Five Keys to Successful Negotiation

Your success in the realty market lies in how well you negotiate. But negotiation is a complicated matter. All the parties involved want things to go their way. Given these conditions, how can you make things work for your favor? How does one become a succesful negotiator?

Based on experience, these five aspects determine a successful negotiation:

  • What the market says

    Study the market. There will be times when it’s more favorable for buyers and there will be other times when it will lean towards sellers. The key is to strike when the time is favorable for your side. For example, as a buyer you are in a position to offer the seller a quick deal and you know that the seller is in a hurry to sell the property. Take it as an opportunity to make things work in your favor.

  • Determine who has leverage

    If word has gotten out that the seller has gone bankrupt, you are in a position to make reasonable demands. On the other hand, if you know that the house is a hot item, expect many competition. Therefore, you are in no position to dictate the terms or ask for “extras”. The owner has the liberty to choose the buyer they want; usually to the highest bidder with the best terms.

  • What are the details?

    What are the other costs (or savings) involved? Most people think that the price of the house is all there is to it. But in fact, there are other things to consider. For instance, Both house A and house B cost $275,000. However, house A is an older house that needs costly repairs. Plus the seller of house A agreed to pay  a portion of the closing costs. On the other hand, house B also costs the same. But cost of  necessary repairs will not be covered by the seller.

    Think about all the costs and savings involved and determine where you can get better value for your money.

  • Financing

    All transactions involve money. Money affects negotiations in so many ways.

    Is the buyer pre-qualified or pre-approved by a lender? Finding your ideal house does not guarantee that financing will also be available. Your loan application can be denied because of several reasons; among them: appraisal problems, title issues, survey findings.

    One of the advantages of being pre-approved is that buyers already know how much they could afford. Sellers like buyers who are pre-qualified. They pose less risk to the seller. They won’t have to worry about waiting for the buyer to find a loan to seal the deal. Being pre-qualified means that you have the financial capacity to pay for the loan.

    Lower interest rates mean a broad market – a lot of potential buyers.

    Nowadays, downpayments are made easier. Now you can find loans with as low as 5% downpayment or even less. 100 percent financing or no downpayment plans is even an available option. 

  • Broker expertise

    Brokers are now representing not only sellers but buyers as well. If you have competition, being represented by a reputable broker gives you an edge.

How to Get the Best Deal

Buyers are now in a better position when it comes to buying a house. Gone are the days when real estate is a hot market and you need to make an upfront offer as soon as a property is put up for sale.

Competition has mellowed down in most areas. This gives buyers an opportunity to be able to deliberate on what is available and take advantage of the best deals. How do you determine the climate of your market? According to economists, real estate is directly related to employment. So if there is a rise in employment, you can say that the value of your property is also looking up. In the Midwest real estate is not doing as good as auto manufacturing. Prices are low and is not expected to rise anytime soon. It might take a while until the market rebounds.

Things buyers can keep in mind to get the best deal in the market:

  • Do your homework and negotiate fairly.

    In a changing market, the biggest problem is human nature. Market value can drop or stagnate. But sellers often refuse to believe this. To them, the price of their home is based on how dear it is to their heart regardless of its actual market value. On the other hand, buyers take advantage of a market slump and make unrealistically low offers. Before you make an offer, research and think about important things like the features of the home that you want to be in the home, the size of the home and the going rate of properties in the area.

  • Research on comparable sales.

    Find out how much the last one in the area sold. According to Beverly Durham of ReMax Gold Coast Realty in Camarillo, Calif., “See what’s going on out there.’’ Don’t insult the seller by making a very low offer. You’ll drive them away. Your goal is to make them consider your offer.

  • Why is the seller putting it up for sale?

    Find out as much as you can about this. Is it because of retirement, job-related, divorce, they need to relocate, or they simply want to sell to the highest bidder.  This information is crucial. If a buyer knows this, they can either negotiate better or decide to look elsewhere.

  • Check the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

    They usually state what the seller owes. Or your agent can provide this information for you.With this information, you could negotiate accordingly.

  • Timing.

    According to Durham, “After 45 to 60 days the seller is usually absolutely sick of keeping their house spotless and sick of people walking through.’’ After this period the seller will be anxiouse to sell their house.

  • Go for newer or well-maintained houses.

    It will cost you time, effort and money to fix damages.

