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From Homeless to Homeowner: Buying Real Estate in Marietta, GA

Real estate

The first Molotov cocktail exploded into the neighbor’s front yard. Two gray figures swept across a ditch behind the house and disappeared into the thick smoke as the sky turned black. Two more yards had burst into flames. I ducked back into my car. People were screaming as the day turned to night-black darkness. War had started.

Pregnant and scared, I did not want this to be my daughter’s life. I wanted out. My fiance and I had been living in a rental house that we were renovating and house-sitting for a local landlord that we both worked for on our spare time in return for free living space. It was a great location for us to live in and it was great security for his expensive construction materials, but some of our neighbors really hated each other, and the situation was growing worse with each passing day.

 

My fiance and I fled to a friend’s apartment. She had recently lost her job and needed to take in boarders to help pay the bills, and we needed a safe haven. We stayed in her apartment while I worked and my fiance sifted through the local real estate listings and worked with a local real estate agent who was also a trusted friend of ours.

 

The first stumbling block was the real estate market itself. I was buying cheap real estate in some of the hottest markets in the country; the Marietta and Atlanta real estate markets were brutal to navigate because some houses were on the market for less than two hours before being sold. We would also mention our finds to local mortgage brokers during the financing process only to find the houses snapped up the next day. Sometimes we would inspect a house on my day off only to discover that it had gone under contract that very morning at 6 am or even earlier. We went through at least twenty of these frustrations. I learned not to disclose the address to anyone other than my own trusted real estate agent until the property is officially under contract.

 

Several mortgage brokers we visited had their own preferred real estate agents in the Marietta and Atlanta areas who would then try to sell us their properties, all of them more expensive than I could afford. It took us at least two months to find someone who we could work with. The hard part was finding someone who would not try to poach our real estate finds out to their own friends and family. Cheap Marietta and Atlanta houses were increasingly hard to find as time passed on. The baby was due in mid-December, and it was September. The clock was ticking.

 

Another hindrance was our credit and financial statements – I had barely acceptable credit scores while his was poor, and we both had almost no money in the bank. So it was determined that I was to get the loan and we would work on getting a zero down loan while enforcing Georgia’s custom that the seller pay closing costs. It was October. I went to the doctor, who determined that my official due date was December 23.

 

We both were looking at potential properties, inspecting them, and going over contracts. More houses disappeared the days that we looked at them. Things were looking grim. A plague of roaches took over our friend’s apartment and her son was causing problems. Her son had broken our fax machine in a fit of anger at having us living in ‘his’ living room. We fled back to our landlord friend’s property because things had quieted down in the neighborhood and the conflicts had stopped. We felt that we were finally in a safe place again.

 

It was November, and our friend had stumbled upon a great one-story house that she did not want to buy. It was priced below market value by at least thirty thousand dollars and the price was something I could afford. We ordered inspections and had our real estate agent produce a contract. We offered several thousand less than what the house was priced and required that the seller pay closing costs. We hoped for the best and waited for the response. Meanwhile, I went to work and told my co-workers to wish me the best of luck – my American Dream finally seemed to be within reach.

 

The seller accepted our offer, and closing was set for the last week in January. But things took a turn for the worse; people were burning garbage off a waterway near our renovating house, and a cat died underneath the house, causing a terrible stench. A hole that we had cut in the concrete in the garage to repair some piping had become an entryway for rats. One of them leaped at my fiance and snapped its jaw shut, catching on his pants leg. I watched as my fiance beat it away and ran from a large group of running rats that had exited the garage. We spent several days and nights living out of my car. I was determined not to have to go back to our friend’s apartment until the cockroaches were gone, but our patience was wearing thin, and the weather was getting cold. We went back to the apartment.

 

It was now December and we were in the process of securing financing. The company, not named, suddenly required more proof of my income. I called the personnel department of my work and had them send out more copies of my W-2 and income statements to a local PO Box of ours. We went to my bank and requested more statements to fax to the financing company. I took up some of my computer tools and fixed our fax machine. We were faxing documents and securing quotes on loans.

