My Partner and I Are Making an Offer On a Home, What Does All That Lingo Mean?

When purchasing a home, you will hear many different terms. When you make an offer, you will do so on what is usually a standard form that is called a purchase offer agreement. That is the document that outlines factors including the price you are willing to pay and any contingencies that you would like met. This document will not become a legal contract until you, your partner and the sellers sign it. Following are some other definitions for lingo you may encounter when preparing your offer.

download (1)Appraisal: The determination of what a home’s value is based on its condition, prices of similar homes in the neighborhood, and other factors that are assessed by a qualified professional appraiser.

Closing: This is a meeting of the parties involved to finalize the sale of the real estate. At the closing, the buyer will sign mortgage documents and pay the closing costs involved in the transaction. Note that in some states, a closing is not considered complete until the deed is recorded at the local county registry of deeds office.

Contingency: A condition that is outlined in the purchase contract and that must be met prior to closing on the home. For example, appraisals, inspections and certain repairs that must be made.

Earnest, or Good Faith, Money: The deposit that you make when you submit an offer on a home. The amount varies, but $500 or 5 percent of the value of the property is generally considered acceptable. This deposit is intended to show the sellers that you are serious about purchasing the property.

Fee Simple: Represents that you will own the property and that you may do whatever you like with it.

Mortgage: A debt that you will incur to the lender who provides funds for the purchase of the home. You will be required to give the lender a lien against the property until the funds, plus interest, are repaid.

Real Estate: Includes land and improvements, such as the home and outbuildings, that are permanently attached to it.

Realtor: A broker or associate that is a member of a local real estate board.

Title: The deed that shows legal ownership of a piece of real estate.

Title Insurance Policy: This type of policy ensures that there are no liens or other problems with the property in question.

Another term that you may see is Time is of the Essence. This means that the contract contains deadlines that must be met and that failure to meet those deadlines within the time set out will result in a breach of the contract.

If you are considering making an offer on a home, you should hire an LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she can explain any terms that you do not understand and help you throughout the purchase process. In addition, he or she will understand your needs and protect your interests. The best way to find a professional real estate agent who is reputable is to conduct a search on GayRealEstate.com.

Home Buying Tips for Same Sex Couples

When you find the perfect home that you and your partner would like to purchase, you will begin the process by making a purchase offer. The offer generally includes how much you are offering to pay for the home, contingencies to the purchase such as inspections or financing, and any conveyances you would like included such as furnishings or other assets. It may also include a good faith deposit, generally $500 or 5 percent of the home’s value, to show that you are serious about purchasing the home.

Sold-signBefore making your offer, there are some things that you should consider.

1. Find out why they are selling. If they are selling because they have to make a move for a job change or some other reason that makes them motivated to sell the home quickly they may be willing to negotiate on the asking price.

2. Do not make an offer that is a lot lower than the asking price if it is a fairly priced. This could insult the seller and make him or her unwilling to negotiate any further with you. If the home is fairly priced, you may consider offering a slightly lower amount if you are not buying in a fast paced market where you stand to lose out on the home altogether.

3. Do not show the seller that you are enthusiastic about buying the home. Doing so could    make the sellers think that you want it bad enough to pay a higher price than what you are offering. While this may open negotiations, the seller may be less inclined to lower the price or offer additional perks, such as paying closing costs or making a repair that you would like.

4. Be sure to include logical time frames for obtaining financing, inspections and other           contingencies that you can logically meet. For example, while you may believe that you can obtain financing within two weeks, there is no guarantee that it will happen. You may end up applying at a different mortgage company and miss the deadline. In that case, the agreement can be voided for noncompliance and the seller is free to sell the home to someone else.

The seller has the option of accepting your offer, making a counter offer with or without changes, or rejecting your offer altogether. Keep in mind that just because your offer may be the first, the highest or the best offer the seller has received, he or she has no obligation to accept it. In a few states, the seller is required to accept an offer or take it off the market if the offer is for full price with no contingencies. Generally, sellers have the authority to accept the offer that they prefer.

If the seller rejects your offer altogether, you have the option of submitting another offer. In that case, it would be wise to have your real estate agent, if you have one, find out why the offer was rejected in the first place. That knowledge will give you a base for making a better offer that may be accepted.

If the seller accepts your offer and all parties sign, a ‘meeting of the minds’ takes place and the contract becomes legally binding. This is why it is important to include any contingencies and conveyances that you would like included. Unless the seller is willing to negotiate and modify the purchase agreement, you will be legally liable to follow through on the purchase on the terms submitted in the offer.