    Even in a tight market, it’s okay to ask the seller to add the closing costs to the price of the house. It’s better to pay 20% downpayment and roll the closing costs into the loan than pay 15% downpayment and pay upfront for the closing costs.

  • Be reasonable

    when you ask for extras.You can also ask for new kitchen appliances or washer and dryer. Durham said you can even ask the seller to pay for the first year of homeowner association dues. But don’t ask them for things that involve workmanship. Durham said, “Don’t ask them to paint.’’“They won’t do it the way you want. They’ll do a lousy job.’’

    When you consider buying a home, think about staying there for atleast five years. Remember your goal as a buyer is to get the home that you want; not to outsmart the seller.

New House or an Old One?

When you think about buying a home, one of the first questions that come to mind is whether you buy an old house or a new one. A new house may be attractive because everything is new. Nothing has been used yet. The walls are clean, the closets have never been used before, they come with energy-efficient appliances and you won’t have to spend on repairs because of wear and tear. On the other hand, you may fall in love with traditional look and feel of an old house.

When you’re at a crossroad, these points can help you decide:

Old homes

  • Neighborhood.
    Some people prefer a home in an established neighborhood. Another plus factor are the full-grown trees and mature landscaping you can’t get from brand new houses.
  • Maintenance and repair.
    Existing homes need to be inspected by a proffesional home inspector. There might be existing damage or potential problems that will costly to repair or maintain. Old appliances may need to be replaced. All this needs to be considered in the purchase price.
  • Home improvement.
    If you’re into home improvement projects, an older house present opportunities to put your DIY (do-ityourself) skills to action.
  • Freebies.
    Existing houses come with features, furnitures and appliances that are already there. You can consider them freebies.
  • Land.
  • Location.
    Older homes are situated in or near business centers. But newer houses are usually in far suburbs.
  • Opportunity to remodel.
    There are some homebuyers who are excited at the opportunity to customize an old home according to their liking.
  • Price.
    In general, existing homes cost less than brand new ones.  Buyers can even get more for their money because of existing features that count as freebies – drapes, carpet, landscape.
  • Track record.
    With an existing home, you’ll already have an idea of the property’s value based on how much it has appreciated or depreciated over the years.
  • Tax savings.
    Existing houses have lower property tax rates (depending on your state). Plus you could save on local bonds associated with new development, such as schools, parks, or road or transportation improvements.
  • Traditional layout.
    People who love classic, formal dining and living areas will love older homes.

Learn to Research for the Best Mortgage Deal

Are you looking to finance a new home? Or are you finding the best mortgage rate to refinance your home?

The first step is to shop around. But what does that really mean? Research and prepare. Take time to think and analyze different mortgage plans. You could save a lot by doing this. Take this for example: on a 30-year mortgage for a $300,000 house, a homeowner would pay approximately $1,520 each month at a 4.5 percent rate. But if the homeowner chooses a slightly higher rate of 5.10 percent, it would increase the monthly mortgage payments to $1,633, which would make a difference of $40,680 in 30 years. (Figures were calculated on a 20 percent down payment.)

The best thing you should do is retrieve your credit scores. If lenders retreive them multiple times, it can lower your score. 

If you’re looking for a lender, look into their track record. Ask family and friends about them and when you’ve narrowed down your options to two or three lenders, compare their rates.

Before you compare rates, establish a budget. Think about how much maximum you can afford to pay every month.

The lender should be able to give you a comparison of loan terms with conventional methods of financingso you can make an informed decision. Don’t just jump into a plan with low rates. Make sure you understand all the costs with it.  Rate lock is a contract with the lender that ensures the interest rate will not change. But you will need to get the loan within a certain period of time; usually 60 days. If the rate increases, you will not be affected. Using a mortgage calculator , compute the monthly payment at different interest rates. If you find a rate that is lower than your limit, lock in to that rate.

When you see rates that are lower than your limit, act fast. Don’t miss out on good deals and offers.Some lenders offer a “float down.” This means that even if you’re already locked in on a low rate, you can get even lower rates. Specific contracts may vary depending on lenders.

When you look for a lender, don’t just consider one. Look into other lenders as well. Different lenders offer different products. Understand the products. Some products for example have low rates for new homebuyers but not for those who want to refinance.