 

Things seemed to go well, except the roaches were getting to be a problem. In the middle of the night, I woke up to a large,one inch long, black roach scurrying up the inside of my right leg. I woke up later, early in the morning and slapped another huge roach off my face. My patience was wearing thin again, but we had no place to stay, as rents were rising in all the apartments because of the increase tenants available from foreclosures.

 

I continued to go to work, nervous about my due date. It was the second week of December. I stood in the office at my desk and turned to a co-worker and announced that something was leaking. I went to the restroom to take care of the ‘problem’ and my water broke as I sat on the toilet. Approximately thirteen hours later, my daughter was born in a hospital room full of cheering people. My parents arrived at the hospital and offered to let my fiance and I stay at their house. I quickly agreed.

 

My daughter and I were discharged from the hospital. My mom picked us up and the arguments started almost immediately upon our arrival ‘home.’ The third day that we were there, my fiance was ordered to leave and my parents then tried to convince me to cancel the purchase of the house. I refused, and left my parents’ house with the new baby.

 

My fiance took us over to our friend’s apartment. Our stay there lasted two days – her son was upset that we were there with our daughter. So we were ordered to leave and our things were thrown out onto the street. We spent a tense two days out in the winter’s cold, living out of the car. The only decent place we could think of was at one of the landlord friend’s empty houses, but there were no working utilities. So we parked the car at the driveway and slept in the warm car, bundled together in heavy blankets that we pulled out of a storage unit we rented for our things as we waited for Closing Day.

 

A mean neighbor called the police on us in the middle of the night, and the police officer on dispatch to our location asked us to leave. We started calling on all of our friends to find a place to stay. One person agreed to take us in. Our friend lives out in the countryside in a rented double-wide trailer with his wife and three children. Our daughter finally had a warm place to sleep at night. I returned to work from maternity leave in mid-January.

 

Closing Day approached, and we continued to work with the financing company. We had been told that our note would be a zero-down loan with 6 percent interest. Twelve hours before the closing was scheduled, the Federal Reserve Banks declared a nationwide immediate end to zero-down loans. Three percent down was suddenly required. We asked our families for the money. My fiance was able to come up with most of the money and my grandparents helped me out with the rest of what was needed.

 

The seller and I went into a local real estate office and signed a mountain of documents. They consisted of the contract and copies, finance documents and copies, HUD statements and copies, and various legal documents written up by a Marietta real estate attorney. I hugged my real estate agent and thanked her. After it was all said and done, a few pictures were taken and we left the office to get started on moving everything into our new home.

 

As a first-time buyer, I never cease to wonder how we coped with rats, roaches, a fire, evictions, and all the other stresses that we were forced to endure. My co-workers will never find a better story to re-tell. Even though I bought the house in January, I consider my success to be a Christmas-time miracle.

 

So many things could have stopped us. We had nothing but our faith. In retrospect, buying real estate in Marietta, GA has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It was worth it, though, because my children will have a wonderful place to live and are free of the violence that plagued our old neighborhood.

 

From homeless to homeowner, I am a success and I invite  amp; encourage anyone else to try to succeed as well.

Weichert School of Real Estate Hoboken, New Jersey

School

Weichert School of Real Estate

1 Newark Street

Hoboken, NJ 07030

(800) 544-3000

one block north of Lackawanna Terminal

Being a real estate salesperson in New Jersey can be an exciting and rewarding career. The course you must take requires a 75 hour classroom study that is a lot to take in. Finding a good instructor who runs a nice program is very important and you do not have to look any further. The daytime classes at the Weichert School of Real Estate in Hoboken, NJ taught by Frank Plasencia are in my opinion the best that New Jersey has to offer. Weichert School of Real Estate will furnish you with the text book and Frank Plasencia will give you the tools you need to succeed.

