Home Buyers

Home Buying: Is this the right time?

By Mariella Reyes
April 19, 2018

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ismael Chavez of TEAM ChavezHomes at CENTURY 21 Discovery to discuss if this is the right time to buy a home.

“Clients always ask me if this is a good or bad time to buy their home,” CENTURY 21 Discovery’s Real Estate agent, Ismael Chavez says. Eleven years after, buyers entering the market are still shaken up by 2008’s housing bubble. According to Chavez it’s unlikely another bubble will happen again soon because of the fixed interest rates the circumstances are different.

Photo Credit: Marlon Marshall Parungao

Ismael Chavez began his real estate career in 2007, right before the market crash. “Those were dark times for the real estate industry, but the experience made me a stronger and better REALTOR®. I care about my clients,” he says. Shortly after the housing bubble, he expanded his practice and formed his team of agents operating under the business name of TEAM ChavezHomes at CENTURY 21 Discovery located in Fullerton, CA.

Chavez is optimistic about the future of the industry.

Ismael, what are some tips you can give future home buyers and sellers?

“It’s a seller’s market; we get many buyers but we have a shortage of homes for sale. It’s a great opportunity for those who’ve been thinking of moving and selling their homes. Although there’s never a wrong time to buy, home buyers will have to be competitive and focused during their search!”

We’ve added some extra pointers for both Buyers and Sellers below.  Happy house hunting.

About the Author: Mariella Reyes, is an Independent Content Writer for TEAM ChavezHomes of CENTURY 21 Discovery.  She’s worked as a content writer and producer for brands in the industries of escrow, mobile, fashion, plastic surgery, and beauty, and was the Marketing Coordinator during her time on the Board of Directors for Lean IN Los Angeles in 2016-2017. You can contact her at: mariella.reyesm@gmail.com

 

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Prequalified or Preapproved: Which Is Right For You?

By Nicole Johnson of New American Funding*
September 13, 2017
Originally published on September 12, 2017

(Photo courtesy of New American Funding)

This is it. You’re ready to make the move into homeownership. From all the online searching you’ve done, you know you need to get “pre-something-ed” to prove you are a serious buyer. However, which is it: prequalified or preapproved? Both sound good, but they serve different purposes.

Getting Prequalified

When you ask a Loan Officer to perform a prequalification, you can do it online, by phone, or in person. They’ll ask you to share information, often verbally, on your credit, your income; assets (savings, investments, retirement accounts the amount of equity you have in any real estate you currently own); and the amount of debt you owe.

It’s a conversation that helps establish some financial parameters before you start looking at and making offers on homes by helping you answer two key questions:

  • What price range should I be looking in when I start my search?
  • Am I ready to do this, or do I need to save more or pay down more debt?

While the process is useful, especially for first time homebuyers, it isn’t rigorous enough to distinguish you from the other attendees at an open house or when you request a showing. The reason is that the letter is based off something akin to a “best guess” by the Loan Officer, it’s not reviewed by an Underwriter, and doesn’t address the question that matters most to sellers, Real Estate Agents, and to you: Can they/we expect to be approved for the type of mortgage needed to buy this home?  To answer that, you need to be preapproved.

Preapprovals Open More Doors

The preapproval process is like a test drive before you submit your application for a mortgage. The Loan Officer and an Underwriter will verify the facts and figures you discuss, along with your credit history. This process can also help pinpoint things you might want to improve—or errors that you’ll want to correct—before entering the formal application review process. Loan Officers will also begin looking for mortgage programs that might apply to your financial situation. The preapproval process is more rigorous than a prequalification and because it is fully underwritten, helps ensure your home buying process with go more smoothly.

In addition to ordering your credit report, Loan Officers may ask for copies of:

  • Last year’s W-2s.
  • Current pay stubs.
  • Brokerage and other savings account statements.
  • Your monthly expenses.
  • A current mortgage statement and homeowner’s policy (if applicable).

Once you are preapproved, you’ll receive a letter to share with Real Estate Agents and sellers. After you have an offer accepted on a property, you will still need to officially apply for a mortgage. That review process will involve a deeper dive into the information you’ve already provided, as well as into the specifics of the property itself. Fortunately, having a preapproval also means faster service and turn times to get you into your home sooner, so the official mortgage application is likely to be easier than with just a prequalification.

Why Bother Getting Prequalified?