It’s a good idea to try different institutions from a direct lender, credit union or a community bank. Once you’ve made up your mind on a lender, ask what other fees are added to the loan. You might choose a plan with a low rate but have a lot of additonal charges. Before closing the deal, make sure you know the total amount of the loan.

Once this is settled, decide when you want to close the deal. Discuss your intended date with the lender. Ask about the charges for loan lock periods. Lock in for the best rate and the right amount of time.

Should I buy a Condo or a House?

Buying a home is a big move. It leads to a series of things to think about. 

One of them is whether you want to live in a condo or a single unit family house? Each choice comes with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Only you can determine what’s best for you.

Michelle and Kevin Millsom, 31 and 36, is a newlywed couple living in Boston. Choosing to live in a penthouse apartment was the best thing for them. They don’t have any children, both have high-powered financial careers, and they love the excitement that the city had to offer.

“We enjoy everything the city has to offer—the restaurants, theatre, outdoor concerts. We walk everywhere and find the easy access to the airport to be a plus since we travel frequently for work,” said Kevin. “When we have children, we may think about a house in the suburbs, but for now this is where we want to be.”

They wanted to be at the heart of the city. So they bought a penthouse apartment overlooking Boston’s famous esplanade and Charles River.

Sounds to good to be true? As with all things, it also comes with its own share of disadvantages. They live in a two-bedroom/two-bath condo that costs way more than a home three times the size of their condo. And it’s just 20 minutes away. They share the building with fourteen other tenants which means that decision-making  with regards to the building need to be consulted with them. They also need to pay $300 per month for a parking spot for a car which they seldom use because of the convenience of their location. To most people the cost may sound unreasonable. But to Kevin and Michelle, who appreciate the convenience and the good location, the cost is all worth it.

Condo living is not for everyone. Adriana Forte, 62, chose to live in a “condex,” (a two-family home with a shared wall) in the Boston suburb of Arlington. After her divorce she chose to live in a condex thinking that taking care of a home will be too much to handle. However it turned out to be a wrong decision. “It’s difficult to live with neighbors so close,” Forte said. “First there was the noise. My neighbors are night people, and every night they are just getting geared up when I’m trying to sleep. Then I found myself handling 100 percent of the finances and maintenance of the duplex—without compensation. I may as well be living in my own house!”

She missed out on a lot of things that a single-family house can offer – fresh air and private outdoor space. Forte loves maintaining a home and a garden.

Consider these things to help you decide what is most important to you.

  • Location – Where do you want to live? Are both the condo and house in the same area?
  • Privacy – Are you comfortable about living closely with neighbors? How much do you value your privacy?
  • Responsibility – Do you want to have full control over decision-makings for your home? Or do you want to share that responsibility with other neighbors?
  • Maintenance – Do you enjoy taking of your home and garden? Or are you the type who is just not into plants?
  • Budget – How much can you afford? A condo might be more reachable right now.

Life is dynamic. People change and situations change. Whatever you decide now, can still be changed to suit your current lifestyle and preferences.  

1031 Exchanges

  • Definition
    A 1031 Exchange (Tax-Deferred Exchange) is One Of The Most Powerful Tax Deferral Strategies Remaining Available For Taxpayers. This allows the taxpayer to pay due taxes at a later date. In usual transactions, the landowner pays a percentage of his gain from the sale for taxes. But Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code allows the landowner to trade the property with another “like-kind” property. This however does not mean tax-free. It simply gives the taxpayer time to reinvest their profit.
  • Advantage
    The obvious benefit of a 1031 Exchange is that the taxpayer can postpone paying taxes. But an exchange of property of like kind has to happen. And this only pertains to investment property; not a personal home.
  • Disadvantage
    The exchange needs to be done within a limited time frame and reduced cost. And the funds need to remain invested. The taxpayer also needs to pay the exchange fee.
  • Exchange Techniques
    There are several ways of drafting a tax-deferred exchange. But it has to abide by the 1991 “safe harbor” regulations. It established procedures which include the use of an Intermediary, direct deeding, the use of qualified escrow accounts for temporary holding of “exchange funds” and other procedures which now have the official blessing of the IRS. Because of this, you will need the help of an Intermediary.
  • Investor Services
    Our extensive knowledge and experience proves our credibility in terms of improvement costs and acquisition guidelines. This helped us develop a strong relationship with owners and investors who help us understand all sides of any deal.

To us, negotiation is important and we have the patience to go through the the process of getting a good deal.

