Real Estate

Affordable Housing in Oklahoma City

Affording a home of your own on a limited budget seems to be getting harder and harder. The cost of housing continues to increase faster than most people’s paychecks. This includes both to rent and to purchase. Part of this is the constant increase in taxes and insurance. In addition, as people continue to move here it increases the demand for housing. As demand rises the cost of housing goes up. So, what is a person to do. In most cases buying is still less expensive than renting provided you are planning on living here for a length of time. If you are planning on living her 3 years or less, renting may be a better option.
When trying to maximize your buying budget, find a Realtor who knows the market and can help you know a good value when you see one. You may be able to get a better deal on a home that needs some cosmetic updates versus one that has been all dolled up and staged. Be careful of large projects if you are unfamiliar with construction repairs as those could cost you more than you originally budgeted for.
Look around for insurance. Call three or four different insurance companies and get a quote. You may want to transfer your car insurance in order to get a multipolicy discount. Ask the agent how that would affect your policy. Make sure that you review your policy yearly. You may need to change insurance companies if the rate is going up too much. Just make sure you know your roof will be covered if you change. It would be awful to change carriers for $100 a year difference and then find out that the hail damage your roof received should have been covered under your old insurance company.
Review the property taxes. You will get a new assessment of the homes value every year, generally around March. Look at it. Does the county believe your property has gone up or down in value? This is the taxable value and not the amount of money someone will pay you for it. The county does get it wrong sometimes. I saw a lady’s taxes fluctuate year to year significantly because she lived near a golf course. The years when the homes that backed up to the golf course sold her taxable value would go up $10,000-$15,000. The next year homes on the gold course wouldn’t have sold and her taxable value would hold or go down a few thousand dollars. She was living on a small income and was having a hard time with the payment due to the increase in property taxes over the years. I advised her to review her assessment yearly and protest the increases with the county. You cannot wait until you get your tax bill in November or December to talk to the county. Do it when you get your assessment. You only have 20 days to protest. She was also older and would shortly be eligible for a senior freeze. This would freeze the valuation so that it would not continue to go up yearly.
Being diligent in reviewing your taxes and insurance is one way to help keep your payments affordable. If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy or sell or invest in real estate, I would love to visit with you. Feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website. http://www.equityhomesteam.com

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Real Estate

What is a Mortgage Inspection Cert (MIC) and why does the seller pay for it?

A mortgage inspection cert is a drawing of the property that is being conveyed between two parties. It is often called a survey. It is not a pin survey and should not be used when determining actual lines to say install a fence. It is a useful to know easements and encroachments. It will also show whether a building is actually on the property it is supposed to be as per the legal description.
The seller pays for the MIC to prove that they have a marketable title. Sometimes I get sellers who rebuke the idea of needing a survey. Yet it is important. They are disclosing to the buyer that the title of the property through the survey is clear of encumberment and encroachments.
I have seen gas line easements which have run down the middle of a property, pools in easements, driveways that are over property lines and other easement issues. The most common easement violation are sheds in the utility easement. Just because there is an easement violation doesn’t mean you should stop the sale. You should investigate more to know what you are purchasing and to understand how it will affect the usefulness of your property.
The worst MIC I saw was one where the house didn’t actually sit on the property being sold. The seller and the previous seller had done a quick claim deed about 20 years ago and then did a corrected deed and then another corrected deed all to get the property correct. Unfortunately, they still did not convey title correctly. When the seller refinanced the property 12 years ago, the lender didn’t do a survey since the borrower owned the property. Had the borrower ever defaulted on the loan, the lender would have had a driveway as collateral. We had to go back and correct the deed in order to sell the property. It took about 5 weeks to accomplish, but my team did it. The other option would have been to quiet title the issue. The seller had been living in the house for 20 years paying taxes and would have won the quiet tile suit; it just would have cost attorney fees.
If you are purchasing property, always get a survey so you know what you are buying. You will want to know exactly what you are purchasing.
If you have real estate questions or are looking to buy, sell or invest in real estate please feel free to contact me at 405-213-2992. Feel free to visit my website

Real Estate

Can I get Down payment money?

