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  • What is a buyer’s agent?
    Just like a seller is typically represented by a realtor, so is a buyer. Your agent (a licensed realtor) will make certain your best interests are represented throughout the transaction. The home buying process is something you should never navigate alone. Your buyer’s agent (aka, realtor) should be able to help you every step of the way–from narrowing down the best neighborhood for your needs, to scouting out the perfect properties.
  • Is it a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage?
    Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is highly recommended in a competitive real estate market as it puts you in a much stronger position to negotiate. You’ll want to ensure you get a true pre-approval letter from a reputable lender, not just a generic pre-qualification letter. Rates matter but service and commitment to closing the loan matter more.
  • What is earnest money/hand money?
    Earnest money is often described as a “good-faith deposit” from an interested buyer. The amount is usually 1–3% of the home’s purchase price, and it shows the seller that the buyer is serious about closing the deal. As the sale is pending, the earnest money is placed in escrow (an account held by a third party until the sale is finalized). At closing, the funds can go towards closing costs or a down payment on the home. If the buyer has to back out of purchasing the home due to a contingency in the escrow agreement, they will get their earnest money back. However, if the buyer chooses to back out of the deal for any other reason, the money will go to the seller instead.
  • How much house can I afford?
    I advise every buyer to meet with a lender to get pre-approved and also to get a solid idea of just how much house they can buy. There is no requirement to buy at the top of your approved price point but there is nothing worse than falling in love with a place only to find out you cannot afford the price tag. A good rule of thumb is 35% or so of your gross monthly income dictates your monthly housing payment, be it rent or a mortgage. The price point for a purchase is then determined by mortgage interest rates (to calculate the principal and interest payment), property taxes and monthly assessment cost.
  • If I work with an agent, do I pay their fee?
    You don’t pay your buyer agent’s fee–the seller does. But keep in mind the seller has likely factored a commission into their list price. The seller pays their agent and the seller’s agent offers a buyer’s agent a portion of that commission, typically 40 to 50%. When you work with a savvy and experienced realtor you get access to their insider knowledge, strong negotiating skills and an advocate for your best interests… and a good agent will likely negotiate a better deal for her client then they would get going it alone.
  • What is the neighborhood like?
    A common question when house hunting is ‘how is the neighborhood?’. For real estate professionals, there are strict rules about what an agent can and cannot say about a neighborhood. But there is plenty a well informed realtor can share about a neighborhood, the local economy, crime statistics, assessed value of various property types and if the neighborhood is a match to your wish list. If you have a top Realtor when buying a home, you will receive all of the pertinent information to allow you to make an educated decision on the best neighborhood, and sub-neighborhood for you.
  • FHA loan
    What is FHA? A Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan is a home mortgage that is insured by the government and issued by a bank or other lender that is approved by the agency. FHA loans require a lower minimum down payment than many conventional loans, and applicants may have lower credit score than is usually required. Credit Scores and Down Payments FHA loans are available to individuals with credit scores as low as 500. If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you may be able to secure an FHA loan, assuming you can afford a down payment of 10%. Meanwhile, if your credit score is 580 or higher, you can get an FHA loan with a down payment of as little as 3.5%. FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIPs) An FHA loan requires that you pay two types of mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs)—an upfront MIP and an annual MIP, which is paid monthly. In 2022, the upfront MIP is equal to 1.75% of the base loan amount. FHA Debt-to-Income Ratio Guideline FHA lenders consider two different ratios before issuing a loan. The first one is the payment-to-income ratio (PTI), or front-end debt ratio, which is your proposed monthly mortgage payments to your monthly income. The second ratio is debt-to-income (DTI), which is your net income spend on monthly debt payments (rent, current mortgage, credit cards, loans, etc.). Our debt-to-income ratio worksheet can help you calculate yours. The FHA requires borrowers to have a DTI that doesn’t exceed 50% and a PTI that’s no higher than 40%. Homes That Qualify for an FHA Loan Usually, the property financed must be your principal residence and must be owner-occupied. In other words, the FHA loan program is not intended for investment or rental properties. Detached and semi-detached houses, townhouses, rowhouses, and condominiums