If you are considering selling your home, you should consult with an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com. He or she is in the best position to know and discuss the local market with you and guide you through the process of buying a home. In addition, an LGBT real estate agent has the knowledge to guide you through the process of making a purchase offer.

6 Tips for Buying in a Fast Paced Market

When a real estate market is fast paced, homes sell quickly and buyers must make swift decisions to avoid losing a home that they have their heart set on purchasing. Following are 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market.

download1. Know exactly what you are looking for before you start your search so that you will know you found it as soon as you see it. Sit down and make a list of must-haves, then be prepared to overlook less important aspects of a home if it fits your overall requirements of a home that you would love to own.

2. Take a look at your finances and figure out what you can afford, then approach a lender and obtain pre-approval. In a fast paced market, it is imperative that you have your finances in order. A pre-approval letter will let the seller know that you are financially stable and increases the chances of your offer being accepted.

Note that pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will get a loan. It is a letter from a lender that its preliminary qualification determination indicates that you may be eligible for a mortgage of a particular amount.

3. Hire an LGBT real estate agent. They are generally the first to know about new homes that are placed on the market and may know of new listings that fit your needs before they are made public. An agent can point those homes out to you and help you avoid bidding to late and losing the home. In addition, a real estate agent who knows his market will be in a position to help you make quick, informed decisions. For more information on hiring an agent, see our article Top 6 Questions Every Gay Home Buyer Should Ask Their Realtor.

4. Be flexible! If you only allot two days a week or weekends for house hunting, you may lose out on your perfect home.  Be ready to go to showings on short notice from your agent. In a fast paced market, your flexibility can make the difference between being successful in purchasing your dream home or losing it to another buyer.

5. Do not get stuck on the little things. If the home has the must-haves that you decided on, is in good structural shape and is in a neighborhood that you would like to live in, make your bid. Updating the home to suit your tastes can come later.

6. In a fast paced market, if the home is reasonably priced and is what you are looking for, you should not offer a low bid. It would be smarter to offer the asking price rather than be outbid and lose the home. Your real estate agent can help you decide on a competitive offer that is not overpriced, and submit your purchase offer to the seller.

Note that your offer is not legally binding until the seller accepts and signs the document. The seller has the option of making a counteroffer to you if he or she does not agree to your offered terms. Contracts must include what is called “a meeting of the minds” in order to be binding. This means that, in relation to real estate, there must be an offer of either services or money and an acceptance of that offer in return for the real estate at issue. If the seller accepts your offer or you accept the counteroffer and both you and the seller sign the contract, it becomes legally binding.

Most contracts include language that dictates what happens if one of the parties default on the agreement. For example, if financing is a contingency of the contract and you find that you cannot obtain financing, you may lose any earnest money that you put down on the property once the agreement was accepted by the seller. If the seller defaults by deciding not to sell to you, you can sue him or her in a court of law for breach of contract.

In a fast paced market, everything happens quickly. We hope the 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market outlined above help you achieve your goal to purchase your dream home.

What Real Estate Rights does a Civil Union Afford an LGBT Couple

The Colorado Civil Union Act, C.R.S. 14-15-101, became effective on May 1, 2013 making it the only remaining state that allows civil unions. Other states that previously recognized those partnerships have adopted same sex marriage laws and converted civil unions, with the exception of Vermont, into marriages as a matter of law. Vermont enacted its same sex marriage law in 2009. All civil unions entered into before that date are still recognized as civil unions.

downloadNote that New Hampshire enacted its same sex marriage law on January 1, 2010. All legal civil unions contracted in another state or jurisdiction have been recognized as marriages in New Hampshire since that date. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. Section 457:45.

According to law, same sex couples entering into a civil union obtain the same benefits, protections and responsibilities that are afforded opposite sex married couples. Rights related to real estate include the following:

1. The right to buy, own and sell real estate as a single entity.

2. The right to survivorship of the real estate and property. When one partner dies, the surviving partner will inherit according to the state laws of intestate success if there is no will or other estate planning in place at the time of death.

3. Homestead rights of a spouse. Homestead exemptions protect an amount of equity in the home from creditors and allow the property to be transferred directly to the surviving spouse upon the other’s death. That amount is set by state law. In Colorado, the amount is $60,000 of the home’s equity, or $90,000 if the surviving partner is disabled or 60 years of age or older. In Vermont, the amount is $125,000.