Our success rate is strong giving no wonder we enjoy a big share in the percentage of success rating in growing nationwide business.

Is It a Good Idea to Turn to Foreclosure?

Because of the crash of the housing bubble and the economic slump, many Americans find themselves with a home that costs way less than what they paid for. It’s worse for families who are troubled financially on top of this. Foreclosure seems to be the most logical option. Let’s discuss details and other options.

During the housing bubble, many people were compelled to join the bandwagon and purchased a house. But now they find that their houses are worth far less than what they paid for. There are many reasons why this happened. During the bubble, constructions companies built massive housing projects and a lot of them stayed vacant. Neighborhoods stayed empty. Some neighborhoods that were populated evetually became empty as homeowners turne/d to sub-prime mortgages, causing the entire neighborhood to fall in value. Houses in neighborhoods like this are hard to sell even at low rates. They are even hard to put up for rent.

On top of the crash of the housing bubble, a lot of Americans find themselves out of work or they have reduced work hours. Both cause families to lose part of their income. This makes bills harder to pay.

At that time, buying a house with low interest rates was so appealing. Despite their financial capacity, many American families turned to lenders to purchase a home. But now keeping a job has become tough and paying for mortgage has become such a challenge. The value of the house has depreciated so much that even if you sell the house, it won’t be enough to pay for the mortgage.

The first thing that people think about when faced with a situation like this is foreclosure. However, you must first think hard about it because they come with consequences. Having a record of foreclosure will give you a negative credit rating. and it will stay that way for years. When you need to apply for a loan, you might not be approved because of it. Even renting a house might be difficult if the landowner requires a credit report. Credit options is expected to be lower and there can be tax implications. If payment for mortgage has been continuously late, the homeowner may already feel the consequences mentioned above.

One of the advantage of being foreclosed is  that you can continue living in the house without having to pay for rent. Depending on your state, it could be a year or longer. You can also talk to the bank to ask for new terms. Especially if the property is in a difficult market. Be careful and be sure to know what you’re getting yourself into. There are some lenders who foreclosed homes illegally. 

If you’re not quite sure about foreclosure, you can also consider a short sale. A short sale is an agreement with the bank that they can sell the house at an amount much less than what was borrowed. Through this, the homeowner can get off the hook with minimal costs or be given terms that are easier financially. However, going into a short sale can also put you in a bad light in terms of your credit score.

Usually, families who are facing this difficult situation are advised to find a more affordable housing set-up; like living with relatives or having the house rented. But keep in mind that having your place rented can present problems of its own. You might find yourself with troublesome tenants that might lead you to more costs on repairs. 

If you are convinced that having your house rented out is the best option for you, research on what you need to know before putting up that sign. You need to first establish if your house can be rented out. Some homeowner associations do not allow rental. There could also be restrictions you should be aware of. Like in many college towns for example, laws have been passed to prohibit no more than two non-related adults to live in one single-family house.

The best thing to do is to seek legal advice from a lawyer. Each homeowner’s situation is unique. And different conditions apply so there is no one-fit solution to the problem. Just be open to various options and seek professional help so you can make informed decisions.

Why Home Inspection is Important

According to HouseMaster, a major home inspection company with offices in more than 390 cities in the United States and Canada, 40 percent of previously-owned homes have atleast one damage. Kathleen Kuhn, CEO and president of HouseMaster says, “Virtually every ‘used’ home needs some repair or improvement.” “That’s to be expected. But with today’s high prices, you want to make sure that you are aware of any major problems in a house you are considering purchasing, and what it will take to remedy the situation.”

From over one million home inspections, they’ve concluded that these are the most serious home defects to look out for:

  • 1. Cracked heater exchange
  • 2. Failing air-conditioning compressor
  • 3. Environmental hazards including radon, water contamination, asbestos, lead paint, and underground storage tanks
  • 4. Moisture in the basement
  • 5. Defective roofing and/or flashings
  • 6. Insect infestation — termites or carpenter ants
  • 7. Mixed plumbing
  • 8. Aluminum wiring
  • 9. Horizontal foundation cracks
  • 10. Major house settlement
  • 11. Undersized electrical system
  • 12. Chimney settling or separation

As per Kuhn, most of these damage can be repaired. But, depending on the gravity of the problem, it might cost you a lot especially if the problem is part of a major system. This is something that needs to be thought of before buying a house.

