Karen Adelson - Barrett Sotheby's International Realty



Posted by Karen Adelson on 10/24/2017

When you move into a home that you worked so hard to buy, it’s an exciting and overwhelming time. The biggest problem with a new place is that you don’t know your surroundings very well. Even if you have just moved down the street, there’s a lot of new things to be discovered from new neighbors to new places to explore. 


One thing that many new homeowners overlook is the way in which their new home functions. Do you know where the circuit breakers are? What about that switch in the corner of the living room that doesn’t seem to do anything? While the seller's disclosure and your home inspector will give you a wealth of information, you can gain a lot of knowledge just by asking questions. 


Sellers may not be eager to answer too many questions at first for fear that their answers could jeopardize the sale of their home. You can safely ask a lot of questions at the final walk-through or at closing since the seller will know that they’re secure in the transaction.         



What’s Strange About This House?


While you wouldn’t word a question to a seller in this exact way, you do want to know if there’s anything unique or anything that you should anticipate about the home. Remember that you should be subtle, yet curious in your question asking. 


What Type Of Repairs Have Been Made?


While you expect that most repairs will be on the disclosure statement, anything that has been done in the past is noteworthy as well. It’s helpful to know what’s been done in the house in the past so you have an idea of what to keep an eye out for.


Where Are The Important Utility Boxes In The Home?


Not all home inspectors are created equal. Your inspector may not be great at educating you as to where things are in the home like the circuit box, the water switches, the pump, or the controls for the furnace. The seller can often show you the location of these items in the house. This will prevent you from a lot of confusion starting at the time you move into the home. 


Have You Enjoyed Living In This Neighborhood?


You can discover a lot about a neighborhood if you just start a conversation about the seller’s own experiences. You can learn a lot through this simple question. Are there any crazy dogs in the neighborhood? Where are the best places to eat in the area? While you may not ask these questions directly, you can gain some powerful information just by being curious and conversational.

Gaining a good rapport with your seller can get you places. You’ll know a bit more about the home and the seller will even feel more friendly towards you. The seller could even leave some cool stuff behind that they don’t need like a microwave, a piece of furniture, or a patio set. All you need to do is be friendly and curious and you’ll be off to a great start in your new home.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Karen Adelson on 5/9/2017

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you’ve probably heard a lot about closing costs. Closing costs can come at a hefty price- up to 5% of your home’s purchase price. When that amount must be paid up front, you need to make sure you have a sizable amount of cash on hand.  


There’s many different kinds of fees included in the closing costs. Your lender will give you an estimate of what your closing costs will be, but you may not know what any of the terms that are included actually mean.  


The Loan Origination Fee


This is the fee charged by your lender that covers the administrative costs that are associated with creating and processing a mortgage. This could also be called an underwriting fee.   


Title Search Fee


This is how much the title insurance company charges to perform research on the title of the home. In some cases, the title may have some issues associated with it, so this research is to protect you. There’s also title fees known as lender’s title insurance and owner’s title insurance. You need to have lender’s title insurance, but owner’s title insurance is completely optional.


Credit Report Fee


This covers the obtaining and review of your credit report. 


Application Fee


There’s also a fee when it comes to reviewing your mortgage loan application. 


Home Appraisal


This fee covers the appraiser who is chosen by your mortgage company in order to assess an accurate value of the home.  


Tax Monitoring Fee


This fee supports tax research on the home to determine if property taxes have been paid. 


Survey


The property survey covers all aspects of the property bounds including gas lines, roads, walls, easements, property improvements, and encroachments. 


Attorney Fees


The attorney fees will cover all of the document reviews, the agreements, and the escrow fees.


Insurance Payments


When you close on a home, your entire first year of home insurance payments must be made at the time of closing. If you have bought your home with an FHA loan, you’ll need to pay mortgage insurance premiums at closing as well. You’ll also need mortgage insurance payments if you put less than a 20% down payment on the home.  


Escrow Property Taxes


The lender requires that you pay your property taxes up front. This money will be held in escrow and the taxes paid from there.  


As you can see, there’s a lot that goes on during the closing of a home. Make sure you have some water handy, it’s going to be a long process! Understanding what will happen at closing when you buy a home can help you to avoid any surprise fees or financial burdens.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 4/25/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, financially and otherwise. When you buy a home you're deciding on the region you want to live in, where you might want to raise children, and the people you'll live around for likely many years. You're also signing up for all of the responsibilities that come with a home: utility bills, issues and repairs, cleaning the house, maintaining the yard... the list goes on. So, before plunging into a mortgage, check off all the items on this checklist to determine if you're ready for home ownership.

The First Time Home Buyer's Checklist:

  1. I know where I want to live. Determining the location of your home is one of the most important factors that goes into home buying. Most decisions are influenced by your job/career, but things like family, friends and weather are all important things to consider. Aside from knowing where you want to live, you'll also need to know how long you want to stay. As a general rule, if you don't plan on staying in your home for at least 5-8 years it could be cheaper and easier to rent until you find somewhere you'd like to settle in.
  2. I have my finances under control. You don't need to be wealthy to buy a home, but you do need to have a strong understanding of your personal finances. In a spreadsheet, write down your total savings, monthly income and monthly expenses (including groceries, transportation, bills, and loans). Find out what type of mortgage and downpayment you can afford at your income level.
  3. My income is dependable. When you apply for a home loan the bank will look into this for you. But you should also want to make sure you can continue to afford your mortgage payments. How dependable is your job? Are there a lot of job opportunities in your field and in your area? These are all questions that help you determine the stability of your income.
  4. I have a good credit score. Your credit will be a big factor in getting approved for a home loan. Building credit seems complicated but it's based on four main things: paying bills on time, keeping balances relatively low, having a long record of repayment, and not opening several new cards or taking on multiple loans in a short period of time.
  5. I'm pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approved isn't mandatory, but it offers many benefits. First, it shows lenders that you are a safe person to loan money to. Second, it will give you insight into what banks think of your finances and will give you an idea of what price range you can safely buy in.
  6. I'm prepared for the responsibilities of owning a home and willing to learn. If you're handy around the house and can fix anything, that's great. What's more important, however, is that you have the time and willingness to learn new skills that will help you become a good homeowner.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 4/18/2017

