The Home Appraisal Process: What to Expect as a Buyer

What you should know about the home appraisal process as a buyer.

The home appraisal process is an important and necessary part of the home buying process. For the most part, this is a hands-off process for both the buyer and seller. The homeowner will have to give the appraiser access to the home unless there is a lock box on the front door. Aside from that, the buyer and seller don’t need to be involved in the appraisal process at all.

During the home process, there are a few steps that occur:

  1. The buyer/borrower makes an offer to buy a house.
  2. The seller accepts the offer, eventually, and the two parties sign a purchase agreement.
  3. The signed purchase agreement will then go to the buyer’s mortgage lender.
  4. The lender will order an appraisal. They are almost always required when a home loan is used.
  5. The appraiser will visit the property and compare it to recently sold homes to determine its value.
  6. The lender wants to know if the house is worth what the buyer has agreed to pay for it.
  7. If the home appraises at or above the agreed-upon purchase price, the loan will likely move forward.
  8. If the home appraises low, the seller may have to lower the asking price. Or the buyer can back out.

During their visit, the home appraiser will make note of the agreed-upon purchase price. He/she will then review recent comparable sales in the area to determine if the property is worth the amount the buyer has agreed to pay. These are known as “comps” for short. He or she will examine both the interior and exterior of the home, comparing them to the recent sales and examining features that the comparable homes do not have. All of this can be done within 1 to 3 days, generally.

Have more questions about home improvements? Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Mistakes Homebuyers Commonly Make

Don’t make these common mistakes that home buyers make.

There’s nothing quite like buying a property. Whether you’re looking for your first or fifth home, it is an exciting process. As a home buyer, you hope that the hunt and transaction will go smoothly. To help it do just that, we’ve narrowed down common mistakes that home buyers make – no matter if they are new to real estate or a seasoned buyer.

Mistake: Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage

Chances are good you’re going to need a mortgage to buy a property, so get a lender to agree to let you borrow before you start home shopping. Many buyers get too excited with the process of finding their property that they neglect this important step of proving to the seller that you can afford the house. It also helps you to understand your budget, meaning that you only look at homes that you can afford.

Mistake: Not thinking about traffic

Most people want to be in an area close to where they work. However, they often fail to think about rush hour traffic and how this can impact their commute. So, what they thought was a quick 30-minute drive turns out to be over an hour. This can leave a sour taste in your mouth about the purchase that you were once over the moon about.

Mistake: Not looking at the total cost of homeownership

First-time buyers frequently make the mistake of assuming a home’s affordable if the monthly mortgage is in their price range. However, homeownership comes with many additional costs. Seasoned home buyers may upsize their property, forgetting that their bills and maintenance may result in more cash needed.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

4 Eco-Friendly Upgrades for Your Home

Take a look at these impactful eco-friendly updates to make to your property.

April is host to Earth Day (22nd), and that means many of us are looking to make better decisions regarding our lifestyle. Our planet is the only home we have to live on and we should protect it as best we can. Being more eco-friendly around your home will not only help you contribute to a sustainable environment, but it can even save you money. To help we’ve rounded up a few eco-friendly upgrades to make to your property.

  • Opt for energy-efficient lightbulbs

It’s a small price to pay for energy-saving lightbulbs and they help to conserve the earth’s precious resources. LED lightbulbs, one of the most common energy-efficient lightbulbs, come in a variety of different colors and can easily fit into many types of designer light fixtures, which means you don’t have to sacrifice your stylish lighting design.

  • Use reclaimed wood for remodeling

Re-purposing is one of the key tenets of the eco-friendly building. Cutting down additional forests contributes to global warming, and wipes out species that we share this planet with. If you’re planning a new addition to the property or remodeling your kitchen countertops, consider doing so with reclaimed wood.

  • Install energy-efficient windows

No one wants to heat or cool a home only for all your efforts to be lost by the air going out the window. Eco-friendly homes use larger windows that make the most of the sun’s natural light and heat, and use energy-efficient sealing and insulation.

  • Make your garden green

The maintenance of lawns and gardens is not necessarily environmentally friendly. Living in California, you may know that water continues to be an issue. If you have a rose garden and a vibrant green lawn, you may be overusing water. Instead, create a “green” garden by choosing to plant drought-friendly plants such as succulents, and switch your green grass for a bed of wildflowers native to your area.

Have more questions about home upgrades? Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Tips for Buyers on How to Buy a Home with a Tax Lien

Purchasing a home that has a tax lien.  

