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