, and no one was biting on the $6.7 million asking price. Since I had seen the property advertised in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine and had looked it up on-line, I knew what the listing needed and fast.
- More photos. This home has fantastic flower gardens that are right out of Martha Stewart Living. This unique feature was not shown but is highly coveted by buyers in that price range!
- Understanding your audience. This home is more than a house; it is a treasure for anyone hoping to own a 19th century home with a 180° unobstructed Atlantic Ocean view.
- Online picture quality. Since 95% of people now house hunt online, make sure that the photo they find is of high quality.
While these were my friends asking me for advice, I was happy to share my experience with them to help them achieve their goals. Vacations are for re-connecting with family and friends, and this vacation gave me an opportunity to give back a little to people who have given me much for 40+ years.
By the way, although I thought that I broke my leg on Saturday, the x-ray technician did not see a fracture. I am still waiting to hear from the doc!