Colorado does not allow partners in a civil union to file joint taxes. Each must file individually and only one of them can take any deductions related to the real estate that they own together. Vermont allows partners in the civil union to file jointly for state tax purposes. Since federal law only recognizes marriages, couples in civil unions cannot file joint federal returns.

If you are in a civil union and are considering purchasing a home together, it would be wise to consult with an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com or attorney. Those professionals have the knowledge to advise you on any laws that can affect your purchase.

Things to Consider When Buying a Historic Home

Are you considering buying a home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? If so, well, congratulations! You are part of an elite group of buyers that more than likely has excellent taste, a concern for preserving older architecture and you are also likely to be a little wealthier than most people. People who buy historic homes also tend to be philanthropic in nature as they can be expensive to maintain. On the other hand, some of these properties are in pristine condition as they have been renovated and maintained by caring owners that wish to preserve the building’s integrity. Historic homes, especially ones officially registered with the National History registry, also tend to have fewer past owners and be in better shape.

historic home in punta gorda
Home on the National Register of Historic Places in Punta Gorda, Florida.

In general, historic homes are a great investment because for the most part they appreciate in value. They not only command a greater asking price than an ordinary home without a National Register citation but they also sell faster if you do decide to put it on the market.  Houses in historic neighborhoods also tend to be in nicer locations with strong community associations and lots of older trees. They are also usually located close to a city or town’s downtown.

A home that is included in the National Register of Historic Places is not usually subjected to any special rules about the maintenance the federal government. However, many municipalities have designated historical districts and if you own one a home in one of these districts you might be subjected to reviews every time you try to make a change to the property. Many cities and neighborhoods also have home preservation ordinances that maintain the architectural integrity of a historic district.  Before buying a historic home it is a very good idea to investigate any organizations and commissions that may have a say in how you repair or renovate the property

In some cities you might have to acquire a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to approve any work done on the historic home.  Usually, these certificates are an approval of details such as shutters, windows, doorknobs and other details unique to the look of the historical neighborhood. In some historic districts you may be required to replace any damaged parts of the home with the identical material to the original. The expense of finding and paying for these architectural materials is something to consider before you purchase the home.  However, as the owner of a building that has a certificate from the National Register, you might also be eligible for financial subsidies to help you afford the property’s integrity and upkeep in the in the form of loans, grants or tax write-offs.  Some states also give the owners of historic properties exemptions from property-tax assessments.

There are also many local and private organization that help owners of historic properties afford the upkeep and renovations of the property. In order to find out what kind of assistance you are eligible to receive you can check with your State Preservation Office (SHPO) that can supply you with information about planning agencies and community historical societies that may be willing to assist you with the costs of keeping the home.

Gay Realtors Advice On Buying a Home with No Down payment

When it comes to owning a home, making a down payment can be very challenging. However, there are some instances you can follow in order to purchase a home with zero down payment according to our expert gay realtor.

USDA Rural Housing Loans

Gay Realtors Advice On Buying a Home with No Down paymentFor people with a lower income, rural housing programs may allow them to buy a house without making any down payment. Those whose income doesn’t go beyond the local area median income (AMI) may qualify for loan guarantee. Make sure your personal situation and the property you are interested in falls under the USDA guidelines. (http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/HSF-About_Guaranteed_Loans.html)

VA Loans for Veterans

If you have served in the National Guard or in military, then you are eligible for a ZERO down VA mortgage. The lender will request your COE (Certificate of Eligibility), veterans may obtain this on-line. The VA guarantees your home purchase to the lender. A funding fee maybe included in your total loan amount for the guaranty.

Down Payment Assistance

This can be furnished by charitable foundations, local governments and other organizations. This cannot be supplied by any anyone who has other interests in the finances of the home sale e.g. a real estate agent, the mortgage broker or the property owner.

Most of such programs include guidelines and are limited only for first-time home buyers, buying their primary residences. Some will have you go through a homebuyer education course first. This is more of a silent second mortgage that won’t require any payments. They may only ask for a refund once you sell the home, or it could be waived if you stay in the home for x amount of years.

Good Neighbor Next Door Program

Teachers, firefighters/emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officers who qualify for the program can purchase any HUD Home at a 50% discount. On the other hand if you use an FHA loan to finance your home, they will only require a down payment of just $100. The program provides a payment-free and interest-free second mortgage for 50% of the total homes value. The second mortgage balance is forgiven if you live in the home for three years or longer.

FHA Home Loans

FHA mortgages only require a down payment of 3.5%. Home buyers can get it from secured loans, employers, friends, relatives and other organizations.

