Why Use a Real Estate Attorney?

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A real estate attorney is helpful for a lot of reasons. If you are uncertain about the home buying process, you can talk to an attorney to help you. An attorney will help you understand the paperwork and payments involved in buying a home in a practical way that even your agent may not be able to. If you’re unsure if you will need an attorney to help you, here’s information on real estate attorneys and what they do.

Real Estate Attorney

What Does a Real Estate Attorney Do?

A real estate attorney is an optional attorney, hired by you (the homebuyer) to provide legal opinion and professional advice on your closing documents. If you have bought a home before, you may feel comfortable in not using a lawyer to finalize the process with you. However, if you have never bought a home before, you may want to utilize the knowledge and understanding a lawyer has when it comes to buying your first home.

Attorneys often work with commercial buyers and sellers. Since these purchases are so large and require lots of attention to detail and laws to be followed, lawyers are necessary for these types of sales.

Real Estate Attorney

Why Use an Attorney?

You should use a real estate attorney if you have never bought a home before. It is helpful to use an attorney to guide you through understanding the closing documents. If you do not want to sign anything you don’t understand, a lawyer will explain what exactly the closing documents say in laymen’s terms. Attorneys are great because not only will the help you understand the documents, but they will know where to look to find any potential problems in the documents.

Who Needs a Real Estate Attorney?

A real estate attorney is not a mandatory service needed to buy a home. You can hire an attorney if you are buying a home, and you want the safe feeling of having a professional look over your closing documents with you to make sure everything is in order so you get exactly what you’re paying for.

Even if you’ve read and understood lots of legal documents in the past, you might still want to hire a lawyer to help you with the closing process. Commercial real estate purchases often require a real estate attorney on both sides to ensure the buyer and seller are both getting what they want from the purchase.

Junk Fees

Junk fees are fees that you do not have to pay, or fees that can be reduced, that come with the closing costs. A Good Faith Estimate will be given to you by the agent to show you all of the costs that come with buying a home and fees from their brokerage. With this estimate, you will find many fees that are unnecessary or overpriced. With a real estate attorney, you can have them look over the estimate, and they will get you the lowest price possible to pay for any fees and also get rid of any junk fees that are completely unnecessary.

What Can Happen Without an Attorney?

Lots of things can happen without a real estate attorney. You will not have anyone to look over the closing documents with you to ensure your best interests are being held to the highest standard and not just what the seller wants. Legal issues can also ensue without an attorney. You can be sued by the opposing party if you fail to disclose any information or problems about the property. Filing state or county level documents improperly can result in time wasted and more monetary complications. These fees and complications can all be avoided by hiring a real estate attorney in the first place.

How to Find a Real Estate Attorney

There are lots of companies that you can use to set you up with a real estate attorney. Real estate attorneys can be found online and hired for a reasonable price depending on how much and how long you need their services for. They are here to help you and all of your legal home-buying needs.

Real Estate Attorney

So do yourself a favor, hire an attorney if you need one. If you do, you will see how much they can help you with buying your next home.

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Which Loan is Right for Your Home? [Infographic]

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Here are the most popular mortgage options in the United States. See basic qualification information and down payments for these home loan options to see which is best suited for you and your next home.

Home-Loan-Options

Conventional

This is the most common mortgage option and usually has the best interest rates.

Down Payment: 10% minimum, 20% standard

Best For: repeat buyers

FHA

Makes ownership more affordable with less down and easier credit requirements.

Down Payment: 3.5% minimum, 20% standard

Best For: first-time buyers

VA

Takes away the need for a down payment without the risk of PMI. Only available to veterans.

Down Payment: no down payment

Best For: military veterans

USDA

This mortgage option was developed to promote the purchase of rural land.

Down Payment:  no down payment

Best For: investors; anyone interested in living in a rural atmosphere

ARM

These rates start out lower than any other option, but fluctuate with the market (and usually not for the better).

Down Payment: 10% minimum, 20% standard

Best For: anyone interested

Source: Fearless Home Buyer

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Why You Should Keep Your Home Phone

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With cell phones always in our pockets or purses, who needs a home phone anymore? Is there any good reason to have a landline in this day and age? Does such an out-dated piece of technology still have any uses? In short, yes it does.

Home Phone

There are lots of uses for a home phone. No, they are not like smartphones, but they have plenty of practical uses. Obviously you can call people on your home phone; that’s what a phone was invented to do.

Home Phone Benefits to Homeowners:

You need a landline for many burglar alarm systems to have a way to notify the police or fire department.

If you have a corded home phone, it will still work during a power outage thanks to the power company. However, a cordless home phone will not.

If you have small children, you can teach them to use the speed dial buttons on your home phone in case of emergencies.

Home Phone

You can screen your calls with a home phone. This is useful if a number is calling you that you do not recognize with emergency information about a friend or family member.

Miscellaneous Home Phone Benefits

Most television and internet companies need you to have a landline to set up their services.

