Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

How To Negotiate The Best Deal On A Home

When you have finally decided that it is time to move you may ask yourself, how do I get the best deal on a home? The short answer to that question is to keep focused on your plan and to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. Here are a handful of steps to take so that you can achieve that goal.

Mortgage Prequalification

Getting prequalified for a mortgage is the only way for you to know what you can afford but it is also how you prove to a seller that you are financially capable of the purchase. Once your lender has informed you of how much you can afford they will provide you with a letter stating this. Submit this along with your offer to immediately prove your level of interest and ability to the seller.

Create an Offer Strategy

Before you even begin crafting your offer, decide how much you are willing to pay for the home and then backtrack to arrive at your initial offer. Figuring things out this way will help you facilitate a proper negotiation where you aren’t low balling sellers where it can be offensive or perceived as not being serious while it can also help you not spend more than you originally intended. 

Limit Contingencies

Simply put the less complicated the offer the more enticing it will be to the sellers. Retain some of the most important things like your standard financing or home inspection contingencies, but put a limit on anything else unless it is an absolute deal breaker for you. 

Ask Questions

Information can be very valuable so asking questions can arm you with some good ammunition. Ask questions such as why the sellers are moving, did they already buy a home, are there other offers or have there been? Knowing things like this can help you understand the seller’s position better where you can devise an offer that is most attractive to their needs.

Do Not Get Emotional

Buying a new home is most always a very exciting time so it is important to keep things in check. At the end of the day the home purchase is a business transaction so treating it that way will help you save money. Stay on track with your initial plan of how much you wanted to spend. If it comes to a point where the sellers won’t budge further on price, ask for things in return like covering a portion of the closing costs or perhaps a few things like outdoor furniture. 

Don’t Become Affected by Competition

It can be easy to get caught up in the competition game and want to win when there are multiple offers. However, take a deep breath and revisit your overall plan of how much you are comfortable paying for the home and what you are willing to forego. You won’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy in the end as you made too much of a sacrifice in any one direction. 

 

4 Ways to Be the Winning Offer on a Home

The key to buying your Fort Lauderdale home is to be as prepared as possible. While current times may have buyers moving slightly slower than before by previewing homes online first, it can certainly happen that you submit your offer in tandem with another interested party. In the pursuit of being the winning offer, here are some ways you can position yourself best so that you don’t have to begin your search all over again.

Financing

A common reason for a deal to fall through is for buyer financing so make sure yours is as secure as possible. Anyone who is seriously considering buying should of course get pre-approved for financing, but make sure you have that letter to include with your offer to prove it to the sellers. Another way you can show your commitment is to increase your earnest money amount as a pledge to the sellers.

Homes That Need TLC

Homes that are generally priced right and don’t need any updating are among the most sought after. This also means there can be a lot of competition on them too. One way to an easier purchase is to consider those homes that may need some light updating. If the core things like layout, bed and bath count and location are solid, perhaps you could manage a kitchen or flooring update while you make the home truly your taste. 

Personal Letter

While money talks, a personal letter cannot hurt to accompany your offer. If a seller has competing offers with similar terms and dollar amounts, a personal letter of who you are and how you intend on enjoying the home just may be that extra push you need into the winning corner. 

Team

An experienced team to guide you through the process is key. From an experienced real estate agent to a reputable mortgage broker to an credible attorney, the professionals who you select can make your chances better of securing a home and successfully closing on it. These are the trusted individuals who can navigate through any potential snags with their expertise. 

Your 6 Things To Do Before Closing on a New Home

While the average home buying process is on average 30 to 45 days, it is crucial that you stay on track and accomplish the necessary steps during that time. Once you finally locate the right home and complete your negotiations, here are 6 steps to guide you through to closing.

Closing Date

Select a closing date that coincides with the sale of or lease end of your current home. It is also ideal to choose the last day of the month as you will pay the least amount of interest at the closing table and the math will work out nicely for all related accounts. 

Organize Funds

Make sure all of your money for the closing is ready and accessible on hand. You will receive documentation of what will be owed typically along with wiring instructions for how to pay it. Personal checks are not accepted but are good things to bring with you to the closing for any small incidentals that may arise. 

Title Insurance

All mortgages need an insurance policy for the dwelling the mortgage is being taken out on. This protects the lender in case the seller either didn’t fully own the home or if someone had a lien on the property. 

Homeowners Insurance

This is something you can shop around for and even play around with coverage numbers. In some cases you can even find a better deal with a company that bundles your home and auto policies together. In many locations here in South Florida, you will also potentially need a flood policy as well. 

Review the HUD

Your lender will provide you with a good faith estimate of what will be needed to pay for closing costs earlier on in the process which is very helpful for planning your money. Before you go to the closing compare these numbers with the HUD statement and inquire with your lender if anything looks like it has changed substantially. 

Walk-Through

Schedule your walk-through as the last thing you do right before the actual closing – either the morning of or night before. Things to check for include:

-No items left by sellers

-Any repairs that were promised are completed

-Test all electronics, doors and systems

-Check for any damage or missing items

Hopefully all will be as it should. In case it is not, you can either delay the closing or potentially hold a portion of the proceeds in escrow until the dispute is resolved.

 

Tips For Selling Your Home Virtually

The process of marketing homes has started online for quite some time, but now more than ever it is important to create the best virtual viewing process for anyone to research a property from the comfort and safety of their own home. Per a recent survey from Realtor.com, sellers who are thinking about placing their homes on the market for sale are willing to conduct showings under the right conditions. Open houses are something they are less comfortable with given the current social distancing concerns. 