Buying a home can be a daunting and nerve-wracking experience, especially if it's your first time. Many first time homebuyers go into the process with little preparation other than financial planning. One great tool to have if you're entering the housing market for the first time is a timeline to owning your first home.

Why you need a timeline

There are innumerable benefits to having a timeline for buying a home. There's are several steps and a lot of information to remember during the buying process. Having a timeline will make sure you stay on top of those steps. Knowing that you're keeping up with your end of the deal will help you feel more relaxed and confident as you enter into this important step of your life. It will relieve anxieties that you are forgetting something or that you are overwhelmed and behind on the process.

Before you start...

There are a number of helpful tools to making a timeline. If you're the type who is constantly on your laptop or smartphone, you can keep your timeline in a document or spreadsheet there and make sure it's synced up between your devices so you can refer to it when needed. If you're more of an App kind of person, there are several apps on the market for helping you keep on schedule. They'll give you updates periodically and remind you when an upcoming task is due. Do you still keep a hard copy planner and carry it in your bag wherever you go? If so, consider drawing up a physical timeline that you can refer to. Just make sure you write it in pencil because you will invariably need to update it now and then.

Dates for your timeline

Here are some items you should strongly consider putting on your home buying timeline. Everyone's timeline is different because each person has their own requirements when it comes to how soon they want to move. Give yourself realistic dates and look ahead on the calendar to make sure your items don't conflict with holidays or upcoming vacations. TIMELINE ITEMS
  1. Consider more than finances. Before contacting realtors or even before browsing listings online think about your own goals. If you're moving with another person think about your futures and where your careers may take you. The first date on your timeline should be a long discussion about the future and what you would like it to look like.
  2. Crunch the numbers. Consider your savings, expenses, current income, and projected income. As a general rule, don't look into buying homes over 2-3 times your income.
  3. Research lenders. Odds are you'll have a mortgage for quite some time, therefore you'll want to make sure your relationship with your lender is ideal. Read reviews, speak with several lenders, and talk to your friends and family about their experiences.
  4. Research insurance. The sooner you know how much you'll be paying in insurance the better.
  5. Get pre-approved.  Doing this early tells home sellers that you are a qualified buyer.
  6. House hunt. This is the fun part. Give yourself plenty of time to consider options.
  7. Make an offer. Consider the features of the home, the cost of he homes in the neighborhood, and the seller's disposition toward the home (whether they need to sell it quickly or are just testing the water).
  8. Double check your contracts. Re-read all of your paperwork and make copies/back it up.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 12/6/2016

When it comes to finding a place for you and your family to live, there have never been more options available than today. Banks and property owners have made living arrangements available and accessible to people of any lifestyle; whether you plan on staying in a home for just six months, or for the rest of your life.

It isn’t always easy, though, to determine which option is best for you. In this article, we’ll break down the financial and lifestyle characteristics of the four most common living situations: condominiums, townhouses, apartments, or owning your own home.

Condo living

Condominiums are a type of community living. But, they’re more than just an apartment that you own. Most condos are attached; meaning they’re not separated by yards and driveways. Some, however, are detached. One thing that is true for all condos, however, are the common areas throughout the development. This can include things like a park, yards, gyms, pools, or lounges and cafes. The best part about those amenities? You don’t have to worry about their upkeep.

So, since you own the condo, who pays for the common areas? Odds are, you’ll be paying a monthly fee or a homeowners association fee to upkeep the amenities your condo came with. Expect higher fees for better amenities and prime real estate location.

What about maintenance? Since you own the condo, you’re responsible for much of the interior maintenance, such as appliances. However, outdoor issues like roofing or siding are usually the responsibility of the homeowners association or property manager.

Condos are ideal for people who are somewhat committed to an area, and who want independence over their home without having to take care of all the landscaping.

Townhouses

Townhouses are in many ways the opposite of condos. They are often rented but they look like single family homes, complete with a driveway and front yard. There are also typically homeowners association fees for townhouses, but they can be significantly less since there are fewer amenities in a townhouse living environment.

Depending on your long-term plans, you can either rent or buy townhouses. Renting is usually a better choice for inhabitants who don’t plan on staying in the residence for more than a couple of years.

Homeownership

If what you truly seek in a home is independence and privacy then traditional homeownership might be the best option for you. If you own a home outright and don’t have to answer to a homeowners association, you get to choose what you do with your yard. There are of course, some limits to this, like getting additions approved by zoning boards, or trampolines signed off by your insurance company.

Financially, homes can be a good asset. They typically increase in value and allow you to build equity. You might also find them more financially dependable; rents can increase year after year, but your monthly mortgage payments typically won’t unless you choose to refinance.

Ultimately, buying a home is going to benefit you more the longer you stay there. So, if you plan on moving for work in the next few years, you might be better off renting.