Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18

Buyer Self-Representation

by The Jana Caudill Team

Can I represent myself when buying a Crown Point, Munster, or Chesterton home?  What most people who ask this question really mean to say is, “Won’t I save money (translated commission) by doing it myself instead of using a Realtor?”  The answer to the first question is, Yes.  You absolutely can, and you have every right to represent yourself when buying a home.  You can find homes for sale by owner in the newspaper, call to set up showing appointments for yourself, negotiate on your own behalf, etc.  You can hire the appraiser and an inspector.  If you’re going it alone you will probably at a minimum need to hire an attorney to draw up the contract to purchase, but beyond that you can do it all for yourself, drawing on your own life experience to help guide you through every decision until closing.

The answer to the second question, “Will I save money by doing it myself?” is NO.  As a homebuyer, doing it yourself, you will not save money by not using a Realtor, and you may in fact spend more.  There are many reasons for this, primarily including who pays commissions in a Real Estate transaction, and higher average sales prices for homes for sale by owner.

In a Real Estate transaction the seller generally pays all commissions, both to the listing agent representing the seller, and to the buyer agent representing the buyer.  If this is your first Real Estate purchase this may not make sense on the surface (click here for a lengthier discussion on agency).  However, all commissions are paid out at closing by the seller, NOT by the buyer.  The bottom line is the buyer does not pay commissions.  Just like at the car lot, the buyer does not come in and have to pay a commission to the sales person who sold them their brand new car.  That commission is paid by the dealer (seller).

In addition, homes listed for sale by owner tend to be advertised for a higher price than like homes listed with a Realtor.  This is because a Realtor will show sellers how much homes are going for in their market at that time by providing a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis), and will use that information to price their home competitively with other homes on the market.  And again, if you’re looking to purchase a home that is listed for sale through a Realtor you need to keep in mind two things.  First, the seller pays all Realtor commissions, and second, and just as importantly, that Realtor is professionally representing that seller only.  They will use all their skills to negotiate and secure the highest sales price possible for their sellers – treating the buyers fairly through the entire process – but representing the seller’s interests above all others.

So, the question, will you save money by representing yourself ?  No, you’ll probably end up paying more for the house you ultimately purchase, and since commissions are paid by the seller, AND the seller has professional representation with their Realtor shouldn’t you have professional representation too?

Winning the Debt Game

by The Jana Caudill Team

Debt, like most things, is okay in moderation.  Too much and an unpleasant conversation with a bankruptcy attorney might just be in your future.  Too little or none and you might be hampering your ability to get a college loan or a mortgage for your new Crown Point, Dyer, or Schererville home.

Here are a few debt tips with links where you can get more information:

  1. Cash cushion.  Have a little extra cash on hand, in the bank, under the mattress (no, not really under the mattress).  This is for emergencies, not for that little black dress or movie tickets.  Life happens.  Cars break down, water heaters break down – things break down.  Have some emergency cash available so your finances don’t go into a tail spin when the unexpected happens.
  2. Know your spending habits, then break bad habits.  Do you really know where your money is going?  Really?  Are you stopping by Starbucks once a week or is it really closer to every day of the week?  How often do you eat out?  What does the final tally on your Friday and Saturday nights look like?  Take a look at that monthly credit card bill.  You might be surprised.
  3. Pay down debt with highest interest rates first.  Makes sense.  Whatever money you have to pay down debt should go toward the credit card with the highest interest rate.  Once that is paid off, start paying extra on the next highest, and so on.  This is the best way to shrink those ugly credit card balances.  But remember, minimum payments are not your friend.  You’ll have to do more to get rid of that debt.
  4. Learn more.  Start at the CNN Personal Finance web page for great ideas on improving all aspects of your financial life.

The Family Home Budget

by The Jana Caudill Team

Are you saving for a down payment on a new Crown Point, Chesterton, or Valparaiso house?  A car, motorcycle, or Winnebago?  What about saving for college for your child?  Saving for college for your children?

Whether you want to move cross country, travel cross country, or ship your kid cross country to school you have to know how to save, and the first step in learning how to save is learning how you spend.  CNN Money has a great series on creating your own home budget, as well as other articles covering the subjects of making, saving, and investing your money.  Once you learn to track your spending and make some necessary spending cuts based on your saving goals, you will be well armed to start socking away for a rainy day…or a trip…or a home…or college…

Quick note: nowadays banks are requiring larger down payments when qualifying people for mortgages.  With today’s real estate market you can get more home for your money, you will just be required to have more of your own money to get the loan for your dream home.

Why a Good School District is Still a Priority for Empty Nesters

by The Jana Caudill Team

Invariably one of the top priorities of Northwest Indiana families with children looking to purchase a new home is landing somewhere within the boundaries of a good local school district.  Parents want the best for their kids, and that goes double for a quality education.  We all dream that one day our sons and daughters will get their college education, and the first step in attaining those goals is laying a strong foundation with quality private or public elementary, middle, and high schools.

But what if you are an empty nester or have never had children?  Why should school districts be a concern if you have no school-age, or soon to be school-age children in your household?  The answer is simple.  You may not have kids, but the people who will buy your home five, ten, fifteen years down the road very well may.

Translation: property values.  Homes in good school districts better maintain and increase in property value historically than homes that are not.  Foreclosures are even lower in quality school districts.  Certainly, many factors go into establishing property values.  But with all else being equal you can count on one thing.  A family with children – when it comes time to look for a new home – will make a good school system a top priority when beginning their search.  Neighborhoods with top notch schools will always be in demand, and will help attract more buyers to your Valparaiso, Crown Point, or St. John home when it’s time to sell.