There is a huge misnomer in the world that if you have never purchased a home before that you will get some free money to help buy a home. And if you have already purchased a home, you are out of luck. This is simply not true. Let me explain.
Down payment assistance programs were created to help low to moderate income families purchase a home of their own. If you make too much money, you will not qualify. There are two types of down payment programs referred to as —bond loans and grants. Today most of these programs do not require you to be a first time homebuyer. In addition, if you have not owned a home within the past 3 years, you are considered a first time home buyer.
Bond loans generally carry a higher interest rate than the prevailing rate. While both bond and grant programs both have income guidelines, bond loans allow you to make significantly more money and still qualify. Bond loans will usually pay the buyer’s down payment only. The buyer will need to negotiate closing costs with the seller or pay them themselves. These programs require that live in the property for a set period of time generally 5 years and you are not usually allowed to refinance or rent the property during this time. If you have your own money saved for down payment, you are generally better off using it than getting a bond loan due to the higher interest rate.
Grant programs allow you to get a loan using the prevailing interest rate. They do not increase the amount of the interest premium. These programs usually require borrowers to make less than the median income or perhaps 80% of the median income for the county. Currently, the grant program in Cleveland county allows a family of 4 to make up to $51,600 a year. This particular grant program will however pay the buyer’s closing costs, down payment and up front MI. This is a fabulous help for a home buyer. These programs generally require the buyer to have a percentage of their own money invested (1% of purchase price as of this writing in Cleveland county), a home buyer education class, and a property compliance inspection. Grant programs also require you to live in the property much like a bond loan.
If you are thinking about buying a home and would like more information on grant programs in your area or you are thinking about selling and you like to know how I can help you market your home using down payment assistance, please call me Sandi Walker 405-213-2992.

Real Estate

Should you sell your home in January?

It’s winter time and it’s cold outside. You want to sell your house, but you are thinking it is winter time and nobody is looking perhaps you should wait until spring. While I hear this all the time, it is simply not true. People look for homes all twelve months of the year. In fact I recently listed a home a couple days after Christmas and sold it in less than a week.
I believe there are several reasons to list and sell your house in the winter. These reasons include having more serious buyers out looking. These buyers aren’t kicking tires thinking about buying, they are actually buying a home. Perhaps they are getting transferred, married, or their lease is up. They need to move now. Often times less inventory is on the market in the winter time meaning less competition. Buyers have fewer choices in the winter time. It is simply a matter of supply and demand. In addition, you may be able to negotiate discounts with movers and repair people who are looking for work during this time.
The majority of buyers begin their search for a new home on the internet. They look at pictures and google earth. They research neighborhoods and look online prior to getting out and actually looking at homes in person. While you may believe that nobody is going to look at your home in January because there is snow on the ground, think again. They may have time to look online because they had a snow day. The pictures and the advertisement may have got them to thinking this looks like the house. In a couple days the snow will be gone and they will call wanting to see your house, but only if it is available for sale. So don’t let people tell you that houses don’t sell in the winter, because they do.
If you are thinking about buying or selling real estate, please give me a call. I would love to help you make the move. Sandi Walker 405-213-2992 or visit my website http://www.sandiwalker.com.

Real Estate

Hiring a contractor

The majority of homeowners at one time or other are going to want to make improvements to their home. Sometimes these will be small do it yourself improvements while others may be major renovations or repairs. In Oklahoma you are almost certain to replace the roof during ownership if you live in your house long enough. So what do you need to know about hiring a contractor.
First, ask your friends, family, or realtor for a referral. Having someone who has used the contractor before and had good success with them is worth its weight in gold.
Second, ask if they are licensed, insured and bonded. You want to know whether the person working on your largest investment has the correct education and insurance prior to hiring them. If not you still want to know this information so you can assess the risks you are taking by using non licensed people.
Third, ask to see their work. Have they done a project like you are wanting them to do? Do they have pictures of similar jobs or can they take you to a project that they are currently working on or have just finished.
Fourth, do they have a crew or will they do the work themselves. If they do have a crew, how long have the members of the crew been working for the contractor.
Fifth, what type of warranty does the contractor offer, if any. Make sure you understand the contractors policies prior to them making repairs. For example, you may find a plumber warranties his services for 30 days meaning if the sewer line gets stopped up on day 31 again you are going to have to pay to have it snaked out.
Sixth, get a couple quotes. If a price looks too cheap ask for more details as to what the contractor is going to do. Understanding what repair costs should be can help you determine whether the contractor you are hiring is trying to take advantage of you or not. If you are not familiar with what repairs should cost, ask around.
I am always happy to refer the contractors I use and trust. I feel that a referral is the best way to hire a contractor. And if for any reason, you aren’t happy with the contractor someone referred you to please by all means tell them. I only want to refer contractors who are taking excellent care of my friends and clients.
If you are interested in buying, selling or investing in real estate, please contact me at 405-213-2992 or visit my website http://www.sandiwalker.com