 

The class consists of seven days of study from the text book and three days of testing (one practice and two finals) for a total of ten from 9AM to 4:30PM. The course is pretty intense as you will be going over a lot of information in a short period of time. It is more than possible to complete this as is proof by Frank Plasencia’s track record at the Weichert School of Real Estate in Hoboken, NJ.

 

Frank Plasencia is far and above better that any other instructor I have ever been taught by and it is a pleasure to sit in his classroom. He has a method of teaching and making you remember things that is remarkable and I recommend it to anyone who would like to become a real estate salesperson in New Jersey. It is a very fast moving class but Frank makes it fun and enjoyable and easy to get through. The way he speaks and the context in which he presents the information is a fantastic way of instructing. Especially his word association tips. This course and the state exam for that matter involve some math problems in word form and Frank has an effective way of teaching that as well. Obviously we are all different and all learn in certain ways and he can have a very patient demeanor and slow down for a second and make sure that nobody falls behind. If you follow his program and pay attention any person taking this class should have few problems in obtaining the passing grade you need to complete this step and move on to the state exam.

 

To say the least Frank Plasencia is a true gentleman and a true professional. The best first step you can take on your way to becoming a real estate salesperson is to sign up for the daytime classes at the Weichert School of Real Estate in Hoboken, NJ with Frank Plasencia. You will be glad that you did.

 

The school does not offer on site parking. There is plenty of public transportation to Hoboken, NJ. Certain NJ transit buses and trains as well as the Path Train end up at Lackawanna Station around the corner from the school. If you must drive, street parking in Hoboken is virtually non existent for that length of time although there are municipal lots nearby for a fee.

Gulf Homes for Sale – Reasons Why You Should Invest in Gulf Real Estate

Gulf

There are a lot of gulf homes for sale that are good real estate investment because of their locations and affordability taking into account of the region’s overall geographical resources, sceneries, and commercial prosperity.

Being the ninth largest body of water in the world, the Gulf of Mexico has abundant natural resources. The wide array of natural resources includes fisheries, minerals, and ecological habitats. Specifically, fisheries such as shrimps and oysters account for half of the U.S.’s fisheries products. Mineral resources such as petroleum in the Gulf produce a quarter of the U.S. domestic natural gas and one-eighth of its oil. Lastly, ecological habitats like coastal wetlands, submerged vegetation, important upland areas, and marine/offshore areas have great commercial values to the region.

 

The Gulf region is famous for its beautiful sceneries. Florida beaches are one of the hottest spot for vacationing or local recreations. The spectacular beauties and first-class facilities and services are the best features of Florida beaches that have drawn million of people there monthly. Mississippi river is another beautiful spot in the Gulf Region where people can visit Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and national historical parks like Natchez National Historical Park, and New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. Down to the more southern part of the Gulf region, one can visit the El Cielo and other attractions in Mexico. Even more south, you can also enjoy Cuban beaches such as Varadero Beach, the Eastern Havana Beaches (Playas del Este) which are also famous for its sunshine and great facilities.

 

In addition, geographically, the Gulf of Mexico is surrounded by Gulf Coast states of the United State such as Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas; regions from Mexico such as Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan; and also the inland of Cuba. Because of its unique geography, the Gulf region definitely has tremendous commercial potentiality. Tourism is one of the most important commerce in the region. The beautiful beaches and shores are popular spots for tourists and local alike that generates billion in revenues for local businesses.

 

Ports and shipping industries, on the other hand, are also commercially important in the Gulf region. The entire region is approximately 600,000 square miles which is measured of about 995 miles from east to west, 560 miles from north to south. Specifically, the area from Cape Sable, Florida, to the Yucatan peninsula is more than 3,540 miles, with another 236 miles of shore on the northwest tip of Cuba. And the total shoreline will be more than 16,000 miles in the U.S. if bays and other inland waters are also counted. Seven out of top ten sea ports in the U.S. are located in the Gulf of Mexico. For instance, the Port of South Louisiana in New Orleans and the Port of Houston are two of world’s busiest sea ports.

