Buying or selling a house can be a stressful and vulnerable time for every party involved in the closing. To make sure that the process goes smoothly, make sure that you are familiar with your rights and obligations as a buyer and as a seller ahead of time!
As a buyer, you are entitled to the following elements:
- You have the right to house-hunt without facing discrimination thanks to the Fair Housing Act which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings and other housing-related activities on the basis of race, sex, disability, color, religion, familial status, or national origin.
- You have the right to know about any potential health hazards linked to the property, including waste management, water supply, insulation, hazardous materials (such as lead paint). Disclosure agreements vary state by state: you can find which forms are requested from the buyers here.
- You have the right to made aware of the financial history of the property, including property taxes and any encumbrance on the title (such as liens, easements, or any other issues)
- You have the right to access any information that will help you get a fair deal on the property. This includes an objective appraisal, and market price analysis and comparison
- You have the right to have access to all the information regarding closing, including a copy of the purchase and sale agreement, a walk-through of the property before closing and access to the settlement statement at closing
As a seller, you are also protected by real estate laws and have the right to the following elements:
- You have the right to advertise the property for sale in a public listing or another similar forum, with the help of a real estate agent or not
- You have the right to set a price for your property that you deem reasonable, backed by truthful and accurate information
- You have the right to request a home inspection prior to closing
- You have the right to protect yourself by requiring that a deposit or a certain amount of the purchase price be placed in escrow before closing, and may request verification of financing or a mortgage loan before the sale is finalized
- Finally, you have the right to accept or refuse an offer, for example, if you find it to be too low, if you are worried about the potential buyer’s financing abilities, or simply if you changed your mind about selling the house in the first place. However, per the Fair Housing Act, you cannot refuse to sell your property to a specific buyer based on his or her race, color, sex, familial status, or national origin.
Shall any legal issues arise during the closing process from either the buyer or the seller, the best course of action would be to hire a real estate lawyer. He or she will be able not only to help you know your rights but also to provide legal representation and council if the dispute was to lead to a lawsuit or any other legal proceeding.
When you’re trying to buy a home in a competitive market, you might feel like it’s best to skip the home inspection. That seems like an easy way to make your offer seem more attractive to sellers, and it’ll also speed up the buying process. A win/win situation, right?
Wrong. Waiving inspections when buying a home is never a good idea. The home might look fine when you inspect it yourself with the naked eye, but you never know what’s behind the scenes. A lot of the biggest issues a home can have aren’t detectable if you aren’t an expert. No matter how much you want the home, it’s always best to have it inspected by an expert. Here are the risks of waiving inspections when buying a home.
Who Conducts Home Inspections?
Home inspections are much different than your own walks through the property. Home inspections are done by licensed professionals who know what to look for, and they know how to detect problems. They look into areas of the home you might not pay attention to when you’re walking through the home, from the HVAC to the foundation.
These home inspectors are held to a strict Code of Ethics and Standard of Practices created by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). You need a qualified opining on the quality of the home, not just aesthetically but foundational. The cost of inspecting a home is more than worth the peace of mind of knowing you won’t run into any surprises once you move into the space.
If you’re an experienced homeowner, you might think you can manage a home inspection on your own. However, professional inspectors are skilled in the elements of home construction, maintenance, and safety. They understand the most important signs of disrepair, and they aren’t likely to overlook anything. It’s best to leave the inspection to the pros.
What are the Risks?
What happens if your home isn’t inspected? While it’s easy to think it’s as simple as skipping the lengthy and costly inspection process, this isn’t the case. Whether you’re buying a new construction home or an existing property, you need to get the property looked at by a professional. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself facing the following.
- Not Insurable – Some home insurance companies won’t issue a policy if you don’t have a documented inspection. Without insurance, you won’t get final approval for your mortgage.
- Safety Concerns – Without an inspection, it’s impossible to know if your new home was safely constructed and currently safe to live in.
- Legal Out – When an inspector finds a large problem with a home, you’re legally allowed out of the agreement through a contingency clause without losing your deposit.
- Expensive Repairs – One of the most obvious risks is that you’re purchasing the home “as-is.” With that in mind, any repairs will need to come out of your pocket.
- Negotiation – Finally, any issues found during the home inspection can be used as a valuable negotiation tool. You can choose for the seller to fix these repairs before you agree to purchase the home, or you can even negotiate the selling price.
As you can see, if you skip your home inspection, you might find yourself facing an extreme case of buyers remorse. While your inspection might seem like an unnecessary extra step, especially if the home appears to be in good condition, it exists for your protection as the homebuyer.
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. You wouldn’t enter an investment blind, so don’t go into your new home blind. Use a qualified home inspector to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting into when you buy a home.
If you are locked in a high-rate mortgage that is affecting your finances, you might have considered refinancing your house However, it is not a miracle solution for everyone. A common misconception is that refinancing your home essentially consists in updating the terms of your real estate loan. It is not: refinancing your mortgage comes down to taking down a new mortgage entirely.
To know if it is the right choice for you, here are a few things you must consider before taking the plunge.