Real Estate

Flipping Homes–What does it take?

People who take old homes and rehab them for a profit are called flippers. Flipping homes can be a good way to make money; however, like every other business there is a risk. I believe that several tv shows have made flipping look like easy money which is not always the case.
In order to make a profit on a rehabbed house you need to have enough of a spread between the purchase price and the sales price. I believe the best way to estimate this is to work backwards from the potential sales price. I am also conservative on what this price will be. Let’s face it if you sell the house for more, then it is a bonus.
Working backwards looks like this.
Example:
Sales price when house is completed………………..$150,000
Cost to sell the property (10-12%)…………………….$15,000-$18000
Cost of repairs……………………………………………………$25,000
Holding costs (interest, taxes, utilities, etc)………..$2000 Can vary depending on how long you hold it.
Break even point……………………………………….………$108,000-$112,000
Cost of property including closing costs, etc………..$90,000
Profit…………………………………………………………………….$18,000-$15,000
Sometimes people new to flipping will tell me it shouldn’t take 10-12% to sell a house, but by the time you pay an agent to sell it and the title work and give something to a buyer, it becomes this amount. And let’s face it if it is less then you put more money in your pocket.
Same thing for repairs, things come up along the way and cost more. So make sure you have a little slop in the amount and you are not figuring the cost so tight that you end up losing money.
Please know that today you are probably going to have to do more than simply paint and replace carpet to make a profit. You are going to have to update kitchen and baths, open floor plans. People will pay more for nice finishes but don’t forget to make sure the roof and foundation is good. They also want the mechanical systems of the house to function properly and be updated.
Having a realtor to guide you and helping you can be incredibly valuable. I have personally rehabbed several homes and helped several investors in flipping homes. If you are interested in investing in real estate and would like some help please contact me at 405-213-2992 or sandisellsokc@kw.com

Real Estate

How will an increase in property taxes or insurance premiums effect my mortgage payment

The majority of buyers have an escrow account. This account collects money monthly so that when the property taxes and insurance is due the lender will pay the bill. I think this is smart. Especially since property taxes are due in December just in time for Christmas.
Taxes and insurance may increase or decrease over time. As these costs change so will the necessary amount needed in your escrow account. When taxes or insurance premiums increase they cause a shortage in your escrow account. The lender will perform a yearly escrow analysis to determine if you have enough money in your escrow account to pay your taxes and insurance. To do this they take your yearly tax amount plus your yearly insurance premium divide it by 12 and then add a certain amount as a cushion. Each year you will get a statement from the county regarding your property taxes. Do not simply look at it and throw it away. Go back and look at what you paid last year in property taxes. If the amount has gone up significantly, call the lender. You will need to either pay the difference (shortage) into your escrow account or have the lender recalculate an increase in your escrow account immediately. This will cause your payment to go up but may be significantly less than if you wait for the next escrow analysis. If you simply throw the notice away and do nothing you are going to have a large increase in your mortgage payment next year. How much more you ask? Well if your taxes went up $240 a year, this would cause a shortage of $20 a month. The lender will need to collect the shortage plus an additional amount for the anticipation of the paying this new amount again next year. If your escrow analysis is later in the year, you could have a larger shortage meaning your payment could increase $40-$60 a month. Now think if both your taxes and insurance increased, your payment could really increase. Of course with insurance you can always call around and look for cheaper insurance, not so with taxes.
My advise would be to compare your taxes and insurance premiums each year and be proactive. I personally prefer to pay the difference and have my payment remain more consistent.

If you need a realtor to buy or sell I would love to help you. Please feel free to call me at 405-213-2992