Home phones tend to have much better reception than cell phones. Also, if a home phone breaks, it is much cheaper to replace than a cell phone.

Home Phone

 

If you lose or misplace your cell phone, you will have a home phone as back up until you can find or replace your cell phone.

Many phone companies offer inexpensive services for international calls. This is great if you have family in another country.

Even things like applying for a home loan, buying a car, or getting a bank account are a lot easier and quicker for the companies to verify your address and information with a home phone.

Emergency Calls

Home phones are best for in-home emergencies. If you call 911 from a cell phone, they will have to ask what address you’re at or where you are even if you’re at home. This takes valuable time, and if the emergency causes you duress, you may not have time to recite off your address. If you have a home phone, the 911 operator already knows where you are calling because your address is already linked to your landline. This saves lots of time in the event of an emergency. For whatever reason, if you do cannot say anything over the phone, the 911 operator will still send someone to your residence to help you because your home address is linked to your home phone number.

Home Phone

So if you’ve been considering getting rid of your home phone because everyone in your household already has a cell phone, you may want to think twice. Consider keeping your home phone because you never know when you might need it.

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What are Junk Fees?

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As a homebuyer, you know that you’re going to be paying lots of fees to the escrow company. But, do you know what junk fees are? You might be outraged to find out that there are fees for things that you should not have to pay that a company can tack on to get more money from you. So we’re here to share with you what junk fees are and what you can do about them.

Junk Fees

Junk Fees:

Junk fees usually include certain administrative fees, application review fees, commitment fees, courier fees, email fees, organization fees, processing fees, and settlement fees. Some of these fees may seem necessary to the services provided, but they are often overpriced. That means that you can get them reduced and even taken off completely from what you owe them.

Lending Company:

The type of lending company you have should be upfront and honest about the fees. They should explain to you what all of the fees are for and why they are priced that way. If they cannot give you a justifiable reason, or the fees are too high, then you know that the junk fees can be reduced or even eliminated.

How to Negotiate Junk Fees:

Your lenders give you a document in the beginning of the loan process that describe the list of possible fees that you will pay—it is called a good faith estimate (GFE). With this document, look through these fees and see which seem too high or unnecessary to you. At this time, you can ask your agent to explain what these fees are for and why they are necessary. If they cannot give you a straight-forward answer, ask them to remove the junk fee or reduce them. If they will not reduce or remove many of the junk fees, it is best that you go with a different lender.

Junk Fees

Reducing/Removing Junk Fees:

Ask your agent or the brokerage to reduce the junk fee costs. You can do this by looking over the closing documents and asking them to go into detail as to what certain fees were for. If you feel that these specific fees are too high or unnecessary for the service provided, let them know. Tell them you want the junk fees removed, and they will either remove them or at least reduce what they can.

Who Can Help:

You should contact a real estate attorney to help you understand the entirety of the contracts you will be signing as well as pinpoint the junk fees that are unnecessary and can be gotten rid of. If you have a friend or family member who happens to be a real estate agent, you should ask them to help you understand which fees are legitimate and which are junk fees that can be removed. However, you should not hire a friend or family member as your real estate agent.

junk fees

The best thing you can do about junk fees is talk to your agent and lender about what fees can be taken off. It’s very likely that even legitimate fees can be over priced, and you can get them reduced. Do your best to work with your lender. They want you to finalize and close with them just as much as you do. This means that as long as both of you work together, you will come up with a price for closing and all of the fees that you think are fair.

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6 Tips to Get Ready to Buy a House (…someday) [Infographic]

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Still a ways away from purchasing real estate, but want to be responsible in the mean time? No matter your timeline, these tips will help every aspiring homeowner get ready to buy a house.

Get-Ready-to-Buy-a-House

 

1. Pay Bills on Time

This is the easiest way to boost your credit score. If you’re looking at taking a major loan in the future, all bills should be paid on time now.

2. Research Loan Options

Learn some Realtor lingo before your bank account relies on it. Here are some basic loan options. Here are some financing options that you may qualify for. You can also learn all the basic vocabulary with our BASICS series here on the blog.

3. Avoid Big Buys

If you’re within a couple years of applying for a mortgage, don’t make another big investment. Car payments or any other major expense will hurt your debt to income ratio, and make it look like you already have enough bills on your plate.

4. Have 3 Trade Lines

Lenders like to see that you can balance multiple payments. Again, you don’t want to add these trade lines within a year or two of applying for your loan, but a good example would be balancing a credit card, your student debt, and a car loan…

5. Save for Your Down Payment

Every month that you’re not paying a mortgage, you should act like you are. Set money aside with each paycheck to make that down payment greater. The more you save now, the easier it will be to not only acquire a loan, but to pay it off.

6. Understand Your Credit Timeline

You know not to make any major purchases a year out from your homepurchase. Six months before, stop checking your credit score. You should know by then if it looks good and too many checks will look suspicious to lenders. Two months before your big purchase, stop using credit altogether. Swap the credit card for a debit card so that nothing can set you back so close to the finish line.

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