 

Residential real estates in the Gulf region offer you varieties of styles from villa to townhouse. And investing in Gulf homes is a wise choice not only because of the region’s rich resources, and commercial values, but also because of the many beautiful sceneries and mild weather.

Why Do Lenders Offer the Best Remortgage Rates? Receive Approval for the Best Fixed Rate Mortgage Deal

Best Remortgage Rates

Since house prices started to slide, lenders have become increasingly cognisant of high risk secured borrowing. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, 1 in every 200 U.S. family homes will be repossessed during the current downturn. It is a fair assumption that the best remortgage rates will be offered to homeowners who are least likely to default. Foreclosing on a property is not only time consuming, it is financially expensive and tarnishes the image of the lender.

How to Get the Best Remortgage Rate

In order to minimise risk, banks use a more stringent set of criteria to determine eligibility. The cheapest mortgage loans will be made available to customers who are in stable employment, have a low income to debt ratio, have excellent credit and are able to offer a decent house deposit. This approach ensures that the borrower is well placed to make their monthly repayments. Also, the bank knows that they can easily recover the full loan value in the event of default.

A Low Interest Mortgage Requires Good Credit

Any homeowner who is looking for the best remortgage rate will need to avoid a low credit rating. Those who have missed payments will only be eligible for a bad credit mortgage. Whilst it can take several years to improve credit, some credit reports do contain inaccurate data. It is important to get hold of a report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion to check for errors. Always get these corrected several months before performing any mortgage refinancing.

Stable Employment Leads to the Best Fixed Rate Mortgage

The borrower’s employment is fundamental to sustained affordability. Not surprisingly, the best remortgage rates won’t be offered to those who are in temporary employment or still in their probationary period. This is because their income can stop at any time. Customers in a trade or professional job will always be favored by lenders, but it is the length of time that person has held their job that is most critical.

A Low Income to Debt Ratio

Just as the sudden loss of employment regularly leads to default, an unsustainably high level of debt relative to income can be equally catastrophic. Lenders are unlikely to lend money to those who have an income to debt ratio that is greater than 36%. In practice, the lower this figure the better.

Mortgage Refinancing Requires a Sufficient House Deposit

Whilst this criteria is often relaxed when property prices are rising, the greater the home equity the more likely a homeowner is to receive approval for the best fixed rate mortgage deal. Should the customer be unable to maintain their monthly repayments, the lender wants to be able to recover its money. Whilst they are obliged to get fair market value, equity provides a cushion against any repossession deficiency.

Achieving the Best Remortgage Rate

The cheapest mortgage loans will only be offered to homeowners who present minimal risk of default to the lender. This means that credit history, employment and home equity are fundamentally important. Always compare mortgage rates online and check for feedback regarding how existing customers are treated.

House Auctions Offer Cheap Property: Buying Properties at Home Auctions Can Save a Lot of Money

House auctions are exciting affairs. The normal long-drawn out process of house buying is telescoped into a few minutes of frantic bidding. While the unwary may be in danger of paying over the odds, the pressing need to sell ensures that auctions offer an excellent opportunity to buy cheap property.

Repossessed homes are always on the menu, and not everyone likes the thought of benefiting from someone else’s misery. But the dispossessed would be still worse off without home auctions. In order to get some money back they need people to buy their former home.

Finding Cheap Property at House Auctions

Those interested in buying properties in this way must first find their auction. Home auctions are advertised in specialist property publications, on the property pages of newspapers and magazines, and online. And all property auctioneers will, of course, happily give information on their upcoming sales. Having established where and when an auction is to take place, the next step for those in search of cheap property is to acquire a catalogue. This will give details of all the properties available.

Viewing Auction Properties in Advance

The prospective buyer must now move fast, for there is seldom more than three weeks between the appearance of the catalogue and the auction itself. And while some are prepared to take the risk, it really is pretty stupid to buy a home without checking it out carefully in advance.