Lease Option

This is part of a rental agreement. With the lease option deal, the renters can lease the house for a planned period of time, with an option to buy the home at some future date. This gives the buyer time to save for a down payment, while locking in today’s housing prices.

Any of the top gay real estate agents at GayRealEstate.com will be happy to provide you a free consultation to discuss your housing and financing needs. Just review the profiles of the agents in the city you’re considering, and contact them today! No cost or obligation.

Gay Real Estate Experts on Why Buying a Home in 2013 is of Great Advantage

If you have always wanted to buy your dream house, then the last quarter of 2013 is the best time to do it, and you can’t afford to miss it.

Buying a Home in 2013 is of Great AdvantageAccording to gay real estate experts, buying a house is way cheaper than renting. Also financial institutions are about to be forced into tighter lending requirements in 2014.

Below are 7 reasons to consider buying a home before 2013 ends.

 

 

 

  1. Mortgage costs will be relatively lower. You’ve heard it time and time again ~ rates are low, and won’t be sticking around forever.
  2. Houses are cheap. Depending on the location, house costs do vary, but it’s cost effective when you look at it in terms of the average housing price across the country. This year looks promising, and prices are rising in every market, so you better not miss out.
  3. Chances of getting a mortgage are high. Bankers and creditors have more flexibility and less government regulation on home buyers and have simplified the process of qualifying for a mortgage ~ new rules and regulations roll out in 2014.
  4. Investors won’t be challenging. Investors who buy and flip homes will be dormant unlike the recent years. This is due to the rising costs of housing, making house flipping unattractive. Since there are more houses that will be available, you can take time finding your dream house since competition will be less.
  5. Buying is cheaper than renting. For those who reside in metropolitan areas, it would be wise to consider buying a home instead of renting. If you are in a location where rents keep rising, then it’s about time you consider the advantages of buying a home as compared to renting it.
  6. Think of the next 5 to 10 years to come. If you’re staying put at least 5 years, it’s time to invest in your future!

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com ~ Providing Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Gay Realtor Tips on Buying your First Home Effectively

Tips for first time home buyers.

Gay Realtor Tips on Buying your First Home EffectivelyBefore you decide on buying your first home, you need to be sure that you are ready to make the investment. The following steps will help first time homebuyers to make correct economic decisions as they search for their new home.

Compare the available offers.

Check the price of the house or home you want to buy and compare the home sale prices in the location you want to invest in. You should be working with a gay buyer broker that can provide you comps, and do a complete market analysis to determine the fair market value.

Fix a limit on cost.

As a first time buyer, you should not buy for more than you can afford. Use the available bank rate calculator (on bankrate.com) to see how much your annual payments would be and if you can reach them. Choose a mortgage that will not be a strain on your income. You can also determine how much to spend from your income. It is not advisable to spend more than 28 % of your income on housing costs.

Calculate your costs per month.

It is important to calculate and analyze monthly housing costs plus taxes and insurance. Sometimes the tax and insurance escrow can be as high as the mortgage itself, depending upon the location. For example, average annual insurance premiums can be as low as $477 or as high as $1372 in Texas, according to insurance information institute. To have a clear number of the payment expected you could choose one of the properties and confirm all the payments with your insurance company. (plus don’t forget maintenance and upkeep, water/sewer and utilities)

Estimate your closing costs

The initial costs involved in setting up the home including lender charges, legal fees, taxes and prepaid insurance. Your realtor should provide you an average cost at closing, so know how much they need to have.

The first time homebuyers should also spend with precaution. Buying a home comes with other overhead costs such as roof repairs, floor repairs, repainting walls among others. Such expenses are always expected eventually. The new homebuyer should keep a cushion amount of money in their account to cater for these costs.

Consult Professionals

New homebuyers should be working with a full time profession gay realtor. It costs nothing to be represented in your home purchase (the seller pays your brokers commission) and you ll have a full-time professional advocate representing you ~ someone that does it many times each month!

Sites like GayRealEstate.com provide instant free access to the bio’s of the Nationa’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

Gay Realtors Top 5 Most Common Home Buyer Mistakes

Right from the time you start looking for a home to the time you close escrow, there is a lot to consider and many decisions to make. Making mistakes along this journey is not something new. But with the current financial standards, making mistakes will end up wasting your hard earned money. Common Home Buying Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

You need to avoid the mistakes at all costs, but how?

Below are some five mistakes that are very common among home buyers, and ways to avoid them

Expecting to negotiate a lower a price after making a deal.

