Home Buyers Guide: What to Check in a Final Walk Through

What an exciting day; the day you close on your new home! A few days before, your REALTOR called to schedule the date and time of the final walk-through. You thought, “This is great! I needed to check the paint color in the kitchen and my parents want to see the house.” But that is not what the final walk-through is for. This is your final chance to see the property before you sign on the dotted line and close the sale. It is an appointment take seriously. You must stay focused and examine the condition of the property one last time.

The purchase agreement signed in the state of Minnesota requires the seller to warrant that the mechanicals including: central air conditioning, heating, plumbing and wiring systems are in working order on the date of closing. It also insures the buyer the right to a “walk-through” review of the property prior to closing. This is not something to waive. A few years ago, there was a news report of first-time buyers who had just closed on their new home. They intended to move right in after closing but arrived to find a nightmare. In the time since seeing the home and writing a purchase agreement, a pipe had burst and flooded the entire home. They skipped the final walk-through as they felt it a waste of time. They became the proud and very frustrated owners of a huge mess. Although they may have legal remedies for having the home repaired, these buyers would have been in a much better position if they negotiated with the seller prior to closing. Or in the case of this extreme damage, the buyers could have not signed the final documents to purchase the home.

Every buyer should do a final walk-through on the home as close to the closing as possible. I suggest to my clients that we schedule the walk-through immediately prior to the closing. We meet one hour before at the home to review the condition of the property and then go directly to the closing. Any problems are noted and I immediately contact the seller’s agent so they have time to discuss the situation with their seller before our arrival. The walk-through just prior to closing doesn’t eliminate every surprise that a new buyer might face.

But it significantly reduces the chance of closing on an unknown disaster. Here is a quick guide of some of the areas to consider during a final walk through Final Walk-Through Guide

Double Check the Paperwork **Are all work orders complete?

Exterior Review **Check for any changes to exterior since purchase agreement.

Plumbing Review **Check for any changes to plumbing since purchase agreement.

Interior Rooms Review **Check for any changes to interior since purchase agreement.

Electrical Review ****Check for any changes to electrical since purchase agreement.

Furnace and Air Conditioning Review Attic and Basement Review **Check for any changes since purchase agreement.

The final walkthrough should be done with a COMPLETE CHECKLIST and organized plan. After a review of the home inside and out with a checklist will get you back to exciting part of that final walk-through…Will the new sofa look better here or there?

Thinking of Buying a Used Mobile Home? 18 Steps For What to Watch Out For and How to Do it Right

If you are thinking of buying a used mobile home, there are things you need to watch out for. Buying a mobile home is not like buying a regular stick built. You need to know what to watch out for before you buy a used mobile home. Here are 10 things to watch out for when buying a used mobile home. These tips will guide you to make the right decision and/or how to negotiate in your best interest. Better safe than sorry. My seven years of selling used mobile homes has taught me a lot. I am now passing on that information to you so that you can make an educated choice.

1. Age. If your finances are tight, do not buy anything older than 1977. That is the cutout time for good financing and also the year a lender can determine if the used mobile home is a HUD home. 1976 and older were registered with DMV and not built to code. Therefor, lenders requires a 20% down on a 1976 or older. The term will be no longer than 15 years and the rate will be somewhere around 11-12%. That is a lot to pay. 1977 or newer requires only 10% down, you can get 20 years of financing and the rate is 1-2% lower. That is a much better deal. If the home is newer, the rate can be as low as 8%. Preferable, look for a home that is no more than 15 years old.

2. Park. Not all parks are approved by the lenders. Before making an offer to purchase, get yourself loan approved for that particular park. If the space rent is too high or if there are too many foreclosures in the park, lenders might say no to financing.

3. Rent control. Is it or is it not? Most parks are but some are not. If not, make sure yo fully understand what kind of yearly increase the park will impose on you. You might not mind paying that extra increase per year but each time the space rent is raised, the value of your mobile home WILL go down. Its like a car, depreciating. Still, it beats renting an apartment with people above, below, left and right.

4. Crime. Does the park have a security program? Is the park patrolled regularly by a security patrol company? If not, you probably should stay away. Yes, it is true, all residents have to follow the rules and regulations but if there is no security, many things can happen. A security patrol is a deterrent, crime will go elsewhere. Call the park manager and inquire. You can also call the local police office and ask for a crime report. Strongly recommended.

5. Pets. What is the parks policy? Your 80 ldb golden retriever might have a VERY hard time getting approved. Same for your pitt bull or any other so called “vicious breed”. Most parks will NOT approve them. There is only one park in the Santa Clarita Valley that will approve a large dog, even two. However, no “vicious breeds”. How stupid. Recently, I had a dog trainer with good credit, a large down payment and a German shepherd. That dog was the most well trained German shepherd but no, considered “vicious”. So are dobermans, boxers, pinchers, chows and a couple of more. Inquire with the park BEFORE looking at any used (or new) mobile home. Save yourself the time (and your agents) by finding out first.