Given this it is imperative to have a digital strategy to make your property marketing efforts as effective as they can be for all buyers. Here are some of the top things that prospective homebuyers considered to be most helpful:

  • Accurate and complete listing information
  • Multiple, high-quality photos of the property
  • Virtual tour of the home
  • Neighborhood information
  • Agent hosted video chat

Nate Johnson, CMO of Realtor.com states: “As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

These items that are referenced should give buyers enough tools to establish if the property fits their needs enough to schedule a visit in person. Should they be serious enough to do so, then the important precautions for viewings should be followed including limited in-person activity, washing of hands, removal of shoes and wearing masks and gloves. It is also strongly suggested that sellers should prepare by leaving all doors to rooms and closets open so that buyers won’t need to touch as many things. 

In the end things are changing rapidly and these strategies can certainly help with marketing your home efficiently and potentially foster a faster sale. We will monitor as time goes on how much of these tactics will remain here to stay. 

 

Top Questions About Closings

When buying a home there is one goal in the end, get to the closing. This is the grand finale of the process after searching, making an offer, inspecting and loan processing when you sign your documents, transfer funds and collect the keys. There are some common questions as to what means what at the closing so here is some information that can be helpful.

 

What does “closing” mean?

The closing is the time when you complete the home buying process and officially transfer ownership. The process begins when you sign a purchase and sale agreement and is usually a four to six week process. 

 

What is a closing disclosure?

The closing disclosure or “CD” is a form that outlines the final loan terms and costs. The lender must provide this to you three days before closing for you to review for accuracy. Should there be any misinformation, you must notify them immediately. 

 

When does the walk through take place?

Most contracts are drafted to allow the buyer to conduct the walk through within 24 hours of the settlement. It will depend on the size of the home, but give yourself about an hour to inspect the property. Here are some things to check:

 

-Faucets and toilets

-Appliances

-Doors (including garage if applicable)

-Fans, garbage disposal

-General condition of walls 

 

Who attends the closing?

The closing customarily happens at the office of the attorney, one of the agent’s offices, title company or even at the registry. Typically, it is attended by you, your agent, the seller, seller’s agent, real estate attorney and sometimes title company and loan officer.

 

How much are closing costs?

This will depend on your location and the price of the home. However, generally speaking 3 to 4% of the sales price is a general rule of thumb when purchasing. Your lender will give you a breakdown of the final number which include:

 

-Loan application fee

-Loan origination fee

-Appraisal fee

-Credit report

-Underwriting fee

-Title search 

-Property taxes

-Recording fee

 

What do you bring?

Ask your attorney to be 100% clear, but generally you should bring:

-Official photo ID (license, passport)

-Copy of the contract

-Homeowners insurance copy (and flood too if applicable)

-Bank check or wiring instructions for final payment

 

What is title insurance?

Every lender will require this. Essentially this protects the lender from any outstanding claims against the home. For example, if a previous owner did not pay all of their real estate taxes, there may be a lien on the property and therefore not a clean title. The title company will do a search of deeds, wills, trusts and public records to ensure that the buyer will become the rightful owner. 

 

Tips for Designing a Kitchen for Aging in Place

South Florida real estate is very conducive for retirement with many homes either being single floor living or featuring first floor masters. Just add the beautiful year-round weather and it makes for a perfect setting for many. For those who choose to outfit their home for “aging in place” longer term, here are some great tips that you can follow for modifications in your kitchen.

Pantry

Some pantry closets offer “pull out” shelving where you can easily view all that you have within. You can avoid having to stretch for those higher, hard to reach areas or crouch down for the low ones. This is also handy for retrieving your heavier items. 

Round edges

Avoid sharper angles for your countertops and shelves. This can help you avoid injuring yourself by accidentally banging into them.

Sink near stove

Simply put, as we get older heavier items are harder to carry. Having the sink near the stove makes a shorter distance for you to have to carry a heavy pot to and from. 

Shallow sink

A more shallow sink also makes for easier rinsing of vegetables and dishes as opposed to a deeper one.

Microwave height

It was common for years to have these built in over your stove. However, lifting heavier dishes into a high location can become challenging. Having your microwave located at more of a counter height or even just below it will make for easier access. 

Standard cabinetry

While ornate details, legs or panels can be visually stimulating, they can also make your kitchen become an obstacle course. Keeping things more simple will make maneuvering about much easier with less to bump into.

Accessible corner cabinets

Even when you are young and nimble, fishing through those corner cabinets or “lazy Susans” can be rough. The good news is that there are better options these days for corner cabinets – some with full drawers!

Drawers, not doors

Drawers are great options for your lower cabinets. These days you can get oversized drawers that can accommodate your larger pots and pans – just like a lower cabinet with doors would. Being able to have drawers to pull out will make your access far easier.

Clearance space

It is standard to have 36 inches for interior walkways or hallways. However, if you want to plan for enough space to accommodate a wheelchair, you will want to go with more than that. It is actually recommended that you push that to closer to 60 inches.

Slip resistant floors

The majority of kitchens have tile floors and especially here in South Florida so much of the homes are outfitted with it. Make sure you are selecting one that has some sort of slip resistance. Vinyl options these days have really come a long way and can be a good solution.