In many cases, homes sell for more than the asking price since the real estate industry has been on fire. A couple of buyers will simply bid higher to win only to end up trying to get the prices down by requesting inspection credits during escrow. This can only work in weaker markets. Avoid this mistake. Most sellers nowadays have other backup offers from other buyers who would do anything to have the house. Never ask for unwarranted credits it could scare the seller, make them question your loyalty and decision making skills, and you will be left out of the deal.

Working with the lender with the lowest rate.

It’s never a good idea to buy anything based solely on price ~ the same is true for choosing a lender. Every day there are hundreds of deals across America that do not close, because a lender has failed to do their due diligence on you, and they have failed to meet the basic deadlines of the contract. You see teaser ads every day for the cheapest car, lowest cell phone service & best prices on groceries this is no different for lenders, but there is always something not quite disclosed! Do yourself a huge favor, and ask your gay realtor for a referral to a reputable lender, and save time, money and frustration.

Trying to shave every penny off a deal.

It’s true that everyone wants to strike the perfect deal but there are some dangers involved in the process. Pushing too hard with the seller can tell a lot about you. Win-win always works best give and take. If you attempt to shave every possible negotiation in your absolute favor, the seller might decide that you are too difficult to work with, and that he/she is no longer interested in any of your deals.

Use the advice of your professional gay realtor ~ they negotiate deals every day, and typically can lead you in the right direction.

Trying to find the perfect home yourself, without the help of a professional gay realtor.

The simple fact is ~ a large number of the homes you are finding on-line in your searches, may not even be on the market any longer.  A huge sum of money is involved in buying a home, so you have to do everything to make a wise investment, including working with a professional buyer’s broker.

Agents have a strong connection to the local market and know the hot spots of getting homes that are in accordance to your preference or choice. To buy a home in many cities today, you need access to them the minute they hit the market, you also need access to properties before they hit the market ~ this is where your professional full time gay realtor will be invaluable.

This will give you an added major advantage once you specify to them the kind of home you need and the price which you feel comfortable with. Plus you can trust your agent to assist you with areas you are not experienced with.

Not looking at your purchase like a seller.

There will come a time where you need to sell your home and therefore it is important to think like a seller. What are the future expectations of your home? Do you plan to sell it later on? Consider yourself a potential seller in the future and see that you make someone’s dream of owning a good home a reality. The last thing you can ever imagine doing is buying a home that won’t sell in the future. Funky is fun, but probably not a great idea when it comes to buying a home, unless you have the opportunity to take some of the functional obsolescence out of the home and turn a nice profit in the future.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com. Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.

What Your Don’t Know About Buying a Home Could Cost You

With the housing recovery now well underway  housing starts are up; builder confidence is at a 7-year high; there are fewer foreclosures; and home prices continue to rise  you may be inspired to get off the fence and buy that dream home. But are you really prepared? Here are a few things you may not know  and what you don’t know could potentially cost you.

Credit score

See, hear, speak no evilWhen was the last time you checked your credit score? Any idea how good or bad it is? Are there any errors on your report that need to be fixed? Long before you begin to house hunt, you need to know where you stand. The higher your score, the better your interest rate. Get a copy of your report ”for free” at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Mortgages

An astounding one-third of home buyers surveyed by Zillow are ill-prepared to get a mortgage. Among the findings: 34 percent of first-time home buyers are not aware that it is possible to get a home loan with a down payment of less than 5 percent; 26 percent of home buyers incorrectly believe that they are obligated to close their loan with the lender that pre-approved them; and 24 percent incorrectly believe that the best interest rates and fees can always be found through the bank where they currently do business. You have to shop around! Get multiple quotes, understand rates and fees, and read lender reviews online.

Competition

With the number of homes for sale at historically low levels, all-cash buyers ”typically investors eager to renovate and resell or rent out homes” are jumping into this rapidly rising market. And they’re swooping up homes like there’s no tomorrow!  Don’t underestimate this deep-pocketed competition, but don’t take unnecessary risks (such as waiving inspection contingencies, for example), either, simply for the sake of getting your piece of the American Dream. You may be inviting trouble, and that trouble could be costly.

Price

Yes, you guessed it. Because there’s not much to look at these days (just a few months supply in some markets!), and you’re up against stiff competition, you could easily end up paying more than you bargained for. Don’t bust your budget! Your monthly mortgage payment should be 25 percent or less of your monthly take-home pay. Run the numbers using Zillow’s mortgage calculators.

Author Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City ~ Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/.