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Negotiation 101

by Desi Sowers

It seems that negotiation has become a lost art in the world of real estate, and that’s unfortunate because the truth of the matter is, if you don’t ask…you don’t get. While sellers want the highest price and buyers want the best deal, they must meet somewhere in the middle for the deal to close. Negotiation is a vital part of selling or buying a home because it is the largest asset people own and there is a lot of money at stake. Here are some guidelines for what sellers and buyers might ask for in real estate negotiations:

  1. Price

Negotiating the best price means different things for sellers and buyers.  The seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants to pay as little as possible.  For a successful transaction, they have to compromise and come up with a price that is acceptable to both.

  1. Closing Costs

Prepaid closing costs are paid by buyers for their mortgage.  These are funds that the mortgage lender holds in escrow for expenses like taxes and insurance.  A buyer may ask a seller to cover some or all their closing costs either with a flat dollar amount or up to a percentage of what’s an allowable contribution for a lender.  If a buyer asks the seller to do this, they are likely going to pay a higher asking price.

  1. Closing Date

Sometimes sellers want to get out of a home quickly because they need the capital from that house they are selling to put toward a new real estate purchase.  The closing date will also affect they buyer’s monthly cash-flow because when a buyer closes on a house, they skip the next month’s mortgage payment, therefore they may want to negotiate to close at the beginning of a month.

  1. Financing Contingencies

When there is a financing contingency in place for a real estate transaction, it can tie up a seller’s property for a required 30 to 60 days.  For this reason, many buyers prefer buyers coming to the table with cash offers. If you are competing with cash buyers, you may want to figure out if you can drop the financial contingency, which will shorten the closing time line. You can do this by getting pre-approved for a home loan prior to making an offer.  Mortgage preapproval shows that your finances are in order and you can afford the home.

  1. Home Warranty

As a buyer, you can request a home warranty. As a seller, you can offer one.  This home protection plan covers things like appliances and systems such as the hot water heater or air conditioning, in the event they repair or replacement.

  1. Leaseback

The moving process is stressful and labor intensive.  Sometimes a seller will need extra time to get into their new home.  When this happens, buyers can offer a zero-cost rent-back for 30 to 90 days to persuade the seller to accept their offer over others. 

  1. Home Repairs

With a home that needs a lot of updating there comes ample opportunity for negotiation. Buyers need to consider the cost of bringing the home up to current standards and use the estimate of that cost to request a lower asking price.  The seller, on the other hand, can specify that the house is being sold “as is” and not offer any repairs.

  1. Appraisal Contingency

A seller can push for a buyer to waive the appraisal contingency, however, if for some reason the appraisal falls short of the expected amount, they need to be prepared for the amount of cash they might have to pay should the bank only be willing to lend them money based on the appraised value.

  1. Furniture

Personal property such as patio furniture, window treatments and chandeliers is all up for grabs.  If the buyer can ask for these things to be included in the contract.  Sellers need to determine what they are willing to leave behind.  And any exclusions need to be specifically listed in the contract as well.

  1. Appliances

Depending on the market, sellers don’t always leave every appliance for the buyer.  They may include the dishwasher, stove and built in microwave in the contract but not the refrigerator, washer and dryer.  Sometimes they don’t want to give everything away up front so that they can use these as items for negotiation.

  1. Inspection

When sellers waive inspection, they often find themselves with "buyer's remorse", but they can try to shorten the time frame for inspection, from ten days to five.  However, today’s lending practices and the TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) make this hard to do.

  1. Condo/Co-op Assessments

These are fees that are used to maintain common areas in a community. If there is an open assessment, it can become a negotiation between the buyer and seller as to who will pay for it.

