Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Foreclosures on Lakeshore, Acreage and New Construction in Anoka County that Buyers WANT to Call Home!

Looking for a foreclosure, bank-owned or short sale but need to be able to live in the home immediately after closing?

Good news is that foreclosures are no longer always trashed, fixer-uppers. Today's foreclosures can be simply AWESOME! This economy has forced builders and responsible homeowners alike to let amazing properties go back to the bank. Many are still in very good condition. Some still may require a bit of cleanup or a few cosmetic changes but there are many homes that you can move right into too!

Here are a few of the treasures I noted on the Twin Cities MLS in Anoka County this weekend:

  • New Construction Foreclosure on Coon Lake! 60ft of shoreline and brandnew 4BR/2BA on north side of Coon Lake in East Bethel. Builder listed at $600K;bank priced ½ off at $299K.

  • East Bethel Acreage with underground sprinklers, master suite and 4BR on one level. 4BR/3BA with 3 car built in 2001 and EXTRA garage sold for $393K just listed this weekend by bank for $222K!

  • Bank-owned New Construction 5BR/4BA Rambler in Ham Lake. Executive home with 5 car attached garage. Tax valued at $589K bank asking $499K includes heated garage, wet bar, landscaping!

  • 3BR/2BA/3Car 2004 built splitlevel on 3 acres in Burns Township. Just listed this weekend for $139K. Originally sold in 2004 for $265K.

  • Modified 2 story 3BR/2BA/3 Car on 1/4 ac in St. Francis. Just listed this weekend for $169,900 by bank. Anoka County tax value $219K--$50,000 higher than asking!

  • Brand NEW Andover One-Story Twin Home! 2BR/2BA/3Car with master suite. Builder priced at $265K...Bank asking $150,000!
If you are in the market for a great deal on a foreclosed home, time to get organized because the rules to buy are a bit different than when working with a traditional seller.
Seven Tips for homebuyers considering a foreclosed home:
  1. Banks LOVE clean offers. Buyers MUST be preapproved with credit checked and employment and funds verified. Documentation must accompany the offer or it won't be considered.

  2. Banks reject lowball offers...often with no negotiation. They are a business and know the value of the asset they are selling.

  3. Well priced foreclosed homes get multiple offers. Serious buyers put in their best bid first.

  4. Banks sell homes AS-IS. What you see is what you get. Buyers must be prepared to make all necessary repairs out of their own pocket after closing.

  5. Banks will not pay for inspections in most cases. This includes the septic system and/or well. Be prepared as all inspections could end up being the buyer's responsibility. If you chose to inspect the septic or the county requires a septic compliance test, expect to pay $400-$500 for this inspection. A well test will run around $150. A whole house inspection is $350-$500.

  6. Personal property is not included as part of the sale. So if the appliances are at the home when you close, they are a bonus. The bank will not remove. But they don't guarantee will remain at the home or that they are in working order. This means if someone breaks in the home prior to the closing and takes them, the bank will not replace.

  7. Having your own REALTOR® to represent your interests is essential. The listing agent is under contract to represent the bank. In many cases, the bank will not allow a dual agency so if a buyer contacts the listing agent to write the offer, the buyer does not have representation. This means all of your information goes to the bank...the listing agent is required to tell the bank everything that you say about your financing and the amount you are able or willing to pay. But the agent is not required to tell you anything in return. The agent works only for the bank.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Understand the Risk of Loss Clause--Know WHEN a Contract be Cancelled if Severe Weather Damages YOUR Dreamhome!

Imagine for a moment the following scenario: After months of searching for the perfect place to call home, you wrote an offer on a picture perfect lakeshore rambler in Ham Lake, Minnesota. After a little negotiation, the offer was accepted and with the inspection over, you are on schedule to close in 60 days.

Three weeks prior to the closing, straight-line winds blow through Anoka County. Concerned, you drive up to your dream home and see that the picturesque oak trees that had given the home character have been uprooted. Worse yet, one of the huge trees fell onto the house severely damaging the roofline. You are devastated as this was no longer the dream home you wrote an offer on a few weeks ago. So, what happens now?
Risk of Loss is one of those "boiler plate" clauses on page four of the purchase agreement used most often in the State of Minnesota. Being preprinted, some agents and/or their clients will gloss over this clause but it is very important to understand, as is every other line in the document you sign to buy a home.

Line 147 clearly states that the risk of loss due to any reason whether an act of God or the acts of vandals will be the responsibility of the seller from the time the purchase agreement is signed until the date of closing. That means if there is a fire or accident the seller is required to bring the home into the condition that it was in at the time the contract was written and signed.