within FHA-approved condo projects are all eligible for FHA financing. Limits County One-Family Two-Family Three-Family Four-Family BROWARD $ 460,000 $ 588,850 $ 711,800 $ 884,600 MIAMI-DADE $ 460,000 $ 588,850 $ 711,800 $ 884,600 PALM BEACH $ 460,000 $ 588,850 $ 711,800 $ 884,600 ORANGE $ 420,680 $ 538,650 $ 651,050 $ 809,150 ST. LUCIE $ 431,250 $ 552,050 $ 667,350 $ 829,350 MONROE $ 710,700 $ 909,800 $ 1,099,750 $ 1,366,750 FHA Closing Costs When financing an FHA home loan, it’s important to budget for closing costs and fees, which are the expenses you pay to complete a real estate transaction. These cost amounts will vary by state, lender, and vendors. Some closing costs are specific only to FHA loans. In Florida, the average closing cost fee is between 2.05% and 2.75% of the total purchase price. Here’s a checklist of common closing costs: Lender’s origination fee: This is usually 0.5% to 1% of the loan amount that lenders sometimes charge as compensation for loan processing and other fees. Underwriting fee: Many lenders, but not all, will charge an underwriting fee to cover the cost of evaluating the loan application. This may be in lieu of or in addition to an origination fee. The average cost is between $400 and $900. Document preparation fee: This fee is usually around $50-$100 and covers the cost for managing loan paperwork and documents. Appraisal fee: This is what you pay for the appraiser to estimate a home’s market value. It’s typically between $300 and $500. The lender will require an FHA-approved professional appraiser. Home inspection: The FHA does not require a home inspection, but it’s important for buyers to get one to identify the home’s problems (and if it’s worth buying). The typical cost of a home inspection is around $300. You may also need a separate inspection for a septic tank if your home has one. Homeowner's insurance: This amount will vary based on the home and location (from $800 to $2,500 a year), but with most FHA loans, you’ll need to pay this in advance before closing. Property survey: This will identify the property’s boundaries, any new structures or additions too close to a property line, and any neighboring items that encroach on the property (about $500). You can also see if the home has an existing property survey at your town hall (which may work if the home hasn’t had any property changes since then). Title search and insurance fees: These are often quite the lion’s share of closing costs, as they’re often between $1,000 to $1,200 to cover the cost of having a title company do research on any liens against the property, and along with title insurance, this protects you against any lien claims or future deeds against your property. FHA Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UPMIP): As previously mentioned, this is 1.75% of the loan amount. Other possible closing costs: credit report fee, application fee, discount fee, attorney fee, tax service fee, recording fee, wire transfer fee, pre-paid property tax, tax escrows, notary fee, courier fee, and flood certification fee. Tip: Be sure to ask the lender if they can waive or lower any of these fees. You can also try to negotiate with the seller to pay for some of them (or a percentage of them), use a gift of cash from a friend or family member, or roll some of the costs into your loan. FHA Required Documents You’ll also need the following to apply for an FHA loan: 1) Minimum of two established credit accounts (for example, loans or credit cards) and not have any delinquent federal debt, judgements, or past FHA insured mortgage debts 2) Valid government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport 3) Proof of a Social Security number 4) Up to two years’ worth of original pay stubs, W-2 forms, or valid tax returns Feel free to contact us if you need more information. We work with Guaranteed Rate’s and will be sure you have the best service.
  • Other key terms
    Contingencies These are conditions to be satisfied by a certain date to the satisfaction of the person requesting them. There are usually several contingencies to be met in a sale: two “biggies” are loan approval and physical inspections. Home Inspection It is important to get the home inspected by a licensed contractor who does professional home inspections. Get a thorough inspection from the foundation to the chimney to the main line sewer, with a written report of any problems. The home inspection, about $ 375-500, is paid for by the buyer. (Additional inspectors, such as chimney inspectors or geological inspectors, cost extra.) It’s worth it, and can really educate you about your house and problems to watch for. Don’t even think of buying a house without one. The inspections usually take place as soon as the offer is accepted as there typically is a deadline to have one done. Loan Info
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  • Do I need a real estate agent to sell my home?
    You are not required to use a real estate agent to sell your home. But a top level realtor will ensure you get the best price and deal terms for the sale. She will also make certain you get to the closing table. I have a project checklist for every listing; there are 98 items on the checklist, from listing the house to closing… that’s alot of ‘to-do’ items for a homeowner to handle on their own.
  • How much commission does a realtor charge?