1. How does the terms of your current mortgage compare to your new terms?
Unlike a personal or auto loan, refinancing your mortgage is not free: it comes with closing fees, usually equivalent to 1 to 5% of your new loan amount. For a new mortgage to be worth it, you must consider the difference in interest rate between your new and your old mortgage. How long will it take you to recoup the impact of your closing costs with your new loan?
A rule of thumb is that your new mortgage interest rate should be at least one point lower than your previous rate to be worth it.
How does the terms of your new mortgage will affect your private mortgage insurance? If your house equity has increased during the life of your previous loan, you might not need to pay PMI anymore. However, if the value of your house has decreased, you might need to start paying for a PMI.
Another thing to consider is how far from the break-even point you are in your current mortgage: if you are planning to move at short to medium term, but that you have been paying your current mortgage long enough that your payments go towards the principal of your loan rather than the interest, refinancing might not be an interesting option.
Refinancing can also be an interesting option if you want to change the type of mortgage on your real estate property entirely. If you started with an Adjustable Rate Mortgage, you might qualify for a lower fixed-rate mortgage.
2. Can you qualify for a new loan with better terms than your previous one?
Like for any new real estate loan, your lender will consider several factors before granting you a new mortgage. Don’t hesitate to shop around to see which lender might be willing to offer you more interesting terms.
If your credit score has gone up since you got your old loan, refinancing with better terms might be interesting for you. However, if you have fallen on some hard time and your credit score has taken a hit, refinancing might cost you more. If that is the case, spending some time working on improving your credit score before refinancing will save you money in the long run.
How much equity you have in your house will also be crucial for your lender to decide on the terms of your loan: if the house values in your neighborhood are going down, now might not be a good time to refinance. To qualify for more advantageous terms, you should have at least 20% of equity in your house.
Lenders will also consider your debt-to-income ratio before granting you new terms to your real estate loan, so pay off whichever debt you can before applying for refinancing.
3. What is your goal for your house?
Before refinancing your home, you must ask yourself why you want to apply for a new loan. Getting a lower down payment is only the short answer to a more complex question.
If you are planning to move in the semi-near future, refinancing probably will not save you any money.
Refinancing can be an interesting option if you are trying to pay off your real estate property sooner than later, before retiring for example, refinancing your mortgage from a 30-years term to a 15-years term can raise your monthly payments but will save you money in the long run since you will not spend as much on interest.
Refinancing might also allow you to cash-out on your house equity. However, consider this option carefully before spending this money on your dream vacation, and use it to improve your equity on your house instead.
In conclusion, there is no one-fits-all solution when it comes to refinancing. The best thing you can do before taking this decision one way or another is to meet with a financial advisor who will be able to help you figure out what is the best course of action in your particular circumstances.
There is nothing more important than the security and well-being of you and your loved ones. You need a home security system to protect your family and everything you value. However, no two home security systems are the same. Let’s take a look at some of the best options that will keep you protected.
1. ADT Pulse
ADT is one of the home security industry’s top names for good reason. ADT boasts more monitoring centers than any other home security provider. Opt for ADT Pulse and you will enjoy an array of smart home integrations. You can choose your own equipment, sit back and rest easy knowing the vast network of ADT monitoring centers will keep your property secure. If smart home integrations are your thing, you will find ADT’s Pulse plans are perfect. These plans seamlessly blend smart home integrations to make your living space as efficient as possible.
SimpliSafe is easy in all regards. This home security system won’t strain your budget, is simple to install and can be ordered with ease over the web. Though SimpliSafe requires a DIY (do it yourself) installation, it is affordable and effective. Some SimpliSafe users pay as little as $14.99 per month for professional monitoring.
3. Vivint Smarthome
Have Vivint installed at your home and you will enjoy a combination of top-notch security with the efficiency of smart home device integration. Vivint provides easy mobile control, reliable equipment and connectivity with just about every smart home device. If you are willing to pay a premium for this high-end equipment, you will enjoy the protection of a world class alarm system for years or even decades to come. The icing on the cake is Vivint allows you to automate just about everything from the garage door to the lights, heating/cooling systems and beyond.
4. Nest Secure
Nest Secure is favored beyond those who own the uber-popular Nest Cams. This security system is innovative, user-friendly and highly effective. There is no need to bother remembering a key code; rather Nest Secure relies on motion detectors with sensors along the windows and doors for multi-device operationality. Furthermore, those who already have a Nest product in the home such as a smart thermostat or a nest camera will find Nest Secure fits in seamlessly.
5. Protect America
Are you on the prowl for home security equipment with a lifetime guarantee? Protect America is the answer. This home security system is fairly basic yet it is easy to install and runs as low as $19.99 each month for landline plans. Those who do not mind an affordable bare bones style setup will appreciate the simplicity of Protect America. More importantly, this home security system actually works even though it is reasonably priced. You really can take a month or week-long vacation away from your home without worry, knowing Protect America will keep a watchful eye on your property.
Those looking to monitor their own system without paying through the nose will find this system has its merits. Adobe offers homeowners a true DIY (do it yourself) approach without the annoyance of a monthly fee. Adobe combines home monitoring with smart home integration anyone can master. Opt for Adobe and you can monitor your property from any location with your smartphone. The only downside to Adobe is the camera quality leaves a little bit to be desired. Adobe also offer professional monitoring for a higher monthly fee.