 

If you are interested in buying or selling a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

 

The Upside to Downsizing

by Desi Sowers

Have you recently become an empty nester with a home spacious enough for a large family?  Maybe it’s time to consider downsizing.  There are numerous perks to downsizing to a smaller home:

  • Saving money.  You will not only save on your monthly mortgage payment in a smaller home, you will also save money on frivolous living.  One of the advantages of downsizing your home is that you can stop wasting money on furniture, and home décor that are used to fill space rather than to fulfill a function.  Filling a smaller space will allow you to prioritize what items are important and necessary for you.
  • Less stress.  After working hard all week to pay the bills, it’s no fun to have to spend your weekend doing chores.  A smaller home equals fewer chores and less upkeep. This will free up time for leisure activities for enjoyment and relaxation.
  • Save energy. If you live in a large home, you know that energy costs can be expensive.  Smaller homes will not only save you money on heating, cooling and water costs, it will also allow you to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Free time for travel.  With additional disposable income and less upkeep needed, a smaller home will afford you the time and cash for travel and adventure.  Weekend getaways or even long trips are less of a hassle now that you don’t have to worry about being house-poor.
  • A new beginning. Downsizing can be the beginning of a new chapter in your life.  If being an empty nester has you feeling down, a lifestyle change might be just what you need to start focusing on how you want to spend your time, money and energy. 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Space-Planners

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Pulaski-County-Home-Sales-January-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Increasing-Your-Down-Payment

If you are interested in buying or selling a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

5 MORE Foreclosure Myths - BUSTED!

by Desi Sowers

5 MORE Foreclosure Myths - BUSTED!

Four years into the housing crisis, myths about foreclosure still litter the minds of even the smartest of real estate consumers. When it comes to matters as high stakes as your home, confusion can cost you thousands - or even your home. Whether you’re a buyer looking at foreclosures, a homeowner struggling to keep your home or a seller concerned making sure your home can compete with the foreclosed homes on your block, these foreclosure myths are prime for the busting, with no further ado. 

Myth #1:  Foreclosure happens fast. With unemployment and underemployment still affecting nearly 1 in every 4 Americans, no one is immune from fears that a pink slip might quickly turn into a foreclosure notice.  According to NeighborWorks America, nearly 60 percent of families seeking foreclosure counseling cited a lost job or cut wages as the reason they were facing foreclosure.  

While the Obama Administration's Home Affordable Programs haven't been nearly as effective as predicted in actually preventing foreclosures, they have had the effect of extending the foreclosure process for many families.   Even though the legal process of foreclosure can happen in as few as 6 months in most states, it is currently taking much longer for the average foreclosure to get to completion.  Recently, JP Morgan Chase revealed that their average borrower who loses a home to foreclosure has not made any payments in 14 months nationwide; 22 months in FLorida and 26 months in New York.

To be sure, some see this as a good, others view it as unnecessarily dragging out the overall market's recovery. Many insiders will point out that these delays in foreclosure may be calculated to save the banks the costs of owning and maintaining foreclosed homes, not to help homeowners.  In any event, the fact that foreclosure does not happen nearly as fast, in many cases, as expected does give families who are temporarily down on their luck some extra time to try to get back on their feet and save their homes.

Myth #2:  Buyers can’t get clear title or title insurance on foreclosed homes.  When the foreclosure robo-signing scandal first hit, there was widespread concern that buyers would not be able to get clear title on foreclosed homes, because the former foreclosed owners might be able to come get their homes back when the improprieties in the bank's foreclosure documentation processes came fully to light.  At the same time, several of the country's largest title insurance companies publicly balked at issuing policies on bank-owned homes until the issue was resolved.  At this point, the banks claim they have revamped their processes, and all banks have stated that they have found not a single borrower whose home was repossessed without them having missed the requisite number of mortgage payments.  Nevertheless, a number of governmental investigations are still in progress.

The fact is, buyers of bank-owned properties in nearly every jurisdiction are protected from later title attacks by foreclosed homeowners by the bona fide purchaser rule, under which courts would prefer to simply award cash damages to be paid by the culpable bank to a wrongfully foreclosed-on homeowner, rather than reversing the sale or ownership to the new, innocent buyer.  Additionally, the title insurers have now changed their tune and restarted issuing insurance policies on bank-owned homes which protect buyers' interests, after working with the banks for them to take responsibility in the event a former homeowner prevails in a wrongful foreclosure suit.  