The sort of property sold at house auctions is always different in some respect from that marketed in the normal way. Houses for auction include, for example, property which is considered too run down for a normal sale. This is why many property developers are to be found at auctions.
For the ordinary home buyer, the most promising auction properties are repossessed homes. Generally speaking, these are sold at home auctions simply because the lender, having no interest in owning a house, wants the quickest possible sale in order to recoup the unpaid loan. There is no point in being squeamish about buying properties which have been repossessed: only when the house is sold does the former owner get any money back.

Researching Auction Properties

Having found something which appeals, the prospective buyer should look carefully at other properties in the area in order to see how attractive the guide price is – always bearing in mind that that figure is designed to attract interest, and is often lower than the price finally achieved.

Unless the building is new and built to stringent standards, it should be looked at by an expert. It goes against the grain to pay for a survey of a house which may in the end go to someone else, but it would be much worse to buy one which turned out to be unsound.

Houses for auction come with legal packs which are available from the auctioneers. A prospective bidder should show the legal pack to a solicitor in order to be aware of potential difficulties – there often are with auction properties.

Buying Properties at Home Auctions

It is possible to preempt the whole process by submitting a bid before the auction. If the seller accepts, the property is then withdrawn from the list.

But for properties sold on the day of the auction, the buyer must have financial arrangements – for example, a mortgage or a bridging loan – already in place. A ten percent deposit, payable on auction day, will be forfeit if the balance is not paid within twenty-eight days.

On the day itself, auction rooms usually being very crowded, those who arrive late may well have to stand. And those who mean to bid should make quite sure that they are easily visible to the auctioneer. For those who cannot be present, it may be possible to bid by telephone. The auction house will advise.

Having decided on a maximum price, the bidder should not exceed it. If the property goes to someone else, then time and money have been wasted, but this simply has to be accepted. Otherwise, when the hammer falls, the deal is done. There will be no anxious weeks of waiting, no possibility of being gazumped. Everything has been accomplished in three weeks.

Advice in Renting Cumbrian Holiday Homes for Lakeland Exploration

Advice in Renting Cumbrian Holiday Homes

How to Find the Ideal Holiday Home within the Lake District

The following advice on renting accommodation within the Lakes may help in selecting the right one:

An activity holiday within the Lakes District can be enjoyed more if the opportunity to partake into the desired activity lies within the vicinity. A walking holiday for instance, can be enjoyed when residing within such towns as Ambleside, Grasmere, Windermere, Keswick, Elterwater and Hawkeshead. Many walking routes intersect these areas including the Allerdale Ramble and the Coast to Coast route, which will dispense with the need for a car journey to get there.

Family Friendly Holidays in the Lake District

Family walks within the Lakes can be enjoyed within Whinlatter Forest and Grizedale Forest which are road-less. These are close to Keswick and Hawkshead respectively. Buttermere Village offers an easy circuit of Buttermere. Levens Hall and Holehird Gardens also offer interest for youngsters. Bowness Village has Beatrix Potter Land and a convenient location for Lakeland Cruises across Windermere.

Advice on Activity Holidays within the Lakes

Water sports such as sailing or swimhiking can be enjoyed when located within a Lakeside village, such as Patterdale , Bowness or Derwent. Alternatively, mountain biking or mountain hiking can be enjoyed within the locale of Coniston, Glenridding or Seathwaite. Lake District cycling routes can be enjoyed within locales such as Keswick, Windermere, the Langdales, Ambleside and Elterwater. A holiday with a difference can be found when looking for a painting holiday in the Lakes or a writing retreat, where plenty of inspiration is in supply.

Holiday Lodge, Caravan or Cottage in the Lakes?

With the village or location selected, the type of accommodation within Lakeland requires thought. The following considerations will help in obtaining the most suitable cottage or lodge within the Lakes District:

  • The budget available
  • Whether the accommodation allows for dogs and smoking
  • Facilities for parking, particularly if several cars are to be used
  • Disabled access if this is required, such as ramps and ensuite bathrooms
  • The views desired
  • Family friendly facilities such as an enclosed garden and whether high chairs and pushchairs are provided
  • Someone to contact if problems are encountered such as a breakdown

Ideal Places to Stay in the Lake District

The following Lake District parks supply top quality lodges, caravans and facilities for tourers and campers for those wishing to holiday in the Lake District.

