Questions & Answers

Below are catagories of some our most asked questions based on topic. If you have any other questions you would like to ask, feel free to contact us via email or call us toll free at (800) 490-0771.
 
Sellers Questions

Q: How is a home's value determined?
A: You have several ways to determine the value of a home. An appraisal is a professional estimate of a property's market value, based on recent sales of comparable properties, location, square footage and construction quality. This service varies in cost depending on the price of the home. On average, an appraisal costs about $300 to $400 for a $500,000 home.

A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value performed by a real estate agent based on similar sales and property attributes. Most agents offer free analyses in the hopes of winning your business.

You also can get a comparable sales report for a fee from private companies that specialize in real estate data. You also can find comparable sales information available on various real estate Internet sites.

Q: What is the best time to sell your house?
A: In addition to supply and demand, and other economic factors, the time of year you choose to sell can make a difference both in the amount of time it takes to sell your home and in the ultimate selling price. Weather conditions are less of a consideration in more temperate climates, but most of the time, the real estate market picks up as early as February, with the strongest selling season usually lasting through May and June.

With the onset of summer, the market slows. July is often the slowest month for real estate sales due to a strong spring market putting possible upward pressure on interest rates. Also, many prospective home buyers and their agents take vacations during mid-summer.

Following the summer slowdown, real estate sales activity tends to pick up for a second, although less vigorous, fall market, which usually lasts into November when the market slows again as buyers and sellers turn their attention to the holidays.

Sellers often wonder whether or not they should take their homes off the market for the holidays. Generally speaking, you'll have the best results if your house is available to show to prospective buyers continuously until it sells.

Q: Do I have to consider contingencies?
A: If you are a seller in a seller's market, in which there is more demand than supply, you probably won't have to entertain too many contingencies. But if you are selling in a buyer's market, when buyers are few, prepare to be very flexible. Granting contingencies also depends upon what kind of price you want to get and on the condition of your property, most experts agree. Remember, contingencies are written into the contract and are negotiable during the negotiation phase only.

Buyers Questions

Q: What is the difference between market value and appraised value?
A: Appraised value is a certified appraiser's opinion of the worth of a home at a given point in time. Lenders require appraisals as part of the loan application process; fees range from $200 to $300.
Market value is what price the house will bring at a given point in time. A comparative market analysis is an informal estimate of market value, based on sales of comparable properties, performed by a real estate agent or broker.

Q: What is the difference between list price, sales price and appraised value?
A: The list price is a seller's advertised price, a figure that usually is only a rough estimate of what the seller wants to get. Sellers can price high, low or close to what they hope to get. To judge whether the list price is a fair one, be sure to consult comparable sales prices in the area.

The sales price is the amount of money you as a buyer would pay for a property.

The appraisal value is a certified appraiser's estimate of the worth of a property, and is based on comparable sales, the condition of the property and numerous other factors.

Q: What are some tips on negotiation?
A: The more you know about a seller's motivation, the stronger a negotiating position you are in. For example, seller who must move quickly due to a job transfer may be amenable to a lower price with a speedy escrow. Other so-called "motivated sellers" include people going through a divorce or who have already purchased another home.
Remember, that the listing price is what the seller would like to receive but is not necessarily what they will settle for. Before making an offer, check the recent sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood to see how the seller's asking price stacks up.
Some experts discourage making deliberate low-ball offers. While such an offer can be presented, it can also sour the sale and discourage the seller from negotiating at all.

Q: Whose obligation is it to disclose pertinent information about a property?
A: Obligations to disclose information about a property vary from state to state.
Under the strictest laws, the seller and the seller?s broker, if there is one, are required to disclose all facts materially affecting the value or desirability of the property which are known or accessible only to him.

Items sellers often disclose include: homeowners association dues; whether or not work done on the house meets local building codes and permits requirements; the presence of any neighborhood nuisances or noises which a prospective buyer might not notice, such as a dog that barks every night or poor TV reception; any death within three years on the property and any restrictions on the use of the property, such as zoning ordinances or association rules.

It is wise to check your state's disclosure rules prior to a home purchase.

Investment Property Questions

Q: What do you think of a vacation home as an investment?
A: You can buy a vacation home today for investment purposes as well as enjoyment. And yes, there are tax benefits. Some people buy a vacation home to use as a permanent retirement home later, which allows them to get ahead on their payments. Another benefit is that the interest and property taxes on a vacation home are tax-deductible.

Some real estate experts predict that vacation homes will appreciate in value due to rising demand from the aging Baby Boom generation. You also can depreciate the property if you live in the house less than 14 days a year.

You also need to consider whether you can afford to carry two mortgages, pay for the extra utilities and maintenance costs, and how this investment fits into your total personal finance picture.

Q: How do I project rents on a rental?
A: If you are buying a rental income property and applying for a loan to do so, the lender will require an area rent survey by a certified appraiser. The amount a landlord can expect to receive in monthly rent largely depends on what the property has rented for in the past, the condition of the building, its location and the current housing market.
Lenders also look at other cash-flow considerations. They want to know if you have enough reserves on hand to cover predictable and unforeseen expenses, such as property insurance, taxes, regular maintenance and repairs.

Q: Where do I get information about being a landlord?
A: If you are a landlord and have questions, contact:
* National Multi-Housing Council, 1850 M Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036; call (202) 659-3381

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