Eva Scott - Gibson Sotheby’s International



Posted by Eva Scott on 3/15/2013

In this market, short sales can sometimes be a good deal for a buyer but they also come with some potential pitfalls. A short sale is when a seller needs to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. In order to get a bargain and not a headache you will need to do your homework. Here are some tips for protecting yourself before buying a short sale.

1. Use experts

It is important that before you buy a short sale you assemble a team of experts. During the initial phase you will need help identifying which homes are being offered as short sales. The nature of short sales are different, you will also need help determining a purchase price and what to include in your offer. A real estate attorney who is knowledgeable in short sales is also key. Navigating the process of a short sale can be tricky so you will need an experienced short sale attorney to help deal with the potential of multiple liens, mechanic’s and condominium liens, or homeowners association liens. Often homes that are in short sale have these issues and without help will be harder to purchase.

2. Prepare emotionally

If you want a good deal on a short sale you will probably have to be in it for the long haul. It is important to stay patient, and remain unemotional during what can sometimes be a lengthy and emotionally difficult process. You may even want to consider a title search upfront. This could weed out properties with multiple liens if you are under a time crunch.

3. Know the market

In order to successfully purchase a short sale you need to know the marketplace. When a lender agrees to a short sale, they are agreeing to losing money on the loan they made to purchase the home. A short sale can be a good deal but it usually not a steal. The lender also knows the fair market value of the home and wants to minimize their losses. If your offer is too low, you chance it being rejected. During the process we will determine a price range that works with your budget and is hopefully one that the lender will accept.

4. Know the Process

The short sale process is different than that of a standard sale. The agreement to sell the home for less than is owed is actually made between the seller and the lender, not the seller and the buyer. The seller must first gain approval from the lender before the sale can be finalized. First, you would make an offer on a home and the sellers must consent to your offer to purchase. Then the sellers must submit the offer to their lender. The seller also sends along documentation to the bank as to why they need to sell the home for less than is owed. The seller should also have an attorney to help them with this process. Lenders typically do not move quickly on this process. It can often take weeks or months to get an answer. This is why is often best to put a competitive offer first. If several lien holders are involved; each can make a counteroffer or just reject your offer.

5. Firm up your financing

Lenders don't just look at the amount you are willing to pay for the home; they will also weigh your ability to close the transaction. If have a strong offer lenders will look more closely at your offer. You will want to make sure you are pre-approved for a mortgage for any consideration. Other factors that could influence the decision in a positive way are: having a large down payment, ability to close at any time, and flexibility. They will often not consider your offer if you have a contingency.





Posted by Eva Scott on 12/16/2012

Is a condominium right for you? The market has been steadily rising for the past few years but condo living may not be for everyone. Condo buyers typically fall into three categories: -First-time buyers -Second home or vacation home owners -Retirees looking for a low-maintenance alternative Under the right set of circumstances a condominium can be a great purchase. Before you run out and shop for condos you have to be comfortable living with rules and restrictions, and in close proximity to others. There are different types of condominiums. They can take the form of apartment-style complexes, townhouses or converted multi-family dwellings. Most condominiums have common areas, such as stairwells, dividing and outer walls, fitness centers, pools, walking paths and gardens. These common areas are under shared ownership. Each unit owner holds an interest in these spaces. Because space is shared there needs to a way to manage the maintenance, repair and costs of these common areas. To deal with that and other issues that involve space sharing every condo development has a condominium association. The association is typically elected by condo owners and makes communal decisions in the interest of the community. When you find a condominium you are interested in you will want to inquire about the association: Some questions you may want to ask are:

  • Does the association maintain reserve of funds to pay for unexpected and potentially expensive repairs? If so, how much is in reserve and how is it managed?
  • Has the association maintained the building in good repair? Are there currently or any planned special assessments?
  • Does the association have plans to add any facilities, such as a swimming pool or gym, in the near future?
  • Does the development have any pending legal actions? Are there any disputes between owners, with developers or with the association that you should know about?
  • Buying a condo also comes with costs some are similar to a single family home purchase while others are condo specific. These costs include:
    • Down payment, mortgage and property tax
    • Condo fees, otherwise known as maintenance fees. Condo fees are paid by every resident to help with the maintenance of the building, pay the salaries of groundskeepers, concierges or handymen, and provide luxury facilities such as a pool, gym or rooftop garden. Condo fees are paid monthly and are subject to change. The condominium association budgets and determines the condo fees for all units. Condo fees are typically determined by the size of your unit, how many units are currently occupied, and the projected expenses for building maintenance and repair.
    • Special assessment fees. These fees may be requested when an unexpected repair or planned modification exceeds the cost of the condo fees collected
    • One of the most important considerations is to determine if you can live with the condominium rules or covenants. The rules vary from one condo development to another. Some condominiums may impose restrictions on pet ownership, noise levels, remodeling projects, and renting. Always read the condo rules and regulations to make sure that you are comfortable with them before you make a commitment to purchase.