While there are still many intricacies of title to be resolved for foreclosure buyers who purchase homes at trustee sales and auctions, or for cash buyers who often went without title insurance in the past, on the average, Trulia-listed, bank-owned property purchased with an average mortgage and title insurance, the chances a buyer's title will later be successfully challenged by the foreclosed homeowner on the basis of robo-signing?  Exceedingly slim.

Myth #3:  Buyers should wait for the shadow inventory to be released.  Many a buyer, discouraged with the homes they see on the the form in their price range, has decided to sit still and wait for the banks to release for sale what is called their "shadow inventory" - rumored to be anywhere from 4 to nearly 6 million homes that have already been foreclosed, but not listed for sale, or will be foreclosed in the near future. The fact is, to the extent that the banks have acknowledged the existence of a pool of homes they own but are not selling, they have expressed that their reasoning for holding the homes off the market is to avoid flooding the market and driving home values down any further.  For that reason, buyers should not expect to see a massive influx of these shadow homes onto the market anytime soon - if ever. 

The banks' current modus operandi is that as they sell a home, the replace it with another home in that market - if they sell 50 homes in a town that month, they'll put another 50 on the next.  So, don't hold your breath waiting for a fabulous new flood of homes.  Instead, set up a Trulia alert to notify you when homes that fit your search criteria come on the market, and be ready to call your agent and go visit any and every one that looks like it might be a good fit.

Myth #4:  If you’re looking for a deal, you’re looking for a foreclosure.  Despite what they may say, no buyer’s heart's fondest desire is to buy a foreclosure.  But almost every buyer dreams of buying a great home - and getting a great deal on it.  Many people think that to get a great value on their home on today's market, it means they must buy a foreclosure.  As a result, the value and other advantages of buying an individually-owned home on today's market are frequently overlooked.  Individual sellers with homes on the market right now are generally quite motivated, and understand that their homes are competing with discounted short sales and foreclosed homes.  Many of these sellers are slashing prices in an effort to get them sold - the most recent Trulia Price Reduction Report revealed that 27 percent of homes on the market across the country have had at least one price reduction.  Now that's what I call a sale!

Further, individual owners are often much more negotiable on a wide range of contract terms than a bank which owns a foreclosed home.  You can work with non-bank owners on things like repairs, closing dates, choice of escrow provider, closing costs and even included personal property much more flexibly than you can when the bank is on the other side of the bargaining table.  On top of that, many individually-owned homes are in pristine, move-in condition; that is much rarer with foreclosures.  So, don't underestimate the value of the deal you might be able to get on a non-foreclosed home.  Just get clear on what you can afford and look at all the homes that are available in that price range, without discriminating against non-foreclosures.

Myth #5: Having a foreclosure on your credit history means it'll take years and years before you can buy again. One of the most Frequently Asked Questions in the Trulia Voices Community by homeowners who are facing or have just lost a home through foreclosure is how long it will take before they'll be able to buy again.  Until recently, the standard wisdom was that 5 years, minimum, would have to have elapsed between the foreclosure and the new home purchase.  Now, though, borrowers can obtain an FHA loan with the low, 3.5 minimum down payment requirement as soon as 3 years following a foreclosure.  To do so, though, all your other ducks must be in a row.  

Post-foreclosure buyers need a credit score of 620-640 to qualify for an FHA loan; higher for a non-FHA loan - given that the foreclosure itself usually dings anywhere from 100-150 points off the credit score (not necessarily counting a full year or more of pre-foreclosure missed payments), former homeowners who want to buy again need to ensure they have no other late payments or credit dings after they lose thier home.  You must have clean credit with no derogatory marks like late credit card payments following the foreclosure,  and you may also be required to document 12 to 24 months straight of on-time rent payments after the foreclosure.  

Further, the bank may impose a lower debt-to-income ratio on post-foreclosure borrowers than on borrowers who have not had a foreclosure, in an effort to keep your mortgage payments low, keep you from overextending yourself and boost the chances you'll be a successful homeowner over the long-term this time around.  The bank will also need to see 2 years of continuous employment history in the same field, and documentation that you meet other loan qualification requirements.

Written by Tara-Nicholle Nelson 

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