    There is no pre-determined commission fee and often the total commission will depend on the list price of the home. As a general rule, a brokerage firm charges 5 to 7% commission, sharing 35 to 50% of their commission with a buyer’s agent. For properties priced at a lower price range the commission may lean closer to 6 or 7% for a full service brokerage firm. Million dollar listings may have a commission rate of 5% and for multiple millions perhaps an even lower commission rate. A top level realtor is worth her fee and remember, you get what you pay for. There are discount services that will rebate a few thousand dollars to the buyer or seller but they may lose double or triple that in a negotiation through lack of market knowledge.
  • What is the most important thing I can do to ensure my home sells?
    Make sure your home is in line with the competition during the time listed. The market is constantly changing; properties are listed daily and hopefully selling just as often. Your agent should actively monitor the market to make sure your listing is positioned as it should be among competing listings. Next, first impressions matter! Staging is key, as is attending to any minor tune-ups; fingerprints on the wall, spider webs in the corners of the windows, stale smelling carpet, dirty screens, a garden that could be tended to by Morticia…
  • How do I set the asking price?
    Setting the asking price for house is one of the most important determinants of how quickly your house will sell. The consequences of making the wrong decision are painful. If you price your house too low, you will be giving away thousands of dollars that could have been in your pocket. If you price it too high, your house will sit unsold for months (or years in some cases), developing a reputation that something is wrong with the property. To estimate the appropriate list price and likely selling price of your home, your realtor will analyze a data report called a Comparable Market Analysis or CMA. They will look at comparable homes (also referred to as “comps” ) in the immediate neighborhood that they believes are relevant to your home and that have sold within the past 3-6 months.
  • Why is my home’s assessed value different from the market value?
    Your home's assessed value and market value are each determined by different factors. Buyers and sellers affect the market value of a home, while professional appraisers calculate the assessed value. In a seller’s market, your home’s market value may be higher than its assessed value. That’s because buyers are willing to pay more than the home is technically worth because of low inventory. In a buyer’s market, you’ll be facing a lot of competition from other sellers, so buyers may put in an offer lower than the home’s assessed value.
  • Do I need a home inspection?
    It’s the buyer’s responsibility to get a home inspection, so as the seller, you don’t need to get one. An inspection usually ranges from $300–500. That said, a pre-listing inspection does have some benefits: -You’ll have the chance to discover and take care of major problems before listing, which could increase the value of your home. -You’ll get to choose your own inspector instead of relying on the buyer’s choice. -You may be able to set a higher list price if your home is in great shape. -You can encourage the buyer to waive the inspection contingency, meaning there will be fewer chances for your deal to fall through.
  • Do I need a real estate agent when renting?
    You are not required to use a real estate agent to rent an apartment, house or condo. But a top level realtor will ensure you get the best price and deal terms for the rental. They will also make certain your application is pitch perfect to ensure the landlord accepts your application… very important in a hot rental market. I have a project checklist for the rental process; there are 45 items on the checklist, from viewing properties to signing the lease… that’s alot of ‘to-do’ items for a prospective renter to handle on their own.
  • Do I have to pay my rental agent?
    Typically the landlord pays their leasing agent and the leasing agent splits this fee with the tenant’s realtor. In a situation where the landlord does not have an agent he or she will generally pay the tenant’s realtor one half of one month’s rent as commission.
  • How many upfront costs will I pay for renting?
    In general, a tenant will pay an application fee ($100 to $200), first month and last month rent and one month security deposit. Some landlords charge an extra deposit for pets and for additional occupants.
  • What maintenance is a renter responsible for?
    Tenants are responsible for treating the property with care, maintaining a reasonable level of cleanliness and not being abusive or neglectful. This includes: Plumbing Fixtures: Tenants must keep all plumbing fixtures reasonably clean to prevent rust, soap scum buildup, mold or excessive dirt
  • How long does a landlord have to make a repair in Florida?
    Your landlord has seven days to make a repair in Florida before you can terminate you lease agreement. Assuming that the issue you're dealing with is a violation of Florida's warranty of habitability, state law first requires that you notify your landlord of the issue and allow seven days for it to be fixed.
  • What can't a landlord do?
    According to the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot discriminate based on nationality, gender, race, disability or family status. The Fair Housing Act also states that the landlord cannot say that an apartment is not available when it is, can't harass you and can't end a lease due to race, gender or family status.
  • Landlord/Tenant Laws:
    Unlike some states, the laws governing the relationship between a Landlord and a Tenant in Florida are statutory. Please see the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act which is Title VI, Chapter 83, Part II, § 83.40 – § 83.682.
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