6. Neighbors. Most people are nice. However, since you are going to be living in tight quarters (most mobile home spaces are small and set very closely together), go and talk to the neighbors. Both the ones next door and some a few doors down. The ones a few doors down are the ones that will tell you what REALLY is going on. Maybe the couple next door do not get along any more. Maybe there is an alcohol problem. Maybe the kids play too loud. You need to know. Drive by in the evening, hang around for a while. Do the same for the weekend. Spend an hour on a Saturday night, driving around the mobile home park, you will then now if this is a place for you.

7. Managers. Do they do a great job? Do they care? Do they make the residents follow the rules and regulations? Do they arrange get togethers every now and then? Any holiday dinners? Do they publish a newsletter to keep you updated? Do you feel welcome in their office? Most managers take great pride in their park and are happy to try to help you. Make sure that is the case.

8. Trash. An old toilet sitting at the end of a car port? Knee-high weeds? A car jacked up and being worked on in a carport? You do not want that. What you should want, is a clean, manicured park community where the residents take pride in their mobile homes and keeps their surroundings clean. A carport is not supposed to be used for storage (or a back yard). A shed is where you keep your excess belongings, period.

9. Mobile home values. Holding steady? Going up? Declining? Have your Realtor find out for you. Buying a used mobile home is very much like buying a used car. A seller can set any price but is it worth it? Please do not over-pay. If you need to finance your used mobile home, you are then in a much safer position. You are then required to pay for an appraisal to find out the REAL value of the mobile home. However, if you are planning to buy your mobile home for cash, watch out. No appraisal is required but I would recommend you pay the $400 to the appraiser. It could save you thousands. The choice is yours.

10. Health and Safety. What condition is the mobile home in? The basics should all be there. If not, it is the sellers responsibility to have it done. That includes;

A. Smoke alarms. Each bedroom needs one, that is the code. And, it needs to be working!

B. Water heater. Needs to be double-strapped and not with those tiny metal bands that has little wholes in them. Is there a pressure release valve? If it where to over-flow, does the pipe go underneath? Should not. It needs to extend out to the side of the skirting. Is the water heater closet dry-walled? Has to be. Any leaks?

C. Steps. Are they solid? No rips in the carpeting (trip hazard)? What about the railing? Is it loose? Can not be. How far apart are the rails? Should not be more than 4″ so that a small child can NOT get stuck in between.

D. Cooling system. Does it work? It is not really a health and safety issue but if it were me, I would insist on it or ask for a reduction in price. Who wants to live in a used mobile home, maybe with metal siding as well, and summer comes around and it is 105 degrees outside.

E. The furnace. When was it last serviced and how dirty is the pad? Take a good look and make sure it works. Have someone come and take a look at it.

F. Plumbing. Any leaks? Should not. Run all faucets and look underneath.

G. Electrical. Does all the outlets and the switches work? Make sure they do. GFI’s? You do not want the risk of being electrocuted. Both kitchen and bathrooms needs GFI plugs.

H. Roof. Any leaks? Look around carefully to see if there are any water stains in the ceilings or around the upper walls. How old is the roof?

I. Earthquake bracing. Does it have it? Bring a flashlight and open up the access door in the skirting. There should be (on a double wide mobile home), two in the front and two in the back. Compare them to the regular piers and jacks. Are they beefier? Bolted to the I-beam? They should be. Surprisingly enough, there are still some used mobile homes out there who do NOT have them. On top of that, it is not considered a health and safety issue and it is perfectly legal to sell a used mobile home WITHOUT them!

If you do buy a used mobile home without earthquake bracing and later on decides that it was not the smartest idea, a contractor will charge you about $5000 to install them. Not cheap. If it does not have it, ask for a price reduction and then order the escrow company to set aside $5000 to the contractor. At the close of escrow, your contractor will come out and install them for you. If you can have him install it the day BEFORE close of escrow even better. Because, if you just take a price reduction, you are going to be so busy moving and exited about your purchase of your mobile home. You’ll “forget” about the bracing and end up buying new furniture instead!

Ideally, you should hire a health and safety inspector who KNOWS how to inspect a mobile home

8. Once you are park-approved, it is time to schedule your health & safety inspection. You are free to use any licensed health & safety inspector for your inspection or I can recommend several to you. Besides the health & safety inspection , I would strongly recommend you have an electrician look over the home. Sometimes, a regular h&s inspector can not really know what’s going on. These inspections are not free and depending on who it is, they all charge slightly different. When we go to see the inspectors at your future home, please bring your check bock. Once the inspection is over, the inspector will go over his findings with you.

