Tips on Buying a Foreclosure

November 21, 2009 by  
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It’s often the subject of the water cooler talk…the co-worker who just got a steal on a foreclosure. Now you may be in the market, having been looking at Roswell homes for sale.

Certainly, foreclosures are dominating the national and local housing market. Currently, there are 1.5 million such homes for sale, and more are expected to be available soon. That provides both opportunities and pitfalls for bargain hunters.

But before you jump into this with both feet, make sure you’ve taken the time to understand what it means to buy a foreclosure and make sure you’re represented by a local Realtor who can advise you throughout the process. Here are five tips to consider to successfully buy Roswell foreclosure home.

1. Contact your Realtor

This may seem simple, but local Realtors that are active in the market follow the Roswell home inventory closely and know when a great deal pops up. Their working knowledge of the local market provides you with a huge advantage.

2. Get pre-approved with your lender

With foreclosures, you’ll find being pre-approved is a two-step process. You’ll want to get pre-approved with your preferred lender prior to starting your home search. This sets the benchmark for what homes you can afford and what your monthly payment would approximate.

Second, when you’ve identified a Roswell foreclosure that you want to make an offer, you’ll generally need to get pre-approved with the bank’s preferred lender. You are not obligated to use them, but banks just want to make sure that you can truly qualify to purchase the home.

3. Like sharks to blood

Keep in mind that many banks have finely figured out that it makes a whole lot more sense to price their Roswell foreclosures at significant discounts to the market. This often results in a feeding frenzy and a multiple offer situation. Don’t get caught up in the feedding frenzy.

Just offer what you would be happy paying for the home and if you get it, you get it. Realize that if you don’t get it, there will be more opportunities in the coming months.

4. Inspect, inspect, inspect

Be prepared to hire a professional inspector once you have a Roswell foreclosure home under contract. Keep in mind that while foreclosures are listed “as-is”, it does not preclude you from being able to have a due diligence period to inspect the property.

By “as-is”, the bank is merely stating that they don’t know anything about the property and will not be fixing anything. Also, realize that you may be responsible for turning on the utilities. Foreclosures often do not have utilities turned on.

In 25% of cases, homebuyers do persuade lenders to fix some of the problems before the sale closes. Most of the time, banks would rather sell the house to the next available bidder — one who doesn’t ask the bank to pay for repairs.

5. Be patient

While banks do respond fairly quickly on an offer, it’s definitely not the same as buying a regular home. Keep in mind that some banks may have a holding period, say 10 days, when initially listed before they will respond to offers.

Each property may have different peculiarities, but just realize that being patient and flexible will go a long ways towards getting a great deal on a Roswell foreclosure.

Contact us today to learn more about the opportunities of buying a Roswell foreclosure.

Tips for Winterizing Your Home

October 14, 2009 by  
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Now is a good time to start preparing your home for the winter months.  As temperatures begin to drop, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter.

Below are ten tips to help you prepare your home for the winter:

  1. Furnace Inspection – Call an HVAC professional to inspect your furnace and clean air ducts.  Be sure that no flammable material is nearby the furnace.  Stock up on furnace filters and change them monthly.  Do what I’ve done and switch out your thermostat for a programmable thermostat.  This is an easy task to do and it will help save you on your utility bills.
  2. Get your Fireplace Ready – If your chimney has not been cleaned for a while, call a chimney sweep to remove soot and creosote.  Get a supply of firewood and store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  3. Check the Exterior of your Home – Inspect the exterior of your home for cracks and exposed entry points around pipes; seal them.  Use weatherstripping around doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and caulk around windows.  If your home has a basement, consider covering window wells with plastic shields.  Switch out summer screens with glass replacements…if you have storm windows, install them.
  4. Inspect Roof, Gutters & Downspouts – Check flashing to ensure that water cannot enter your home.  Replace worn roof shingles or tiles.  Clean out your gutters and use a house to spray water down the downspouts to clear away any debris.
  5. Service Winter Specific Equipment – Drain gas from lawnmowers, replace worn rakes, store summer lawn furniture and gardening equipment, and buy a supply of ice-melt to keep on hand.
  6. Check Foundations – Rake away all debris and edible vegetation from around your home’s foundation.  Seal up entry points to keep small animals from crawling under the house seeking warm shelter.  Tuckpoint or seal foundation cracks…mice can slip through the smallest of cracks.  Inspect sill plates for dry rot or pest infestation.
  7. Install Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Buy extra smoke detector batteries and change them when daylight saving ends.  Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and/or water heater.  Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they work properly.  Buy a fire extinguisher or replace an extinguisher older than 10 years.
  8. Prevent Plumbing Freezes – Locate your water main in the event you need to shut it off in case of an emergency.  Drain all garden hoses and store them.  Drain air conditioner pipes and, if your AC has a water shut-off valve, turn it off.  If you leave for vacation, leave the heat on, set to at least 55 degrees.
  9. Prepare Landscaping & Outdoor Surfaces – Trim tress if branches hang too close to the house or electrical wires.  Ask a gardener when your trees should be pruned to prevent winter injury.  Seal driveways, brick patios, wood decks.  Move sensitive potted plants indoors or to a sheltered area.
  10. Prepare an Emergency Kit – Purchase indoor candles and matches to use during a power shortage.  Find the phone numbers for your utility companies and store them near your house phone.  Buy a battery back-up to protect your computer and other sensitive electronic equipment.