  • Fallbarrow Park, Bowness Village
  • Limefitt Park, Windermere
  • White Cross Bay, Windermere
  • Troutbeck in Windermere
  • Silouth, Wigton on the Cumbrian coast
  • Caldbeck, Carlisle
  • Thanet Well Lodges, Penrith

Websites offering Cumbrian cottages to hire are:

  • Cottages 4 You
  • Lakeland Cottages
  • Heart of the Lakes

Finding the Ideal Accommodation within the Lake District

The most suitable Lakeland accommodation is often in its locality, as different areas of the Lakes offer something unique. Close proximity to facilities to enjoy a particular pastime is likely to result in a more enjoyable holiday. Of course, there are many different types of accommodation on offer, so careful thought on the holiday makers’ needs will help in selecting the best place to stay in the Lakes, whether it is an idyllic cottage, a pine lodge or caravan. A well established company with a quality seal is a safer bet.

How to Choose Between a Fixed Rate or Variable Mortgage

Fixed Rate Mortgage

One of the main decisions that many homeowners have to make is whether to choose a fixed rate or variable mortgage. Each of these options has its own general pros and cons. The circumstances of the individual and the mortgage market as a whole may also affect how cost effective these mortgages may be. Which criteria should consumers use to choose between a fixed rate or variable deal?

What is the Difference Between a Fixed Rate or Variable Mortgage?

A fixed rate mortgage will set monthly repayments at a specific amount. During the time that a deal lasts the homeowner will always make the same payment. A variable loan comes with repayments that may go up and down depending on any movements in the underlying market or lender rate to which the deal is tied.

Monthly Spending Budgets May Influence the Decision Between a Fixed or Variable Rate

Some consumers will choose a mortgage type based on how repayments influence their monthly spending. For example, those that want or need to know exactly how much their repayments will be may well opt for a fixed rate deal.

This is often the route chosen by first time buyers, many of whom are working with tight budgets and who like the security of guaranteed payment levels whilst they find their feet. Those that are not so concerned with needing to budget for an exact payment every month may find that a variable deal suits them better.

Market Conditions and Fixed or Variable Rate Mortgages

The effectiveness of fixed and variable rate mortgages is also influenced by external market conditions. In some circumstances, a fixed rate deal may be more cost-effective than a variable option and vice versa.

So, now you have an idea of the difference between fixed rate mortgage and variable rate mortgage. And it is time to get started in the mortgage industry, isn’t it?

You Can Sell your Home Today: Even in Down Market Buyers Still Need Homes

Buying A home

The news regarding the state of the housing industry is far from positive these days.

The National Association of Realtors reports that existing-home sales, which includes single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and co-ops, fell 5.3 percent in January of this year when compared to the last year. The numbers are even worse when comparing January sales to the same month one year earlier; Home sales dropped 8.6 percent across the country from January of the last year to the same month this year.

That means there are a lot of sellers out there still trying to move their homes. It also means that buyers have more options than ever when it comes to buying homes.

Sellers, then, have to do whatever it takes to attract fair offers on their homes.

Set the Right Price

The biggest mistake that sellers make in today’s market is overpricing their homes.

Housing values across the country are falling because buyers no longer want to pay sky-high prices for their homes. The National Association of Realtors reports that the prices of existing homes fell from an average high point of $230,200 in July of 2014 to $175,400 in December of last year.

Sellers who are still pricing their homes like it’s 2016 may find that few buyers are willing to make them offer. These buyers will instead move on to the next home that’s priced just a bit lower.

Fix That Dripping Faucet

Buyers hold the power in today’s real estate market. When they tell sellers that they want a purple bedroom painted a neutral color or that they’d like to see an old roof re-shingled, sellers have little choice but to either hire someone to do the work.