You’ve finally found your perfect home. The only problem is that it has a tax lien. Your friends and family may have told you to consider the lien a red flag and move on. However, you’re not sure. More often than not, a tax lien on a property doesn’t need to get in the way of your perfect home purchase. It’s simply a matter of doing your homework on the reason behind the lien, the amount it’s for, and whether the agreed-upon sale price will take care of the seller’s debt.

Property taxes are collected by state and local governments to fund public services and institutions, most often associated with public education, first responder services, and operational costs of local museums and parks. A lien is placed on a property when the homeowner fails to pay annual property taxes to the state or government. The lien is the amount owed and must be paid in order for the sale of the property to go through. Other forms of tax debt can also lead to a tax lien on the property.

If there’s a lot of money owed on the lien, you could be setting yourself up for a significant financial loss. Mortgage lenders take a more cautious approach. If you’re obtaining financing to purchase the property,then you will probably not be able to purchase a house with a tax lien on it.

If you need a loan to purchase the house, then you will most likely not be able to purchase as long as the tax lien is attached to the property. Most mortgage lenders require a first lien position on the property, and a tax lien will have first lien priority over the new mortgage loan. Therefore, your mortgage lender will require somebody to pay the taxes and have the tax lien removed before it will give you a mortgage loan on the property. In some circumstances, a tax lien may be subordinated which would allow the transaction to proceed.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Curb Appeal Tricks to Attract Homebuyers

Make sure your client attracts homebuyers with these curb appeal tricks. 

Are you working with a homeowner to list their property? If so, you want to be sure that they pay particular attention to ensuring the outside of the house looks its best at all times. Buyers only have one chance to make an impression on a seller, and the front of the house is the first thing people will see. If it’s looking lacklustre, check out these tips to improve curb appeal that you can relay to your client. 

  • Give the front door a facelift – Give the front door a fresh lick of paint (or paint it a new, bold color!) and molding for a grand entrance to your home!
  • Painting or re-painting – This is a great way to drastically alter the home’s curb appeal and it may be the perfect option if you want to give your house a brand new look. Give the exterior walls some flair by picking a different (but neutral) color.
  • Change the light fixture – This brightens up the house while creating a safe and inviting environment.
  • Make the bed – Groomed garden beds indicate that the home has been well-maintained. Add some fresh, spring flowers, remove dead weeds and any debris to tidy and brighten up the front garden.
  • Prune and divide – Trim shrubs, making sure to remove dead branches. Get rid of dead or diseased plants in the landscape. If there are perennial plants that have gotten too big, divide them and plant them in other places around the landscape.
  • Trim the trees – The home needs to be visible from the curb so cut overgrown bushes and trees that blockage the driveway, path, or windows.
  • Wash away the dirt – Many homeowners never realize how dirty their house gets! Turn the garden hose to the strongest setting to eradicate any dirt from the house and driveway.
  • Fence around the yard – A small and neat fence is a great way to give the home a nice and cozy look.
  • Let in light – Clean the windows to make them sparkle.

Have more questions about home improvements? Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Should Home Buyers Buy a Property with Cash?

Talking to your home buyer about purchasing with cash.

Is your home buyer thinking about purchasing a property with cash? If so, make sure that they understand the implications of purchasing with cash, and the pitfalls that they could encounter. Although paying cash is still a far-fetched dream for many people, it’s becoming more common in the real estate market. Buyers should be mindful that it may not always be the right option.  Here’s what buyers should know.

Mortgage qualification

If you have enough cash to purchase a home outright, lenders will likely view you favourably for mortgage options. With a down payment of 20 percent or more, you don’t have to worry about mortgage insurance when it comes to a conventional loan, and you’re likely to receive a low-interest rate.

Loss of liquidity

Generally, it’s not wise to purchase a home with cash if you have just enough liquidity to pay for it. Cash is important to have on hand for unexpected disasters, such as a new roof or a medical emergency. You need to have some sort of a backup in case you lose your income.

Tax breaks

All homeowners with a mortgage receive a tax break on the interest paid to the lender. The interest you accrue when you pay on the loan is huge. If you choose to pay for your home in cash, you miss out on this tax break. 

Some buyers don’t realize they can close with cash and refinance right away to get a portion of their cash back in hand, while still keeping a possible interest deduction with financing.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

What Should a Seller Fix?

Prepare your seller to repair these important items.

Homeowners often overlook a lot of the wear and tear that happens to the property over the years. But, when they are starting to think about selling the property, the state of the home becomes much clearer. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to get the most money out of your property or a real estate agent who is working with a new seller, take a look at these common issues that need to be repaired when selling a property.

  • Paint

Paint is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to update the look of a property before listing it. Lighter and neutral colors are preferred when selling because they tend to appeal to most people. Not every room needs to be painted, but a touch up on the important rooms and exterior won’t go amiss.

