“Questions that buyers frequently ask.”
Q. How many homes should I plan to view and how should I make the final decision?
A. Generally you should view a number of homes so you can become familiar with what you can expect to get for your money. When you find a home you really like, it's a good idea to go back and look at it at a different time of day. This will give you greater insight into what it will be like living in the home full time.
Q. How can I check my credit rating before I apply for a mortgage?
A. Your credit rating is based on a combined score generated from three credit bureaus that look at your credit history, amount of credit available, and recent inquiries to determine what's called your FICO score. A smart way to go is to have your Weichert Gold Services Manager check your rating for you and, if appropriate, suggest ways for you to improve your credit. For a small fee, you can get your score or review your credit report by going online to www.myfico.com or contacting the credit bureaus directly at:
Q. Why should I consider paying points?
A. Buyers often choose to pay a one-time charge called mortgage “points” in exchange for a lower interest rate. Usually paid at closing, each “point” costs 1% of the mortgage amount, or $2,000 on a $200,000 loan. The lower rate reduces the monthly mortgage payment, and points paid in conjunction with the purchase of a home are generally tax-deductible in the year they’re paid (see tax advisor). Monthly savings will often exceed what was paid in points in just a few years’ time.
Q. What is the purpose of an attorney review?
A. In states where the real estate agent writes the contract, there may be an attorney review period. This specified period allows the attorney to cancel the contract or request it be altered. Both buyer and seller would then have to agree to the revised contract in writing. During this period, either party may void the contract without penalty.
Q. What is title insurance and why do I need it?
A. Basically, title insurance assures that you have clear title to the home you’re purchasing. A title search is the primary component of “due diligence,” a process that will be started either by your attorney, if you are using one, or by the title company you choose. The title search determines whether the seller actually owns the property and if there are any claims against it.
Q. What happens if the house I want to purchase does not appraise at the amount expected?
A. If the house doesn’t appraise at the amount expected, other alternatives are typically found. A second appraisal may be sought, the buyer may be willing to put more money down, the seller may adjust the price or offer other concessions, or the two sides may negotiate to split the difference between them.
“Questions that sellers frequently ask.”
Q. Why shouldn’t I price my house a little high, since I can always drop the price later?
A. That’s a strategy that sounds good – but, in fact, is more likely to result in a lower price. Here’s why. The first few weeks a house is on the market is when it will have the most activity. If a house is overpriced, it has to compete with houses at that higher price level, which are almost certainly larger or have newer/more luxurious features.
So the overpriced home is unlikely to attract an offer. Worse yet, those first weeks are when real estate agents preview the house. If it’s overpriced, they may not even bother to show it to their buyers. Eventually, the seller will have to drop the price – and may end up with an even lower price because buyers will wonder why the house has been on the market so long and may factor that into their offer.
Q. What is meant by the term “contingency” in a sales contract?
A. Sales contracts typically contain several “contingency” clauses, or stipulations that the sale is subject to. For example, with a mortgage contingency, if the buyer is unable to obtain financing within the specified time frame, neither the buyer nor the seller is required to complete the purchase. Among other common provisions in the “subject to” section are termite and other inspection issues and the purchaser’s need to sell a current home first.
Q. What is an escape clause?
A. An escape clause, also known as a kickout or knockout clause, is a provision that allows the party to void the contract. For example, the seller may retain the right to look for a more favorable offer, with the original purchaser retaining the right, if challenged, either to firm up the first sales contract (such as by waiving a contingency) or to void the contract. As another example, sellers might insist upon an escape clause in a contract that hinges on the buyers’ selling their home.