What to Do About a Flooded Basement

September 23, 2009 by  
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If you are like many Atlantans and your basement is under water, you’ll need to clean it up immediately.  The faster the water flood is cleaned up, the less damage can occur.

The first step is to contact your insurance agency if you have flood insurance.

flooded basementYour next step is to “Think Safety.” This is a key to successful clean up your basement after a water flood has happened. Before you step foot inside your basement to clean, make sure the electricity to that area is turned off inside your house! If there’s still flood water standing in your basement, don’t walk in it!  If your breaker box is in the basement and not reachable, then call a licensed electrician before you begin before you set foot in your flooded basement. A licensed electrician can tell you if it’s safe to walk in the water. If it’s not, he can also repair the problem while he’s there.

Anytime you smell natural gas in or around your basement, especially after a water flood, contact your gas provider immediately!  If you know how to shut the gas off, then do so. Otherwise, open all the windows and doors of your house, evacuate the premises, and refrain from smoking, cooking, creating sparks or flames.

Now, once your basement is safe to walk in, it’s time to clean up after the water flood.  Use a pump or a Shop Vac™ to remove the flood water from your basement. Flood water that is several feet deep needs to be removed at a slow rate. Because, if the water is pumped out too fast, the action will create a low pressure on the inside of your basement. Thus, the pressure on the outside will be higher, and your basement walls can easily fall in.

Once the flood water is removed from your basement, open up the windows and doors, and set up several fans to help dry the basement out.  A dehumidifier is also suggested, however these seem to be sold out in and around the Atlanta area.

Continue your clean up by removing furniture, carpeting, rugs, etc. Then, use a scoop shovel to remove mud or debris that are left on the floor.

Some rugs and room-sized carpets can be saved by drying them out and cleaning them up. However, if the flood water in your basement contained sewage, or if they’re moldy, you’ll need to discard the rugs or carpets instead. After the floor coverings are dried and have been swept, you should use a commercial steam carpet cleaner and detergent to clean up any savable floor coverings. (Home carpet cleaners aren’t usually powerful enough to handle the task.)
Vacuum the basement floor to remove as much water as possible. Then, mop the bare floor with household bleach and hot water. You’ll also need to wash the walls as well, to kill germs and bacteria.

Electronic items that were submerged in the basement flood water, or even just got water on them, should be checked by a professional repairman before they are plugged in again.

Mix up a strong solution of household bleach and hot water in a bucket to clean up any personal items you wish to keep. Wipe them dry, then allow them to set out in the sunshine to help further sanitize and deodorize them.

Paper products such as books, magazines, and photos can’t usually be saved once they are damaged by flood water.  Any irreplaceable photos you’d like to save may possibly be repaired by a professional photo shop.

Best of luck to you and your household!

The Importance of First Time Homebuyers

September 15, 2009 by  
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The recovery of the real estate market depends on first time home buyers.  Not only do they represent a large number of sales, but without them there would be no move-up market.  Current homeowners would not be able to move-up if they can’t sell their current homes.

first time home buyerHUD now says that first time homebuyers who qualify for the federal tax credit can apply as much as $8,000 to the down payment when financing a home with a FHA loan.  FHA currently requires that buyers make a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent of the sales price of the home…this means that a first time homebuyer can borrow as much as $228,500 and buy with no money down!

Four important things to keep in mind:

  1. You don’t qualify if you have owned a home during the three years before you plan to purchase.
  2. You must close before December 1, 2009
  3. Your income must not exceed $75,000 if single and $150,000 if married.
  4. You can’t use the credit against the down payment from just anyone, it must come from state housing agencies or certain non-profits.

If you are a first time homebuyer the time to act is now.  A closing by December 1st, 2009 means you ought to have a contract written by November 1st, and to write a contract you ought to begin looking for homes in September and October.  Even if you were to follow this schedule you may still be cutting it close.  ACT NOW and contact us!