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Author Archives: Christa Ross

About Christa Ross

I am a Pittsburgh area real estate agent with RE/MAX Select Realty. My office is in Shadyside and I work all around the Pittsburgh area with a focus on the East End of the city, East Suburbs and North. I am a marketing specialist with experience in green and energy efficient home, city homes and community development sales.

Tax Tips For Homeowners

Tax time is right around the corner (ugh!) and if you are a homeowner there are some tax benefits you should be taking advantage of. Check out the selection of tax tips put together by the people at HouseLogic to help you though this process. If you are a new homeowner, pull out the HUD or ALTA statement you were given at closing and be sure to use it when preparing your taxes or give it to your accountant.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2017 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

New Year, New East End Office for RE/MAX Select Realty

remaxoffice_insideWelcome to 2017 and to our new office, introducing RE/MAX Select Realty’s new East End Office. Previously located in Shadyside, our office is growing and is now located in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, right on Penn Avenue.

We are happy to be in our new digs at 5817 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 and excited to have more space, more agents and a bright future in the city. This office will serve the city neighborhoods of East Liberty, Highland Park, Shadyside, Lawrenceville, Friendship, Morningside, Squirrel Hill, Oakland as well as the Northside, Southside and other nearby city areas. Be sure to stop by if you are in the area and be sure to give us a call if you are planning to buy or sell real estate in the city of Pittsburgh.

Search for your next home on selecthomefinder.com

Open House September 11

Open House this Sunday, September 11 from noon to 4 p.m.! Newly restored, this amazing 7,000-square-foot home is set on seven acres, complete with fields, trails, a tree house, and rope swing, and was designed to bring the outdoors in.Read More…

 

Popular Low Down Payment Options

Saving for a down payment can be hard – especially for first-time homebuyers. Contrary to popular belief, there are alternatives to putting less than 20% down on a home. Plenty of home loan options exist with as little as 3% down. This infographic highlights a few key pieces of information to consider when considering loan options with a low down payment.

Low Down Payment Options For Buying A Home

RE/MAX National Housing Report – August

Published on Aug 25, 2016

Unlike the month’s temperatures, July home sales cooled off from June’s highest year-to-date level. In the RE/MAX National Housing Report analysis of 53 U.S. cities, July sales fell in 49 markets by 8.8% from July 2015 and by 13.1% from June. Over the last seven years, the average drop in sales from June to July has been 8.2%. The Median Sales Price dropped slightly from June to $225,000, which is still 4.7% higher than one year ago. At the same time, inventory continued to tighten by dropping 3.0% lower than June and 16.6% lower than a year ago, resulting in a Months Supply of just 3.5. Five metro areas reported an inventory supply of less than two months. Meanwhile, the average Days on Market dropped to 53 which is just one day less than the average in June and four days below last year.

August National Housing Report Infographic

Seller’s Disclosure – Don’t Hide Problems

One of the documents you will be given as a seller is the Seller’s Disclosure. This is a 6 page (in PA) document where you will be asked to fill out listing everything you know about your home.

For many sellers, their inclination is to only present their home in the best light, and while this can be tempting, the seller disclosure should not be looked at as a sales tool, because in reality is is a liability reduction tool. By revealing up-front everything you know about the home, honestly and to the best of your knowledge, you are preventing the six most dreaded words… “I was never told about that”.

These are six words usually uttered by the buyer after their inspection or worse, after their closing, when something has gone wrong in the home. The fact is, homes break, even well built, well maintained homes. But when things breaks many buyers will go running back to the disclosure to see if they were really told about the issue they are now faced with.

Of course there is no such thing as a perfect house, and it is a great idea to get a home ready for sale by sprucing it up, painting it and making repairs. Just be sure that the repairs are being disclosed, and they are not intended to be a band-aid just to get past the sale. Past problems will come back to haunt everyone if they are not correctly addressed, and the worst thing is for a buyer to find out that something was hidden away.

Speaking of which, the buyer will always find out. They will come across the contractor who had previously been at the home or they will bring the conversation up to the neighbor who will recite the entire history of your home.

So when faced with the seller disclosure, consider it as your opportunity to reveal what you know about your home, warts and all, and feel free to add additional details of how you corrected problems or even provide documentation. You will be protecting yourself and helping the buyer make a good decision as they search for the home of their dreams.