The prequalification process takes very little time or effort on your part. Any cost is typically limited to that of ordering a credit report. When you already have an idea of the area where you want to look and what type of home you can afford, skipping the prequalification step can make sense. Its best use is as a preliminary step for those who need a starting point.

By comparison, for most buyers, a preapproval is a step they shouldn’t skip. Having a letter from a lender that states you are preapproved can be especially helpful in neighborhoods where the existing home inventory is tight…and when the home you are looking at is perfect. Being preapproved makes it easier for the seller to accept your offer over that of a buyer that hasn’t taken this extra step.

*Article reprinted with permission from New American Funding. Licensed by the California Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act – License #4131117 Broker Solutions Inc. dba New American Funding (NMLS #6606) Corporate Office is located at 14511 Myford Road, Suite 100, Tustin, CA 92780. 800.450.2010

One of “Those Days” in Real Estate

By Joe Lins
February 6, 2017

Whether or not your team won the Super Bowl yesterday, today is one of “those days” in residential real estate.  It’s a day that historically the real estate market just “picks up” for the new year.  Inquiries become appointments, Sellers are ready, open houses have more traffic and Buyers are just more interested!

Real Estate Agent at an Open House

Other examples of these kind of eventful days are tax day [April 15], the day kids start summer vacation, the 4th of July and Memorial Day to name a few.  Hopefully, you have been diligently working and are already on your way to accomplishing your 2017 goals.  At CENTURY 21 Discovery we are focused on a positive attitude, accountability, listening to our Clients and understanding their goals, and continuing our education through Coaching and Learning Sessions.

As of today there are 32 NFL Teams whose goal is to win the Super Bowl in 2018 and only one will hold the trophy at the end of the game.  They have already begun the preparation. Are you prepared? I invite you to take a closer look at what we are all about at CENTURY 21 Discovery and how we can assist you in achieving your goals in 2017.

JoeLins

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

What Drives Mortgage Rates?

By Chris Smith
September 27, 2016

There are many things that drive mortgage rates available to Buyers. Some things are out of your control: National Employment Patterns, the Stock Market, actions of the Federal Reserve, natural disasters and geopolitical or global events.

Let’s focus on the things you CAN control to get the mortgage rate that fits your budget and allows you to get into that home you want.

what-drives-mortgage-rates

Credit Score
The better your credit score the lower your interest rate. Having a high credit score makes you a more favorable borrower in the eyes of the lender. First, find out what your credit score is. Then try improving your credit score before you start the loan application process. Talk to your loan consultant on ways you can improve your score.

Down Payment
There are a lot of low down payment options for borrowers. What you may not know is that if you increase your down payment on the home you are buying you can secure a lower interest rate. This can ultimately save you more money over the life of the loan.

Size of the Loan
The amount of money you borrow can impact the interest rate.  A larger loan amount will usually have a higher interest rate. The reason for this is because paying back a larger loan amount will likely take long and there is more at stake for the lending organization.

Type of Property and Occupancy
Loan pricing is slightly lower for single family homes compared to condominiums. Owner occupied loans also have lower rates than non-owner or investment properties.

The best way to understand all your options regarding interest rates is to talk to a loan consultant BEFORE you start your home search.

chrissmith2014

 

About the Author: Chris Smith is a Senior Mortgage Consultant (NMLS  #253394) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at 714.401.5921. 

Do’s and Don’ts During The Loan Process

By Bill FitzMaurice
May 19, 2016

You found your dream home and your offer was accepted. Congratulations, but before you start packing for your big move there are some definite Do’s & Don’ts we recommend buyers to follow as they go through the loan process.

DO:

DO ask donor(s) for gifted funds as soon as possible, if being used towards your down payment. Ask your Loan Officer about the necessary steps and documentation for gifts.

DO stay current on all your payments: mortgage, car payments, credit cards, student loans and any other debt.

DO continue to use your credit as normal. Changing your pattern may raise a red flag, causing your credit score to go down.

DO wait to make a major purchase such as a new car, boat or appliance until after your loan has funded.

DO keep copies of all important financial documents so you will be ready to provide if asked: check stubs, W-2’s, tax returns, bank and investment account statements, rental agreements, etc.

FemaleOnComputerDON’T:

DON’T keep cash in a safe or an overseas account if you plan to use these funds as a down payment. Ask your Loan Officer how and when would be the best time to put funds into your U.S. bank account if needed.