  • Lighting

Lighting can make even the smallest home seem open and inviting. To maximize the perception of space, take advantage of bright and well-placed lights. If there are ‘dated’ light fixtures, this is another area to address. Updating the lighting fixtures can translate into a quicker sale.

  • Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it pays to give it extra attention. A large kitchen renovation isn’t’ required, but updating the lighting fixtures, paintwork, and countertops can help to appeal to more home buyers. 

Have more questions about home improvements? Buying and selling a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

3 Ways to Capture More Listings Without Cold Calling

Ideas on how to get more listings without picking up the phone. 

Most of us aren’t natural cold callers. It can be awkward, intrusive, and even counterproductive. Fortunately, there are many ways you can still get real estate leads without picking up the phone and trying to generate interest. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Target divorcees

Although this is a slightly taboo topic, it does present a great opportunity for agents looking for listings. Did you know that most judges mandate that couples sell their current property? This means that you have an opportunity to help divorcees to navigate a swift and easy home sale. You can target this group through social media fortunately, meaning you don’t have to make awkward announcements on social networks.

Vacant homes

It’s a good idea to prospect vacant homes. This can take quite a bit of legwork, but they may prove to be worth it. Once you find them, it’s just a matter of time before the previous homeowner wants to sell. You can use your local county clerk’s website to prospect for homes that might be vacant.

Partner with the community

Small local banks, builders, plumbers, electricians, and more are looking for business just like you. Look up possible businesses you would want to work with and then devise a plan of action on how to capture their attention. Be sure to follow up with them every month and figure out a way for the two of you to work together.

These tips can help you to become a better, more efficient real estate agent. When you’re looking for more tips and advice about the industry, talk to the experts at Dean Rathbun. We have the right resources for your needs.

What to Tell Your Real Estate Buyer Early On

What you should let your real estate clients know.  

Real estate deals fall through every day for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, many times these occur because the real estate agent or broker forgot to or didn’t explain something clearly to the client. It may seem overwhelming, but educating your buyer clients early on in the process can spare you heartache down the line. Here is what you should tell your buyers early on.

A very low offer can backfire on you.

Sometimes, a slow market with rising inventory can encourage buyers to make low-ball offers to test the sellers’ motivation. It’s typical that sellers come back with a high counter offer to draw the buyer up to a decent price. However, going in with a low offer approach can backfire. If the homeowner has loved their property for many years, such a low offer can offend them and cause damage to the relationship.

I’m not an expert in X, but I can help you locate one.

Many buyers have this preconceived notion that a real estate agent can help them with all things home and property related. In many cases, this is true. However, you may not also be a lawyer, appraiser, or engineer. Don’t take on too many tasks that you are not comfortable with, as this can end up with them being disappointed later on.

Avoid buying new furniture until the deal closes.

We’ve all been there – close to a sale where the buyer gets too excited and starts splashing out on new furniture to fill their new home. This can dramatically affect their credit, meaning that if the lender runs a check the day before closing, they may reconsider the agreement because of this new debt. Advise your buyer to make no significant credit changes or purchases during this critical period.

Need industry advice on how to sell a property and expand your book of business? Talk to the experts at Dean Rathbun who can help you get started today.

How to Break the Myth That All Real Estate Agents Are the Same

Tips on how you can stand out from the real estate crowd.

As a real estate agent in California, you may know by now that the industry is full of hot competition. You want yourself as an agent and the services you offer to stand out from the crowd – but so does everyone else. It’s not just real estate agents that suffer with this. Buyers and sellers can often think that it doesn’t matter which agent they choose – they’re all the same. To help you truly shine in this industry and prove you’re different, take a look at these tips.

Think outside the box

When a real estate agent thinks of promotional material, the first thought is often to plaster their headshot on signs, business cards, and benches. However, this can be seen as an outdated method that doesn’t capture that much attention these days. Professionals should take the time to demonstrate a true respect for buyers and sellers. Like most marketing material these days, it should be clean and concise.

Highlight your services

Do you do anything different than most real estate agents and agencies? If so, let your followers and fans know! If you have particularly good reviews and referrals, make sure to share them on your site and social media. People like to know what they’re getting out of a service, especially if it is from someone you have previously worked with.

Leverage referrals

Similar to above, make sure you use referrals to your advantage. A review from a previous client gives more depth to your agency as people see you as a person rather than just another service provider. Make sure to ask for referrals from your clients so that you have a nice accumulation of reviews.

As a real estate agent, you help buyers find their dream homes. The team at Dean Rathbun can help agents grow their reach and book of business. Whether you need an expert network or resources to expand your agency, we’re here to help. Visit our team to learn more.