So if that temperamental decade old dishwasher goes out, the seller would replace it. If a neighbor backs over the mailbox at the end of your driveway, it is the seller who must repair the post and replace with a new one. Final walkthroughs are essential to ascertain the condition of the home prior to signing the closing documents. But what happens to those irreplaceable picturesque trees that have fallen on the roof?

Three weeks prior to a closing, there could be plenty of time for the seller to call their insurance company and have the home repaired. But is it the same house? And more importantly, does the buyer still have to buy the home? In a word, no.

The clause goes on to say that in the case where there is substantial damage to the home or property, it is the buyer's option to cancel or continue with the purchase agreement. In the situation outlined above, which was a real situation that occurred last summer, the landscaping was changed and could not be replaced. The damage to the home caused an insurance claim that would now be reflected in a CLUE insurance report that could affect the ability to insure the home. The buyers opted to cancel the contract as was their option in the clause with all earnest money refunded.

Risk of loss can come up when buying or selling a home during severe weather season in Minnesota. In most cases the repairs are made quickly to both the buyer's and seller's satisfaction and the contract will close on time. But when the property sustains significant damage, the buyer has the option of continuing to closing or walking away from the deal. Boilerplate or not, Risk of Loss is an important clause to understand when buying or selling a home.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

100% Financing IS AVAILABLE for Chisago County Buyers: The USDA Rural Development Program

Home buyers with limited funds for a down payment are in most cases required to scrimp and save for that first house again. Conventional mortgages can require 5, 10 or 20% for a down payment. Even government backed FHA loans will require that buyers have a minimum of 3.5% of their own funds to invest in their home. Our veterans have always had a wonderful zero down program available and the VA loan program is still a great option to those who have served our country. But for other buyers trying to come up with the minimum 3.5% down payment required by FHA or 5% down for a conventional loan is a road block to in their path to a new home.

There is good news for those considering buying a home in Chisago County. Most communities in Chisago County are designated rural areas and qualify for the zero down option, Rural Development Program through the USDA. Best of all this is NOT a program just for first time home buyers…Anyone can take advantage of the program if the home and your income meet the requirements.

Now when some people hear "rural", they immediately conjure up a picture in there head of an old-time farm in the middle of nowhere. Nothing could be further from the truth! According to the
USDA Rural Development website, the program was created to "build stronger, more vibrant rural communities across the nation." This unique housing loan program does apply in many counties in the north and east metro that aren't so far from the cities and they don't have to be farmsteads either! Communities in Isanti and Chisago Counties including North Branch, Stacy, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Shafer, Taylors Falls and many others can possibly qualify for this program. If you are considering buying a home in any of these communities, it is a great program to look into. But very few loan officers really know the ins and outs that make a program like this work.

I do work in several of these communities and have shown homes in these areas of the past few weeks. The deals throughout Lindstrom and North Branch are nothing short of amazing. Homes that are 5-6 years old are being sold for $30-50K less than just a year ago! In Lindstrom this week I have seen a number of 5-6 year old homes with 4 Bedrooms, 2 Baths, 3 car garages and ½ acre yards for well under $200K. Beautiful homes in move in condition…And with the USDA program they are available for ZERO DOWN!
My go-to Minnesota loan expert 
knows I work with buyers and sellers all over Chisago County and the north and east metro so she gave me quick lesson on this unique CONVENTIONAL LOAN program. Some of the features and benefits include:

· NO down payment

· NO monthly PMI

· The seller is allowed to pay all reasonable closing cost and prepaids up to 6%

· NO hit to the interest rate for the zero down

· NOT just for first time home buyers

· No reserves needed
There are income limits to the program. These numbers have recently increased to allow more potential buyers to take advantage of this unique opportunity. For households in non-high cost areas, with up to four people, the income limit is $70,750. (Yes, your teenager’s income from a job at the local fastfood chain will be included as would be your retired mother’s social security payment if they are living in the home.) In households where 5-8 people reside, the income limitation is $93,400. These income limitations are guidelines and, in some cases, may be exceeded.

Understanding the restrictions is essential but the benefits to the program are enormous! If you are considering a home in Chisago County, plan on speaking with a qualified loan officer that understands the rural development loan program before starting your home search. You could be able to afford more home than you expect. Likewise, working with a REALTOR ® that knows understands the current market conditions of the communities within this program are just as critical to your dream home becoming a reality.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm 

Friday, April 10, 2009

With Harold's Purple Crayon My Dream Home Would be a Snap!