DON’T close credit card accounts. Keeping accounts open after you have paid them off lowers your debt-credit ratio. If you close a credit card account, it may appear that your debt ratio has gone up.

DON’T apply for new credit or give your personal information to anyone else who might run your credit report. Multiple credit inquiries may hurt your credit score.

DON’T make career moves. Your mortgage lender must verify your employment, so it’s crucial to maintain employment status.

DON’T make large deposits into your back account unless 100% necessary. If you must, save the documentation showing where the funds came from. Keep a “paper trail”.

Make sure to discuss any changes in your financial situation with your Loan Officer right away.

BillFitzmaurice2014(2)

 

About the Author: Bill FitzMaurice is a Senior Mortgage Consultant (NMLS #290216) with New American Funding. For more information about home financing you may contact him at (949) 291-1770.

Closing on a home? Don’t Forget the Insurance

By Michael Williams
April 29, 2016

Congratulations! You found your clients perfect dream home. You used your years of experience, professional expertise and pockets full of patience to satisfy every one of their unique requests. So, why it is still stuck in escrow? Your client is saying it’s that pesky insurance agent!

InsuranceBlogimage1… But the real holdup might be that “perfect home”….

Below is a 3 part checklist that will help you identify potential hang-ups with your client’s home insurance.­­

1.      Location, Location, Location.
It’s not just important to REALTORS®. Insurance companies have three main location related exposures that can complicate securing a policy. Distance from Brush, proximity to Coastline or placement in a Flood Zone.

  • In wonderfully sunny Southern California, we don’t have to worry too much about wind or hail, but we can never forget about brush. A good rule of thumb is to use an online map service such as Google or Bing and measure the distance from open land to the home. A standard acceptable measurement for brush exposure is 1500 ft.
  • For our lucky friends on the coast, the average rule is 500 ft from the shore. Again, the best course of action here is to measure with an online map.
  • Finally, the wild card is a Flood Zone. Because you often cannot visually predict where a flood zone will be, a helpful site is FEMA’s mapping tool. Simply type in the address and it will return a flood zone score.

2.      The claim history matters: both buyers and the home.
This section often surprises many people. But the ability to insure the home is based off the loss history of both the buyer and the home itself. Insurance companies split blame for losses between the owner of the home and the structure itself. For example, when a water loss occurs, a point is assigned to the address and the owners. Getting as complete of a disclosure list as possible can help determine whether that home has a history of losses. In the state of California, water losses are the number one cause of loss and it is now almost universal for preferred market insurers to deny a home because of 2 or more water losses. If this is the case you can assume that insurance will double in cost and take a minimum of one week to place.

3. Good Bones vs. New Homes.
Age of the house is big player in acceptability. Some buyers want new construction and that’s great! But, others want classic charm. That beautiful home built in the 1920’s comes with its own host of potential hiccups. Many insurance companies won’t even write a home built prior to 1950. But the ones that do, require proof of complete upgrades to plumbing, heating, wiring and roofing. And it’s not just the cute cottage that could be a problem. Many Carriers are looking for upgrades on any home older than 20 years! So find out if the bones of that house beyond their useful life.

InsuranceBlogimage2

As every realtor knows, no two purchases are the same. And while the client should always get the house they want, it’s best to build in that little bit of extra time should one of the items above be a potential problem. Simply call the insurance agent a bit early. A little planning can make for a much smoother escrow.

MikeWilliams2


About the Author: Michael Williams is Chief Operating Officer at Williams Insurance Company in Fullerton, CA. If you would like more information about insuring a home please call him at 714.526.5588 or visit the website at www.williamsinsurancefullerton.com

Unique Property Websites

By Suzy Lins
March 30, 2016

The fun part about working at CENTURY 21 Discovery is that I get to see all the cool marketing tools that our agents have access to through the Century 21® system. One tool that benefits our sellers as well as our agents is the Unique Property Sites. These are websites that are dedicated to selling the home. We all know buyers are searching online and these sites provide them with the property details and photos as well as allows sharing the sites through social media and email. These sites are designed for mobile devices too so buyers can access them from anywhere.

Check out this short video about the sites:

SuzyLins

 

About the author: Suzy Lins is the Communications Director for CENTURY 21 Discovery. For more information about CENTURY 21 Discovery you may call (714) 626-2000.