Changes Are Coming To Settlement

If you are a buyer that is planning to purchase this summer or a seller that will be closing on a home after August 1st you should be aware that new government regulations will be making changes to the closing process that may effect when you finally close on the home.

The largest changes will be related to the final accounting of costs at closing. When a buyer applies for a loan they will now be given a Loan Estimate detailing all their costs to purchase. They must get this within 3 days of making a loan application, and if there are any of a number of changes during the mortgage process it must be resubmitted to the buyer. The buyer must have 3 days to look this over before any of the next steps towards closing can be taken.

Then no less than 3 business days before closing the lender must issue a Closing Disclosure. This takes the place of the document formally known as a HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and it looks pretty similar. The important point is that the buyer must have it no less than 3 days prior to closing and it can no change substantially from the loan estimate they were given.

This may sound complicated, but here is the thing that buyers and sellers need to know, right now it is common practice for the HUD-1 Settlement Statement to show up just a day or even an hour before closing. The new rules mean that if the lender doesn’t get the Closing Disclosure to the buyer 3 business days before closing there will not be a closing! It doesn’t matter if the truck is packed, the lease is expiring, the kids have to start the first day of school… there will not be a closing. It means that if the closing disclosure shows up on Thursday, the first day to close will be Monday (remember this is business days, Sundays and Holidays don’t count).

While it is good that both buyer and seller have more time to know what their costs and charges are, there will no longer be the last minute, slide in sideways closing that unfortunately seem all too common as last minute appraisal, walkthrough and lender items are checked off the list.

If you apply August 1st your loan will apply under the new rules. And the new rules mean even bigger changes for the banks, lenders and settlement companies that will go unseen to buyers and sellers.

How do you avoid these problems and delayed closings? Ask your agent. Truth is that while we may not say it loudly, we do know what lenders close smoothly and on-time, we know what settlement companies do and don’t have their act together and we do secretly sigh when our buyer’s come up with pre-approval letters from lenders that we know don’t have it together, and settlement companies that aren’t getting ready. Lenders and settlement companies that were just squeaking by under the current rules are going to cause big delays on closings if they aren’t ready for what is coming August 1st.

Should You Ask For A Seller’s Assist?

Is it a good idea or a bad idea to ask for a seller’s assist when making an offer on a home?

The best way to look at a seller’s assist is that it is real money to the seller. For example an offer of $370,000 with a 3% sellers assist ($11,100) is just about the same thing to the seller as an offer of $358,900 without a sellers assist, because in both cases the final net amount they receive in their check at closing is $358,900 (minus their closing costs).

Reasons for asking for a seller’s assist…

You will bring less money to closing, for example if you were going to have to bring a check for down payment and closing costs for $20,000 and instead you get a seller’s assist of $10,000, then you will only need to bring a check for $10,000 to closing – so you can spend the extra money to make repairs or improvements to the home, buy furniture or other things you want for the house, or just not spend it at all and have extra money left in your savings account.

Reasons for NOT asking for a seller’s assist…

Usually the actual price you pay will be higher since the seller is just looking at a seller’s assist as a reduction in the check they get at closing. So if they would accept $360,000 without a sellers assist, they probably would want at least $370,000 with the sellers assist.
Since the purchase price is higher both the buyer and seller will pay a higher transfer tax since it is based on a percentage of the purchase price. Also the seller paid commission and the buyer paid title insurance are also percentage based of the sale price, so those go up too. (So the example at the top is not an exact match because some of the percent based costs do go up with a higher sale price)
If the county re-assesses your property for taxing purposes in the future they will see a higher price and could reassess your higher = higher property taxes in the future.
The property will have to appraise for the mortgage at the higher sale price that was negotiated to make room for the seller’s assist, because the mortgage lender is still going to be doing the loan based on the purchase price, not including the seller’s assist. This isn’t a problem if the appraisal comes in at value, but if it is low then the seller may want to remove the sellers assist or the buyer has to come up with extra cash to bridge the gap between sale price and appraised value, which completely negates the seller’s assist.

Bottom line, if you NEED the seller’s assist because you don’t have enough money to cover your down payment or closing costs, or if you really WANT it because you feel more comfortable with extra money in the bank, even if it will cost you a little extra in the long run, then you should ask for it.

But if it’s more of a nice to have, not a need to have, you might be better off not asking for it.