Posted by Eva Scott on 11/25/2012

You have decided to sell. But before you put the sign in the yard there are some things you will want to make sure you have done. Time spent doing research and setting the right price will most likely yield you a better return in the end. A home is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. Track your neighborhood values Find out what homes similar to yours are selling for in your neighborhood so you will have a good idea what your home is worth. Buyer or seller market You need to judge whether it's a sellers' market or a buyers' market in your neighborhood. Remember that all real estate is local. You will want to research things like interest rates, home inventory, job forecasts, and even time of year. Research inventory How many homes are for sale? If you live in a desirable neighborhood and there aren't many homes for sale, you will have a clear edge here. However, if you see lots of homes on the market and they're not selling very quickly, you might have to reduce the price you had in mind. Know the average days on the market Review the homes in your neighborhood and their days on market sometimes referred to as DOM. Look at trends for the past year and assess whether homes were appreciating or depreciating. Monitor the job market Is a big company relocating workers to your area? Or are they moving out and shutting the doors? The job market has a lot to do with the real estate market. Attend nearby open houses Observe how other properties are showing and compare them to your home. At an open house you can often feel the "mood" of potential buyers. Get a professional opinion A real estate professional will be able to help you gather all of the above information and come up with a CMA or comparable market analysis to determine the best price range for you home.





Posted by Eva Scott on 11/4/2012

The first step in home buying is getting a mortgage. Many home owners also find themselves in a maze when they start the refinance process. Navigating the mortgage process can be confusing. There is so much to know between rates, types of mortgages and payment schedules. Avoiding making a mistake in the mortgage process can save you a lot of money and headaches. Here is a list of the biggest mortgage mistakes that potential borrowers make. 1. No or Low Down Payment Buying a home with no or a low down payment is not a good idea. A large down payment increases the amount of equity the borrower has in the home. It also reduces the bank’s liability on the home. Research has shown that borrowers that place down a large down payment are much more likely to make their mortgage payments. If they do not they will also lose money. Borrowers who put little to nothing down on their homes find themselves upside down on their mortgage and end up just walking away. They owe more money than the home is worth. The more a borrower owes, the more likely they are to walk away and be subject to credit damaging foreclosure. 2. Adjustable Rate Mortgages or ARMs Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs sound too good to be true and they can be. The loan starts off with a low interest rate for the first two to five years. This allows the borrower to buy a larger house than they can normally qualify for. After two to five years the low adjustable rate expires and the interest rate resets to a higher market rate. Now the borrowers can no longer make the higher payment not can they refinance to a lower rate because they often do not have the equity in the home to qualify for a refinance. Many borrowers end up with high mortgage payments that are two to three times their original payments. 3. No Documentation Loans No documentation loans or sometimes called “liar loans” were very popular prior to the subprime meltdown. These loans requires little to no documentation. They do not require verification of the borrower's income, assets and/or expenses. Unfortunately borrowers have a tendency to inflate their income so that they can buy a larger house. The problems start once the mortgage payment is due. Because the borrower does not have the income they are unable to make mortgage payments and often end up face bankruptcy and foreclosure. 4. Reverse Mortgages You have seen the commercials and even infomercials devoted to advocating reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage is a loan available to borrowers age 62 and up. It uses the equity from the borrower’s home. The available equity is paid out in a steady stream of payments or in a lump sum like an annuity. Reverse mortgage have can be dangerous and have many drawbacks. There are many fees associated with reverse mortgages. These includes origination fees, mortgage insurance, title insurance, appraisal fees, attorney fees and many other miscellaneous fees that can quickly eat at the home’s equity. Another drawback; the borrower loses full ownership of their home and the bank now owns the home Avoiding the pitfalls of the mortgage maze will hopefully help you keep in good financial health as a home can be your best investment. .





Posted by Eva Scott on 9/30/2012

There is a saying often used in the real estate industry to refer to buyers, it says buyers are liars. That is in fact not case. The perception comes from the fact that buyers often buy on emotion rather than their needs. Buying on emotions often leaves buyers passing over a potential good deal or fit and instead overpaying for their dream home. Here are some common buyer errors and how to avoid making them. 1: Not using the right agent Choose an agent that works in the local market and never go it alone. An agent has the skills to negotiate the best deal for one of the biggest purchases of your life. A local agent has the lay of land and knows the area well and will be able to find you the right fit. 2: There usually isn’t a better deal When buyers keep waiting for a better deal they often miss out. When you find a house that fits your needs go for it. Don’t wait because there is no guarantee that a better deal will come on the market. 3: Overpaying for cosmetics Look at the structure and the function of the home. Paint colors or décor don’t matter in how much the house is ultimately worth. Often buyers will pay for cosmetics and staging in a home and ignore a better deal that isn’t perfectly decorated or match their taste. 4: Not negotiating realistically Who doesn’t want to get the lowest possible price when buying a home? Buyers need to understand there is a big difference between negotiating and lowballing. If a buyer truly wants a chance at a sale it is best to make a fair offer. Lowball offers often immediately get rejected or cause the seller to become agitated which often ends negotiations. Buyers must understand a lowball offer comes with a risk of losing the property.