Saturday, May 26, 2012

Before You Buy an Evanston Short Sale

Buyers pursue Evanston shortsales to get a good deal. So when you see a price listed for a home that you think is too low for the neighborhood, before you jump on that price like hot fudge on a sundae, ask your Thomas Team agent to call the listing agent to find out if the home is a short sale.
Because you might want to think twice about making an offer on a pre-foreclosure, short sale home. It's not as simple as you may believe, and very few can close in 30 days or less.
Many of our Evanston home buyers have waited 4 to 6 months to close on a short sale, sometimes longer.

What is a Short Sale?
A short sale means the seller's lender is accepting a discounted payoff to release an existing mortgage. Just because a property is listed with short sale terms does not mean the lender will accept your offer, even if the seller accepts it. 

Be aware that the seller need not be in default -- to have stopped making mortgage payments -- before a lender will consider a short sale. A lender may consider a short sale if the seller is current but the value has fallen. The seller may have over-encumbered, owe more than the home is worth, so a discounted price might bring the price in line with market value, not below it.

Check the Public Records
Do your research before making an offer to purchase. Your Thomas Team agent can find out who is in title, whether a foreclosure notice has been filed and how much is owed to the lender(s). This is important because it will help you to determine how much to offer.

If there are two loans, you could have a problem. The first mortgage lender's position is protected by the second lender, unless the second lender does not want to foreclose. If a seller owes $160,000 on the first and $40,000 on the second, offering $160,000 leaves nothing for the second. The first will need to give something to the second to gain its cooperation.

Hire an Evanston Real Estate Agent with Short Sale Experience
It's one strike against you if the listing agent has never handled a short sale, but it's even worse if the agent has no experience in that arena. You need an experienced short sale agent, that’s where the Thomas Team can help you.

The Thomas Team agents have experience in short sales and can help to expedite your transaction and protect your interests. You don't want to miss any important detail due to inexperience or find out your transaction is not going to close on time because no one has followed up in a timely manner.

Qualifying the Property and Seller for a Short Sale
A lender is unlikely to agree to a short sale unless the seller has no equity and is unable to repay the difference between your sales price and the existing loans. Sellers need to provide a hardship letter to the lender. Sellers may also owe taxes on the amount of debt that is forgiven.

A seller we know once demanded that the buyer slip the seller $1,000 to be given the right to purchase the seller's property. We said no. This is fraud. The lender legally pursued that seller. Do not be lured by sellers who suggest this practice. In a short sale, the seller receives no money because the lender is losing money.

Submit Documentation and Purchase Offer to Lender
Once the seller has accepted your offer, it gets sent to the lender for approval. You do not have a deal until the lender accepts. Also, send the lender a copy of your earnest money deposit. Do not be astonished if the lender asks you to increase it. 

In addition, the lender will want to see that you have your own loan available and you are pre-approved. Send a pre-approval letter to the lender. It will help if your real estate agent sends a list of comparable sales that support the price you are offering to pay for the home.

Give the Short Sale Lender Time to Respond
You and your real estate agent should make your offer contingent upon the lender's acceptance. Give the lender a time frame in which to respond, after which, you will be free to cancel. 

Some lenders submit short sales to committee, but most can make a decision within two to three months. Get a name and phone number for the appropriate contact at the lender. The Thomas Team won’t send an offer blindly to a department.

Reserve the Right to Conduct Inspections
Generally, the lender will not pay for customary items that a seller would pay. These include home protection plans for the buyer, buyer credits of any kind and pest / termite inspections. A buyer will be asked to purchase the property "as is," which means no repairs.  It is extremely important that a buyer obtain a home inspection. The Thomas Team can help with this.

If you have any questions about buying an Evanston short sale, please let us know.  We're here to help in any way we can and would enjoy the opportunity to help you make Evanston your new home.
We look forward to hearing from you.

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage

Friday, May 18, 2012

Before You Buy Your First Evanston Home - Tips for a First-time Home Buyer

It's not uncommon for a first-timehome buyer to say to me, "Gosh, just last week I called you about buying an Evanston home and now I'm in escrow! How did this happen so fast?"
The answer is it didn't. First-time home buyers start the search long before most even realize it.
Here's what you can expect from your home shopping experience.

Benefits for a First-Time Home Buyer
You should buy an Evanston home. That's what you've been hearing from friends and family, right? So, by now you have likely already weighed the benefits and decided that Evanston home ownership was the best decision for you. That's a major hurdle now passed. You are focused and certain. Good.

Defining Search Parameters for a First-Time Evanston Home Buyer
Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. You've probably defined your goals and have a pretty good idea of the type of home and neighborhood you want. By the time you reach The Thomas Team realestate agent's office, you are halfway to home ownership.

How Long Should It Take to Buy Your Evanston First Home?
In sellers’ markets, often we show only one home. After all, how many homes does one family need?  A few buyers will look for years, but buyers who do that aren't motivated. A motivated buyer will find a home within two weeks. Most of our buyers find a home within two days.

Good Evanston real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. Your ThomasTeam agent should preview homes before showing them to you as well.

How Many Homes Will a Home Buyer See?
Studies show that your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. So, lay off the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out to tour homes. The average number of homes that we at the ThomasTeam show to a buyer in one day is five. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload. Therefore, don't expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it's physically possible to do so, you probably will not remember specific details about any of them.

The "Red Shoes" Experience for an Evanston Home Buyer
Women will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for an Evanston home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.

How a First-Time Home Buyer Can Rate Inventory
·   Bring a digital camera and begin each series of photos with a close-up of the house number to identify where each group of home photos start and end.
·   Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements.
·   Pay attention to the home's surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
·   Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
·   Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

View Top Choices a Second Time Before Buying That First Home
After touring homes for a few days, you will probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask the Thomas Team to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-around.

At this point, your Thomas Team agent will call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers' motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn't come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.

Making the Selection To Buy an Evanston Home
I'll let you in on a little secret. We generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents operate the same way. It's an intuition. But we at the ThomasTeam make it a practice not to steer buyers, and we insist that buyers choose the home without interference from us. It's not our choice to make.

Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer's search parameters. 

If you have any questions about buying your first Evanston Home,  please let us know.  We’re here to help in any way we can and would enjoy the opportunity to help you make Evanston your new home!
We look forward to hearing from you!

The Thomas Team
Chicago's #1 Real Estate Brokerage