When I was in grade school, I loved reading the story of Harold and the Purple Crayon. It was a picture book written by Crockett Johnson. I wanted to be like that little bald kid who drew out his dreams in his footy pajamas. Though not fond of the color purple, I always wanted one of those special violet Crayola type sticks to draw what I was dreaming of! Imagine if life were only so simple…

Today many people are sitting on the fence dreaming about their perfect home but aren’t certain that they have the tools necessary to take advantage of this unprecedented $8000 tax credit for first time buyers and amazing affordability in the Twin Cities home market. Maybe they are looking for one of Harold’s purple crayons too so they can draw out a path to a perfect new home…

Draw YOUR perfect REALTOR® Grab that magic purple crayon and sketch out your ideal of a trusted professional REALTOR®. The first step in owning a dream home is to find the agent of your dreams to represent you throughout the process. Make certain to sign the buyer’s representation agreement for with a blue ink pen not a purple Crayola.

Draw Your Preapproval letter. Pre-approval is an important step before you begin looking for a home. It not only determines how much home you can afford to spend on a home, it guarantees that you are ready to write up the offer when you find your dream home. The letter will serve as notice to the sellers that the bank has committed to lend you a specified amount based on your financial history. This gives you significant buying power as a seller recognizes you are approved for a loan. Your professional REALTOR® can assist you in locating a qualified loan officer that will work with you to make your dream home a reality.

Draw YOUR perfect home! Draw YOUR perfect home! Here’s the drawing you have been waiting for...glide that purple crayon across the page and sketch out your dream home. Your perfectly depicted purple REALTOR® will set up an MLS search for homes that meet the needs and price you have drawn up. As perfect homes hit the market, showings will be set to view the homes in person.

Draw up a Purchase Agreement and happy seller! Draw up a Purchase Agreement and happy seller! Use that magic purple crayon to draw up a contract on your dream. Okay the contract will have to be completed in something other than that crayon, but here is where you draw up contract including all of the details such as what you want to pay for the home, what personal property is to be included as well as the date you want to close and move in.

Draw a Qualified Inspector. To be certain that you didn’t miss any important details when you sketched out the beautiful purple palace, draw a home inspector that is qualified to check out your new purchase.

Draw up a SOLD sign. A big purple "SOLD" sign will announce to the world that this is YOUR dream home! It will stay on the sign while the home is "pending" the closing. During this period prior to closing, your purple professionals work closely together to ensure that details such as the appraisal and updating the title are handled in a timely manner. It is your job to use your purple crayon to mark off the days until you get to the closing table!

Draw the Keys to your new front door! Draw the key to your new front door! One final purplish piece of art will complete the home buying process—Sketch up a set of house keys! When closing day arrives, be prepared to attend with your state issued picture identification, a 10 year address history, your checkbook, and all other information requested by the closer. At the end of this hour meeting, you will be handed the keys to your new home.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm http://www.terieckholm.com/

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Say Vern…How much Earnest Money Do You Need to Buy a House?

I don’t know if Ernest ever went buy a house in the series of comedies Jim Varney made in the 1980’s but it could have made a good story line. However when buying a home, understanding real estate terms is no laughing matter In fact, it is serious business as a misunderstanding can make or break an offer and but a buyer’s money at risk.

When buying a home, the words thrown around can often be as confusing for a home buyer as Ernest often seemed to be. Home buyers want to be focused on the esthetics and mechanics of the property (the color of the paint and nuts & bolts of the structure) while the structure of the offer is often left to their REALTOR®. So I am never surprised by the silence when I pose the question, "How much are you prepared to write the earnest money check for?”

Earnest money is different than a down payment. These are funds submitted with the offer to the sellers’ real estate broker while a down payment is paid at the time of closing to the bank or mortgage company. The amount of the earnest money is something that the buyer determines based on the property. The amount will vary with each purchase agreement. A buyer must first understand the purpose of the earnest money to determine the right amount to include with the offer.

Earnest money is a term used for the funds that a buyer puts down to demonstrate to the seller their seriousness about buying a home. It should be an amount sufficient enough to indicate to the seller that the buyer will not walk away from the deal without good reason. In Minnesota, 1% of the purchase price is customary. But a buyer can offer more and a seller can ask for a higher amount as well. A lower amount may be acceptable in some circumstances; however it is important to be realistic.

Only a couple of years ago, a potential buyer wanted to write up an offer on at an open house of a home I had on the market in Forest Lake. The acreage home was set up with stables and a newer home. It was priced in the $300,000 range. This wheeling and dealing buyer wanted to impress the sellers with a whopping $100 earnest money check. The seller was significantly less than impressed. They knew the deal would be on shaky ground as with this unreasonable amount, the buyer could easily walk away from the deal.