Sellers may also provide potential buyers with a credit or the money to repair the problem themselves, depending on what the buyers want.

Gone, though, are the days when sellers could boast that their homes came “as is.” Sellers who do that today will find few takers for their residences.

Hire a Stager

To attract a buyer today, homes have to stand out in a positive way. One way for buyers to showcase a house to the best of its ability is for them to hire a home stager.

Stagers will either work with existing furniture or art or bring in their own pieces to set up a residence so that it looks its best. They can also position furniture so that it hides a room’s flaws. For instance, a stager might position a bed and dresser to make a small bedroom look larger than it is.

Sellers usually pay for stagers. However, rates vary around the country, so homeowners should shop around before hiring a stager.

Be Willing to Compromise

Finally, sellers should be open to compromise during negotiations. If buyers need to move into the home at an earlier date, sellers should do what it takes to accommodate them. If they’d really like the kitchen refrigerator to stay behind, sellers should at least consider it.

Sellers may think they’re giving up a lot to buyers. And they are. But sellers have to remember that buyers hold the advantage in today’s market. To get them to make an offer, sellers have to be willing to compromise more than they ever have.

Property Disclosures—Hmmm What Do We Disclose?

Property Disclosures So many people are talking about property condition and what they have to disclose when they list their homes for sale. Hopefully this article will point you in the right direction.

Long gone are the days of “buyer beware” ! We have the most litigious society in our history–so welcome to the era of “seller beware”! Most states have regulations requiring a seller to notify a buyer of the known condition of the property and any known defects. Failure to do so could result in a devastating civil lawsuit! Most states have forms for you to provide the buyer detailing this information. I will provide you a list outlining most of the required disclosures; however, you need to find out what your state requirements are. You can do this by asking a local REALTOR, an attorney, state real estate board or title company representative. While your state may be absent of regulations regarding disclosure, you might consider it a moral obligation rather than a legal obligation to disclose certain property traits.

Expect to disclose the following: What items the property has (and whether or not they convey) like: range, dishwasher, washer/dryer hookups, oven, trash compactor, window screens, microwave, gutters, alarm system, satellite system, intercom/stereo system, ceiling fans, cable television wiring, television antennae, window air condition units, central air and heat, attic fans, plumbing system, septic system, public water and sewer system, fence, patio and decks, swimming pool, hot tub, yard sprinklers, fireplace, garage, garage door openers, water heater, etc… See your local requirements to add and delete from this listing.

Do these items work properly? If any of these items do not function as they are intended you will need to let the buyer know. If an item is not functioning as it is intended, do you plan on fixing or replacing it?

What about the roof? You need to have atleast a basic knowledge of the type, condition and age of your roof. If you have had a roof put on during your ownership try to find the records. If the roof is under warranty find out if the warranty is transferable to the new owner. Have you had repairs made? Did they come with a warranty?

Knowing the type and age of your existing roof will help the buyer calculate the life span of that particular roof and make allowances for repairs.

What about walls, ceilings and doors? Do you have holes in walls or stains on your ceiling? How about doors that don’t hang right? If you’re not planning on fixing them (which we will talk about later) you better disclose them. If you are planning on

fixing them–do it now, before showing your property. Do not hide defects from a prospect. (Please note that I am not suggesting you paint over the ceiling stain to hide the roof leak. I am suggesting you find the cause for the stain, repair it, and then repair the damage it caused.)

Are there termites in your house? Termites and other wood destroying insects are very common in the South. Newer homes even have pest-control systems built-in to help deter them. If you have had previous treatment or are under a termite contract have the certificate ready for review. While termites are the most common, other wood destroying insects must be disclosed if prevalent in your home. It’s a good idea to check with a local pest control specialist if you have concerns. If you know of existing problems I would suggest that it is money well spent to have treatment done immediately. The longer you wait the more costly the treatment will be and the more serious the damage. Treatment and the expense of it are inevitable–so get a grip on the problem at the earliest possible interval.