Interview with C.A.R. Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young

By Joe Lins
February 15, 2016

I had the opportunity to interview California Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young after her presentation at the Pacific West Association of REALTORS® February general membership meeting. I asked her three questions about the real estate industry and specifically Orange County real estate.

Those three questions were:

1) What is the biggest disruption facing the real estate industry?

2) How healthy is the Orange County real estate market?

3) What is the biggest opportunity for the consumer in Orange County?

She’s a smart woman and I value her insight. Watch this short video for her responses.

 

Joe Lins photo

 

About the author: Joe Lins is President and Co-owner of CENTURY 21 Discovery. If you are interested in becoming part of the CENTURY 21 Discovery team or would like more information about our services contact Joe at 714.626.2069.

Escrow and How It Works

By Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda
February 2, 2016

Buying a home is a huge undertaking and requires a good understanding of the process. In California, once a buyer and seller agree to the terms of the sale the next step is to open escrow. First time buyers or people who have not bought or sold a home in awhile may not know what escrow is.

Couple taking a break from unpacking

Here is a brief overview of what escrow is and how it works.

What is Escrow?

Escrow is a process that protects the interest of all parties in a real estate transaction, ensuring that all the conditions of the sale have been met before property and money change hands.

Why Do I Need One?

You need escrow to ensure that all parties have complied with the escrow instructions before any funds are disbursed or title is transferred. The escrow company has an obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the officer’s possession and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all parties have met the terms of the escrow instructions.

What is the Escrow process?

Once a purchase contract has been negotiated to the satisfaction of both the seller and buyer, a legible fully-signed copy is forwarded to the escrow company. The escrow officer will then prepare supplemental instructions and place the earnest money deposit into a trust account. The buyer and seller can move forward separately, but simultaneously, in obtaining inspections, reports, loan commitments, funds, deeds and many other items using escrow as the central depositing point.

Who to Contact with Questions:

Your REALTOR® will answer questions about your purchase contract agreement. Your loan officer will answer all questions about your loan status, conditions of your loan and the loan process. Your escrow officer will help or direct you with any other questions. A good escrow officer understands you will have questions and should be willing to answer them or direct you to the person who can.

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About the Author: Nancy Mattaliano-Castaneda is an Escrow Officer at Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. in Fullerton, California. For more information about Equity Escrow Group, Ltd. call 714.626.2095 or visit the website www.equityescrow.net.

5 Places You Forgot Potential Buyers Will Check

By Guest Blogger
October 15, 2015
This was originally published on the official blog of Century 21® on October 14, 2015 *

An open house is a crucial component of the home sale process. Start with these tips for staging an open house, but don’t stop there. Potential buyers are likely to inspect all areas of the house. Yes, even your “junk drawer” and closets. Here’s a list of five often forgotten places that potential homeowners may check.

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The sides of your house

When you spruce up your front yard and backyard, pay attention the sides of your home as well. Potential buyers will likely look at the exterior of your house from all angles. One unkempt side may turn them off from the rest of the home. Make sure the paint and landscaping is in good condition from all angles.

Inside your closets

Don’t stuff everything in your closets and hope no one will open them. Even if the potential buyers aren’t fashionistas, they may still care about closet space. Show it off by organizing it. You wouldn’t want a potential buyer to open a closet just to find a hodgepodge of the belongings you stashed there.

Under your bed

Removing the bulk of storage from your closets is a great way to make closet space appear bigger, but that doesn’t mean your stuff should be shoved under the bed. Not only is it an eyesore, but the potential homebuyer might also see it as a sign that there is not enough storage space. Your best bet is to invest in temporary external storage space so that your open house has all the space it needs.

Inside the shower

Chances are no one wants a small, cramped bathroom. Create storage solutions that may make your space appear bigger and brighter to buyers. For example, stash toiletries and cleaning supplies in a separate closet, a dresser, or under the sink.

Your drawers and cabinets

Potential buyers will probably open drawers and cabinets. Spend time getting inspired by these home organizers. Think about all of the details like your spice rack, whether your dishes match, and finally taming your “junk drawer.” In need of more inspiration? Our Pins may help!

Go the extra mile, and don’t get caught off guard. You wouldn’t want to scream a slow motion “nooooo” as a potential buyer innocently reaches to open a closet.

*Article reprinted with permission of Century 21 Real Estate LLC.