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Many people in the market today are first-time home buyers who would not have been able to buy when home prices were higher. Enticed both by lower prices and bank promotions, these eager hopefuls are have taken the signs of deals as the best chance to make their first real estate move .
While all home buyers need help with the short sale process, it’s especially challenging to address the needs and concerns of a first-time home buyer who has decided a short sale is the home for them. Here’s how to get answers to first-time home buyers’ top three questions about short sales.
1. How long does it take for a bank to approve a short sale?
This is the million-dollar question. While it takes an average of three to six months, the timeline – and the process – vary quite a bit from one bank to another.
Short sale approval timelines depend on the bank (some just take longer than others). While each bank has different short sale guidelines, the short sale has to make sense to the bank. The more sense the short sale offer makes to the bank, the faster the approval process.
Here are some things that slow down the process by several weeks or more – these usually involve more people or more factors:
Multiple liens on the property
A third party negotiating the short sale on behalf of a seller. Some states allow third parties to do this, for a fee; some states, like Virginia, limit this to real estate licensees, attorneys, and employees of attorneys.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) on the property
Action: To make an accurate prediction about the short sale timeline for a particular property, research the bank’s general timelines, the property’s liens, and whether there is PMI before writing the offer.
2. Will the bank make repairs to the property?
The short answer is, probably not.
The bank does not have possession of the property and has no authority to make repairs on behalf of the seller.
Many short-sale sellers do not have the financial means to make repairs.
Many banks require the short sale to be sold strictly "as-is” and do not allow the seller to pay for any repairs.
Why wouldn’t a bank allow the seller to make repairs? your buyer may ask. A short sale is a sticky situation for a bank, and that the bank wants to avoid potential liability. For example, if the bank allowed the seller to make repairs and the repairs proved to be faulty, the buyer might potentially hold the bank liable, since the seller doesn’t have money (which is how the short-sale situation came about in the first place).
Action: Find out how the bank and the seller feel about making possible repairs. A short-sale buyer needs to understand that the home will most likely be sold strictly "as-is” and all repairs will be at their expense.
3. How do other types of debt affect the short sale outcome?
Many short-sale sellers are more than just "house-poor.” Many have additional debts that place a cloud on title. These include tax liens – income and property, medical liens, mechanic’s liens, and child support judgments.
Depending on your state, some creditors can try to collect debt by going to civil court and getting a judgment lien placed on the property against the homeowner. These liens must be cleared before the short sale transaction can be closed.
Surprisingly, tax liens are probably the easiest to clear off the title. The IRS has several avenues to collect back taxes, and doesn’t want to become a real estate holding company. Removing a tax lien can take up to 120 days, so it is imperative that this process is started well in advance of the short sale.
Medical liens can usually be negotiated and a payment plan worked out. However, this is a time-consuming process and needs to be started as soon as possible.
Mechanic’s liens are a little harder to get removed. There is not much recourse for tradespeople and bad debts.
Child support judgments are also difficult to remove because they usually involve government agencies.
In short, additional debts can tie up the short sale process.
foreclosure , short sale , bankowned , first time home buyer , realestate , foreclosure , shortsale
If you think home maintenance is an unavoidable series of weekend-eating chores, remember the age-old advice of Benjamin Franklin: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The fact is, proactive maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home—without it, your home could lose 10% of its value. Regular, routine maintenance enhances curb appeal, ensures safety, and prevents neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs.
"It’s the little things that tend to trip up people,” says Frank Lesh, former president of the American Society of Home Inspectors and owner of Home Sweet Home Inspection Co. in Chicago. "Some cracked caulk around the windows, or maybe a furnace filter that hasn’t been changed in awhile. It may not seem like much, but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.”
Maintenance affects property value
Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, overall property values are affected.
"If a house is in worn condition and shows a lack of preventative maintenance, the property could easily lose 10% of its appraised value,” says Mack Strickland, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. "That could translate into a $15,000 or $20,000 adjustment.”
In addition, a house with chipped, fading paint, sagging gutters, and worn carpeting faces an uphill battle when it comes time to sell. Not only is it at a disadvantage in comparison with other similar homes that might be for sale in the neighborhood, but a shaggy appearance is bound to turn off prospective buyers and depress the selling price.
"It’s simple marketing principles,” says Strickland. "First impressions mean a lot to price support.”
Prolonging economic age
To a professional appraiser, diligent maintenance doesn’t translate into higher property valuations the way that improvements, upgrades, and appreciation all increase a home’s worth. But good maintenance does affect an appraiser’s estimate of a property’s economic age—the number of years that a house is expected to survive.
Economic age is a key factor in helping appraisers determine depreciation—the rate at which a house is losing value. A well-maintained house with a long, healthy economic age depreciates at a much slower rate than a poorly maintained house, helping to preserve value.
Estimating the value of maintenance
Although professional appraisers don’t assign a positive value to home maintenance, there are indications that maintenance is not just about preventing little problems from becoming larger. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1% each year, meaning that getting off the couch and heading outside with a caulking gun is more than simply a chore—it actually makes money.
"It’s like going to the gym,” says Dr. John P. Harding, Professor of Finance & Real Estate at UConn’s School of Business and an author of the study. "You have to put in the effort to see the results. In that respect, people and houses are somewhat similar—the older (they are), the more work is needed.”
Harding notes that the 1% gain in valuation usually is offset by the ongoing cost of maintenance. "Simply put,” he says, "maintenance costs money, so it’s probably best to say that the net effect of regular maintenance is to slow the rate of depreciation.”
How much does maintenance cost?
How much money is required for annual maintenance varies. Some years, routine tasks, such as cleaning gutters and changing furnace filters, are all that’s needed, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred dollars. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof, at a cost of $10,000 or more.
Over time, annual maintenance costs average more than $3,300, according to data from the U.S. Census. Various lending institutions, such as Directors Credit Union and LendingTree.com, agree, placing maintenance costs at 1% to 3% of initial house price. That means owners of a $200,000 house should plan to budget $2,000 to $6,000 per year for ongoing upkeep and replacements.
Proactive maintenance strategies
Knowing these average costs can help homeowners be prepared, says Melanie McLane, a professional appraiser and real estate agent in Williamsport, Pa. "It’s called reserve for replacements,” says McLane. "Commercial real estate investors use it to make sure they have enough cash on hand for replacing systems and materials.”
McLane suggests a similar strategy for homeowners, setting aside a cash reserve that’s used strictly for home repair and maintenance. That way, routine upkeep is a snap and any significant replacements won’t blindside the family budget. McLane’s other strategies include:
Play offense, not defense. Proactive maintenance is key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you’re unsure of what needs to be done, a $200 to $300 visit from a professional inspector can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems.
Plan a room-per-year redo."Pick a different room every year and go through it, fixing and improving as you go,” says McLane. "That helps keep maintenance fun and interesting.”
Keep track. "Having a notebook of all your maintenance and upgrades, along with receipts, is a powerful tool when it comes to sell your home,” advises McLane. "It gets rid of any doubts for the buyer, and it says you are a meticulous, caring homeowner.” A maintenance record also proves repairs and replacements for systems, such as wiring and plumbing, which might not be readily apparent.