Any fires or flooding? Yep, you need to disclose it. Chances are you have left no evidence of previous fires or flooding, repairing all the damage, however, you need to let a prospective buyer be made aware of this anyway. Remember–it’s always better to be up front about these details. I assure you these secrets will not remain secret forever. At the first remodeling project evidence of such will come forth.

Is there a mandatory membership in an association? Many of the newer subdivisions have associations that pay for upkeep to the entrance, common areas, security lighting and such. If you have a mandatory membership in a homeowner’s association have the dues amount available and be aware of any special assessments or requirements.

Have you received a notice of deed violation or ordinance violation? If you have received any notices from authorities that something on your property is not in compliance with their restrictions or easements you need to let the buyer be made aware of.

Are there lawsuits affecting the property? If you are involved in any type of lawsuit that directly affects the property disclose it to the buyer. Also be sure to discuss your current listing situation with your attorney.

Pay Off a Mortgage Early To Increase Cash Flow: Real Estate Investors Can Use Assets for Greater Profits, Expansion

There are times when real estate investors want or need to increase the income generated by properties in their portfolios. It could be that increases in taxes, regulatory fees, or maintenance are cutting into the cash flow. Or it could be that an investor wants to take advantage of an opportunity to expand the portfolio with a property that can bring in greater profits.

One challenge for many investors is how to obtain financing. Applying for a sizeable loan may not be viable these days when banks seem reluctant to lend large amounts of money to anyone other than the “perfect” borrower who has high credit scores, a flawless credit history, and reliable income and assets. Selling a property could be an alternative way to obtain cash, but in today’s market this may take a long time and may not bring in a sum that satisfies the investor.

Investors should not overlook an important source of funds: the money devoted to paying the mortgages on property they already own. In other words, paying off a mortgage early may be an attractive alternative or supplement to conventional mortgage financing.

As appealing as the idea may be, however, paying off a mortgage early should not be taken lightly. It is a decision that requires serious thought and calculation, always with reference to one’s real estate investment plan.

Early Mortgage Payoff Pros and Cons

These are several advantages of paying off a mortgage early. A substantial amount of cash that was devoted to the mortgage is freed up and can be directed to other purposes. There is also the peace of mind of owning a property free and clear of a major debt. In addition, each extra dollar that goes toward reducing the principal of a mortgage loan also reduces the interest that is paid over the life of the loan, resulting in a savings of thousands of dollars.

There are also potential disadvantages to early mortgage payoff, such as:

Payment rejection. In an e-mail to this reporter, Andrew Housser, co-CEO of Bills.com in San Mateo, CA, noted that some borrowers who try to institute their own pay-down schedules by making half a mortgage payment on a biweekly basis may find that their lenders reject the payment for being less than the amount that is due. This could end up costing the borrower late fees. (Housser suggested that it may be better to divide the monthly mortgage payment by 12, add that amount to the monthly payment, and write the extra amount on the “additional principal” line of the statement.)

Prepayment penalties. In some areas of the United States, it is legal for lenders to include a provision for penalties in the event of early mortgage payoff. Lenders include such provisions as protection against the loss of the cash flow that they expect over the life of the loan.

Inflation. Because inflation erodes the value of the dollar over time, mortgage payments made in the future will cost less than at present because the dollar’s actual buying power will be reduced.

Short-term financial hardship. Investors may find it a sacrifice, at least short-term, to reduce the cash flow from a property by the amount sent in as additional principal each month.

Meet Real Estate Operating Expenses, Above All Else

Every investor’s financial situation is different, which is why it is essential to carefully weigh the pros and cons of early payoff of a mortgage. A tax or financial advisor should be consulted, if necessary.

Nonetheless, investors can avoid many problems and hardships through prudence and adherence to their investment plans. This means using only discretionary funds to pay down mortgages on their properties – never the money needed to meet the operating expenses of a property.