Generally the earnest money funds are in the form of a check. If the offer is accepted, the money will be deposited into the listing broker’s trust or escrow account. In Minnesota, the funds must be deposited within three days of an offer having been accepted in writing. Yes, there needs to be money in the bank because that the check WILL be cashed after the offer has been accepted in writing.

If the offer is accepted, the earnest money will be applied to the down payment and/or the closing fees when the closing takes place. If your offer is not accepted the check is not cashed and your original check will be returned to you.

However, if the offer is accepted and the check cashed and then for some reason all contingencies are not met or other situation arises where the sale does not proceed, the buyer does not automatically receive a refund of the earnest money. Nor, does the seller automatically keep the down payment. The funds are disbursed as outlined in the purchase agreement or in some cases; the Buyer and seller must reach an agreement for the cancellation of the agreement before the funds can be disbursed.

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Home Buyers Can Make a Great DEAL in this Changed Real Estate Market!

Howie Mandle isn't the only one giving people the opportunity of a lifetime....You CAN Make a GREAT Deal if you buy a home now. For the past couple of years now, the term "Buyer's Market" has been synonymous with the real estate market. Obviously this is the opposite of the "Seller's Market" term that had been used for the prior decade. I also made a practice of tossing around these descriptions. Awhile back, I decided when I use these terms, I negatively affect half of my clients.
A buyer's market, defined as a market with many sellers and few buyers, gives the impression that all buyers are winners making the sellers the losers. Likewise, in a seller's market, with fewer sellers than buyers, there was an implication of the sellers getting the upper hand in every deal.
But here's the rub: In this market, not ALL sellers lose and not ALL buyers win.
A seller that purchased a home in the early 1990's, maintained it properly, diligently made payments and didn't refinance out all of their equity can sell a home today at a handsome profit. This seller is in no way a loser.
A buyer who purchases a foreclosed home from a bank without a disclosure for a price well below the value of neighboring properties then discovers toxic black mold in the walls costing, a failed septic system or cement in the plumbing with unexpected repairs in the tens of thousands is not a winner.
These situations are part of today's CHANGED real estate market. Yes, that is how I describe the market now. I avoid the phrases, "buyer's market" and "seller's market" and used "changed market" instead. Face it, the market has changed. But there can be winners on both sides of the transaction.
Here's a case in point: A savvy young couple, who wanted to take advantage of the glut of new construction models on the market last year in the Forest Lake area and sell the Anoka County starter home they had outgrown, were winners! They negotiated with a major builder on a perfect model and saved over $30,000 on the price. Then after making all necessary repairs, they listed their home at a rock bottom price equal to what they had paid for it four years earlier, and sold it in less than 60 days.
Did they lose money on the sale of their previous home? Some might think so, but this educated couple realized they were not losers. Their gain from the builder far outweighed the money they supposed “lost” on their sale. Had it been a hot "Seller's Market" they might have sold their starter home for a few thousand more but the builder would never have negotiated the drastic price reduction. All parties in this transaction were winners all the way around...The buyer of the starter home got a great deal. The move up couple sold quickly and got and awesome deal. The builder reduced their home inventory. Win. Win. Win.
This is just one example of the success stories I have witnessed this past year in this CHANGED real estate market. I know of dozens of examples of other individuals and families, both buyers and sellers, who are winners in this market.Is it your turn to be a winning home buyer? If you are thinking that now is the time to make a move but the constant gloom and doom of the media has you sitting on the fence about buying, contact a REALTOR® to help you assess your situation. Getting professional real estate assistance from the get-go is the best way to "MAKE A GREAT DEAL" in this changed market.
The young move-up couple in the previous story had contacted me months prior to finding their dream home to figure out a plan of action. I give sellers throughout the north and east Twin Cities metro area realistic facts about how to get their homes ready and where they need to be priced. They were prepared and ready to negotiate realistically with buyers when an offer came in on their property.
When I meet first time buyers, I give them a packet of information on how to buy a home so they are prepared for what to expect in the process. Before we start deciding whether to look at homes in Forest Lake, Ham Lake, Blaine or Hugo, I make certain my buyers are pre-approved for a loan with a reliable mortgage broker who will get the job done. Clients understand exactly what they can afford and what their payment will be. Then I discuss with my buyers the opportunities and pitfalls when looking at foreclosed homes, short sales, new construction and owner occupied homes. Prepared clients are then ready to jump on the perfect house and when the situation arises. With my expert assistance, buyers understand how to finesse a low offer as a starting point to negotiations so they can get their dream home at a price acceptable to both parties.
Are you ready to make a move? Team up with a great REALTOR® and get educated!
When buying a home in today's market, you can make a GREAT deal. Win-win sales are not only possible, they are my goal in every transaction!

Copyright 2009 Teri Eckholm