9. It is now 24-48 hours after that the health & safety inspection took place and now we are holding the report in our hands, going through it together. It is the sellers responsibility to cover any health & safety issues, such as electrical, plumbing, roof, smoke alarms, double-strapped water heater and so on. Anything cosmetic is just that, cosmetic and the seller does not have to do anything. However, you could always try to negotiate if you strongly feel there is something you want the seller to do and of course, I am there for you, every step of the way.

10. Termites? Pesky little critters and they are usually EVERYWHERE! We would absolutely want to have the home inspected for that too. We will get a written report with a diagram, showing their findings. Anything that they find that is classified as a SECTION I, has to be taken care of and hopefully, the seller is willing to do that. If not, it’s on you. I have a very strong opinion in regards to termites. That is, if I were buying a home, why should I have to pay for somebody else termite problem? I never lived there. I did not invite them. So, why pay? On the other hand, if I got the home at a very good deal, I would probably pay for it. It is your decision and hopefully we will not run in to this problem if the seller gladly pays. SECTION 2 are recommendations from the termite inspector of things that will need attention in the future and are not items that has to be taken care of now. Termite inspections are paid through escrow.

11. Time to order your appraisal. An appraisal will be necessary if you are going to finance your purchase, the lender will require it. This is an expense that can not be financed and you will have to pay it upfront either by meeting the appraiser at your future home or by simply writing the check to the appraiser and let me handle it for you.

12. Your loan conditions. When you first got pre-approved, we submitted certain papers to the lender. There might also be additional paperwork they are asking for and whatever that is, now is the time for us to do that.

13. Your home has now been appraised and hopefully, it did appraise. If not, we might need to either re-negotiate with the seller or you might have to come up with a larger down payment, whatever is the case or we might have to look for another home for you.

14. Your loan documents are now ready to be signed and there will also be additional paperwork from escrow to sign, such as hazardous disclosures. We live in earthquake country, there are massive rains sometimes and we get flooded. You might be close to a prison or maybe an airport. These things are hazardous, we all live with them. Escrow wants you to know this,and you already do. When you go to sign all this papers, please bring your cashiers check for the balance of the down payment. Before you do, I will give you an estimated closing statement so that you know how much to bring. There will be an overage, meaning escrow will ask for a little bit more, just in case. We do not want to delay closing escrow because they are a few dollars short (maybe they needed to over-night a package twice).

15. Time for us to do a final inspection of the home. We want to make sure that everything that needed to be taken care of, has been done. We will do a final walk-through together.

16. You are now going to go to your appointment with the park to sign your lease, read and sign the park rules & regulations and pay your space rent and deposit. This takes about 1 ½ hour. If this is in the middle of the month, escrow will pro-rate the space rent. Parks do not take partial payment, only full. The deposit is refundable after paying your space rent on time for 12 consecutive months. You can then, in writing, ask for it back.

17. The loan has now funded, the money has been received by escrow, every single piece of paper has been signed by all parties involved and escrow is now closed. CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE NOW A HOME OWNER.

18. I will give you your final closing statement from escrow and possibly a check too, together with the keys to the home, TIME TO START MOVING IN!

Again, congratulations. Let me know when the movers are coming, I want to order you some take-out and something to drink, you are going to be too busy and besides, who has time to cook while moving.

A Home Buyer’s Caveat: KNOW What You Want!

There are a number of reasons, individuals begin to search for a home, of their own, or a new home. While some, are focused on their needs, goals, and priorities, others become absorbed by the concepts of the so – called, American Dream, of owning a home, of your own! Smart home buyers must be ready, and prepared, to proceed, with their eyes – wide – open, so they clearly, KNOW, what they seek, and what they might afford, as well as what will serve their needs, both today, and into the future. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why it matters.

1. Knowledge; keep it; kitchen: How will you decide, if a particular house, is best for you, and your true needs? Will you take the time, and make the effort, to learn, as much as possible, about the options and alternatives, as well as relevant aspects, and use your knowledge, to make you, a smarter, better prepared consumer? Are you considering, using this house, as a starter home, or will you keep it, into the foreseeable future? Why do you believe you will be happy, and well – served, living there?

2. Needs; nuances; niche; necessities: How will you determine your needs, goals, priorities, etc? How will a particular house, make you happier, and satisfy your need? Are there, specific nuances, which you believe, are most essential, to being happy, in your home? Would you identify, with some specific niche, and why? If you considered things carefully, can you differentiate between necessities/ priorities, and your personal, wish list?