Financial Planning and Your Home Purchase

by The Jana Caudill Team

Planning on buying a home over the next two, three, five years?  Take the time now to put a sound financial plan in place that will set you up for success when you’re ready to make your home purchase.

SAVE for your down payment.  The days of no money down home purchases are gone, at least for the foreseeable future.  And coming up with enough money to satisfy the bank who is considering issuing you a mortgage doesn’t happen overnight.  What would it be like if you took an extra twenty, forty, even a hundred dollars out of your monthly salary and socked it away toward your down payment?  Saving money is a long term endeavor so you need to start now.  A smart person (I fail now to remember who it was) once said, “You’ll know you’re doing a good job saving money when it starts to hurt a little.”

CUT expenses.  In order to increase your capacity to save money you either have to make more money or cut back on the money you spend.  The best way to go from no savings to a nice sized down payment on a home is to look at your budget and make little cuts here and there.  Ask yourself, where am I spending my income right now?  How much money can I save by making my own coffee and skipping that daily stop at Starbucks?  What about fast food?  Try cooking at home one or two more times a week.  Cook enough so you have plenty of leftovers to take to work the next day for lunch instead of opting to super-size the number 5 at the drive-thru.  Cutting expenses and saving go hand in hand.

MONITOR your credit scores.  You’ve cut back on your spending.  You have even found a way to stick another fifty dollars under the mattress every month for the down payment.  None of this does you any good if your credit scores are in the tank.  Keep a close eye on your scores!  Make your payments on time.  That 30-, 60-, 90-day late payment can stick around to haunt you for some time!  No bank will give you a mortgage if they see you are unable to handle the bills you already have.  Get your free annual credit report here.  This report will show you your scores from the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  Then when you’re ready to speak to a reputable Realtor your family finances will not hinder you when they help you find your dream home.

The Cost (And Benefit) of Home Ownership Today

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone generally knows one of the great benefits of homeownership is the mortgage interest write off come tax time every April.  The question is how does that benefit translate in real dollars?  Tough question.  The answer is, “It depends.”  Whether you saved a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars with the write off this past year there are many more factors involved for the home-renter considering becoming a home owner if you want a true picture of the bottom line benefit of homeownership.  Some of those factors already have dollar signs attached to them: current monthly rental payment, purchase price of home, mortgage interest rate, length of loan, etc.  There is a buying versus renting tool available here at the Ginnie Mae website to help you factor in all those numbers for a better picture of your specific situation.

Here’s a great article discussing those hard number factors as well as some of the more subjective dynamics like pride of ownership, dealing with landlords, long term plans, and the volatility of the real estate and mortgage markets.

Check our blog page for more informative personal finance articles, and happy house hunting!

Education and Preapproval, The First Step

by The Jana Caudill Team

Whether you’re a first time home buyer or you’ve been through the home buying process many times before, do yourself a favor.  Make speaking to a mortgage lender one of your first priorities when beginning your new house hunt.

Unless you have just come into a windfall of cash you’re probably like the rest of us and need to get a mortgage in order to move into that dream house.  There are many reasons for speaking to a mortgage lender or mortgage broker up front.  A professional who deals everyday in these types of loans will know what the current rates are.  They will take into consideration your credit scores, monthly income, available savings for a down payment, and best available interest rate based on all your information to come up with the loan amount you qualify for.

Please understand the primary benefit here: education.  This is a process not to be taken lightly.  The lender’s job is not to put you into the biggest house (and by association the biggest loan) possible.  Their job is to counsel.  Through the interview process they learn about your financial situation and determine your expected ability to repay the loan over the five, fifteen, and most common thirty year term.  The lender can also let you know whether there are some items on your credit reports that are getting in the way of your getting a better interest rate, or simply getting in the way of your qualifying for the loan altogether.

The mortgage market has changed over the last few years, and it has become more difficult to get that perfect loan.  Today you need more money for the down payment than you may have needed in the past, and guidelines for qualification are stricter than ever.  Speak to a mortgage professional you trust.  If you don’t have one, speak to friends, family and neighbors.  Ask who they have used in the past and what the experience was like.  Ask your friendly neighborhood Realtor® for a list of reputable candidates.  The last thing you want to happen is to find your dream home, write and have your offer accepted by the sellers, then discover you can’t get the mortgage to complete the purchase.  Get prequalified first, and house hunt with confidence.

Hiring a Dependable Moving Company

by The Jana Caudill Team

Cross country or cross town, sometimes it pays to hire a moving company to do the heavy lifting.  Did you know moving companies often offer more services than just hauling your belongings to your new home?  Many have packing and unpacking services.  I’ve even seen some offer a house cleaning service to give the home you’re moving into a good once over before you arrive.  It’s important not only to know what options you have available to help make your move run smoother, but also to know exactly what you are getting for your money when hiring a mover.

Tips on hiring a moving company:

  1. Get an in-house quote, then another, and another…A quote is no good if a company’s representative doesn’t come out and take an honest look at each room’s contents and then follow their visit up by putting their price, and what you are actually getting for your money in writing.  And the first quote isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if you don’t have a second and a third to compare it too.  Get three quotes.
  2. Ask friends, neighbors, and family who they have used in the past and had success with.  Get the actual name of the company rep they worked with.  A good referral goes a long way in easing stress during a move.
  3. Dig into the quote.  Know if the movers will be assembling furniture like bed frames after delivery.  What’s the delivery window look like?  What about insurance?  You have to know what you’re getting for your money, and you sure don’t want to have any surprises on moving day, or when the bill from the moving company comes in the mail.

Follow these links to our helpful buyer and seller resource pages.

Displaying blog entries 11-18 of 18