3. Objectives; options; organized; optimize: Begin your house hunting, process, by clearing understanding and knowing your personal objectives! What specific options, are most important, for your present, and anticipated future, life style? Is the specific house, capable of being organized, to address your priorities, and is it possible to optimize your living experiences?

4. When; why; where; what; wonderful: When do you want to move in, and when do you need to? Why are you looking for a home, and this specific one? Is it located, where you will be best – served? What is needed, and necessary, to make your living experience, more wonderful?

Before you commit to buying, the best home, for you, KNOW what you need to know, and be prepared, as well as what, you seek, to be happy there! Will you commit to the process?

Micro Joint Ventures – The Best Way To Buy A Brand New Home

Micro Joint Ventures (or “Micro JVs”) are when a small group of like-minded buyers pool their resources to benefit from the “grouped” buying power. In the context of buying a brand new property, the group would partake in a small property development project. The aim would be for each micro joint venture partner to come out ahead. The project feasibility can be calculated from the start even before agreeing to proceed with the deal, and under the guidance of a property buyers advocate, the group’s risk could be reduced significantly.

Ideally, if you have family or friends willing to form a micro joint venture with you, then you could venture down this path of buying property wholesale with them. However, if you don’t have family or friends in a position to join you in this journey, there are now buyer-matching resources that could match you with other qualified buyers who are looking for something similar to what you want.

The key with micro joint ventures is that each member of the group needs to bring an equal amount of resources to the table and can complete the deal. That’s why before micro joint ventures start their property search, they should get finance qualified by a mortgage broker as a micro joint venture group to buy the land, and as individuals to construct after subdividing.

Being part of Micro Joint Ventures is similar to buying any other new property, except:

  • you get to be in an “infill” location that’s closer to amenities that you love without settling for an apartment
  • you get to customize your building design to suit your needs
  • you’d have access to potentially lucrative profits from property development by building from the ground up.

You’ll still have to qualify for finance as if you’re buying a new home. So, you will need a deposit and earn an income (or you could pay with cash). A mortgage broker needs to assess your situation and highlight your options before you can join any micro joint ventures.

  • There may be some excellent home loan rates if you can come up with 20% deposit (plus purchase costs).
  • However, there are also options needing only 10% deposit (plus purchase costs).
  • Furthermore, if you’re buying your own home, there may be specialist lenders such as “Keystart” in Australia, who offer deposit requirements of as low as 2%!

Speaking to an expert and accredited finance and mortgage broker will quickly reveal all your lending options very quickly.

Financial benefits of buying brand new:

  • First home buyers would still qualify for any government grants and/or duties concession for buying new;
  • Duties are only payable on the land, not on the building. This works out much less than duties on an established house;
  • Rents for brand new dwellings are generally higher than older houses;
  • Full depreciation benefits are available for investors, compared to reduced/removed benefits with established investment properties.

Coupling these financial benefits of buying a brand new home with the additional equity that’s manufactured from developing the right property – you’ll find yourself ahead of the pack by getting involved in a properly qualified, and well-orchestrated micro joint venture.

Bankruptcies and Buying a Home

A lot has been written about filing for bankruptcy. It’s not the first choice most people might make, but when there is no other choice you might have to consider this option. The question I hope to answer in this article is if it is possible after filing to obtain a home mortgage loan.

You can obtain a mortgage loan, but there is one important thing to remember. Most attorneys do not tell people when filing bankruptcy is YOU CANNOT HAVE ANY LATE PAYMENTS AFTERWARDS if you are trying to obtain home financing. This is a hard, cold fact. Most attorneys simply take your money and do the filing. They literally have turned filings into a high volume business.

If you doubt this simply open the Yellow Pages in your respective town or city and see how many ads scream out ” Bankruptcies Filed For As Little As $300!”. These lawyers simply don’t have the time to get personal because of the competitive nature of this particular legal arena. Now before some attorney out there reads this and gets excited let me state that there are still those lawyers who will take your case and give you all the counseling time you desire. Of course everything comes with a price. You decide what’s right for you.

Let’s assume you’ve filed and the bankruptcy has been approved. Fast forward a couple of years. You’ve recovered from whatever circumstance that caused you to file. You’ve managed to save quite a bit of money and feel ready to apply for a mortgage loan. Will a company take the risk on you? The chances are that you can get approved, but may have to live with a higher interest in the beginning of the loan. An interesting thing I’ve learned is that it’s easier to get a home loan than a car loan after a bankruptcy. The reason for this is you cannot get in your home and take off for parts unknown. The bank knows it can at worst foreclose on your home and recover it’s loses.

One bright side of this sad subject is the fact that after a couple of years your credit should have drastically improved to the point where you can refinance the original loan at a much lower interest rate.