Roof repairs or a new roof could cost you at least thousands of dollars. A new air conditioning compressor could cost up to $1,200. To repair a basement will cost about $5,000. If you are already in the negotiating process, your agent should advise you to present a provision for renegotiating or backing out of the contract in the event that the inspector finds serious problems.

“If the property inspectors find that little or no corrective work is required, you have little or nothing to negotiate,” say Eric Tyson and Ray Brown in their book, Homebuying for Dummies. “Suppose, however, that your inspectors discover the $200,000 house you want to buy needs $20,000 of corrective work for termite and dry-rot damage, foundation repairs, and a new roof. Big corrective work bills can be deal killers.”

If however you are really bent on buying the house despite the problems, they offer these advises:

  • The sellers can leave enough money in escrow to cover the cost of repairs, with instructions for the escrow officer to pay the contractors as the work is completed.
  • The lender can withhold part of the full loan amount in a passbook savings account until the work has been done.
  • The sellers may give a credit for the work. Lenders may disapprove of this last alternative because there aren’t assurances that the repairs will be made.

Get a qualified inspector. Their service costs between $250 and $400. If you want to ensure his credibility, ask for referrals from groups like organizations like the American Society of Home Inspectors or the American Association of Home Inspectors. New members are certified before they could join the group. You can also ask referrals from friends who has had to go through the same experience. But don’t leave everything to the home inspector. Invest a few hours with them asking them to explain the problem (if there are), what to look out for, how to keep your house well-maintained.

As Kuhn of HouseMasters say, “A pre-purchase inspection is your best protection against buying a home based more on emotions, rather than as a sound investment.”

Is Renting Better Than Buying?

Being a homeowner has its perks and privileges but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities which all involve money. You need to think of repairs, taxes, insurance and maintenance. Not to mention city maintenance and repairs for streets, sewers, curbs and sidewalks near your home. If your house is in the corner of the block, these costs are doubled. 

But don’t let these costs discourage you from becoming a homeowner. If you have the desire and enough funding to purchase a home, you should also have a good understanding of government policies so your house becomes a good investment. Consider it as a business with the city and state financial departments so your chances of making a promising investment is high.

Know what it takes to become a homeowner. Learn the ropes from completing and filing paperwork and getting in touch with necessary agencies. All the hassle involved in the process can be confusing and discouraging.

Your role is an investor. Your responsibility is to own and maintain your property. But you are not expected to know everything including the business side of owning a home. You need to team up with people you can trust who can help you ensure your house’s value will increase. This team should be able to guide you in making prompt payments, tax assessments, insurance, maintenance,( H.O.A. requirements, when applicable), upgrades and necessary repairs or maintenance. If these sounds all too overwhelming for you, you ight as well stick to renting.

Through renting you are giving business to the owners. Being a renter, you don’t need to come up with a large amount of money and no need for taxes.

Think about these things:

  • How much is my income?
  • How much is my rent?
  • What is your credit rating?
  • How much do you spend and how much do you save?
  • How well do you handle your money?

You need to think about these things to determine if you’re ready to be a homeowner. You should also consider the economy. Do you know the current market climate? Do you believe it’s looking up? Are you knowledgeable when it comes to government regulations.

So ff you want to buy a property and work towards increasing the value, you as homeowner needs to be knowledgeable about finances, real estate, taxes, government policies and regulation, city building codes and restrictions and have good credit rating. If you know these things, you can make your investment grow and start other investments for your family’s future.

After some time, the value of the home you invested in will increase. This is the measure of your success as a financial wizard. You were able to take advantage of the government tax system and policies and borrowed against it. The money you borrowed is tax free and your earnings from it is tax-deductible.

People who used this method was able to finance other things like school tuition, payment for a new home or a new investment.

If you bought a home for $600,000 and you sell that same home for  $1,000,000, you can have the gain tax-free for up to $500,000 for a married couple. Real estate transactions like this is the only one that have a no tax income advantage. You may want to consider them for your retirement fund.

When it comes to investing, no time is better than now. But don’t do it in haste. Careful planning is required. And do it with a team of professionals who can help you with financial and legal matters.

A real estate agency is really a team that lead you to good investments and they teach you how you could maximize your earnings – tax free.

Renting versus Buying

no tax deductiontax write -off
rental fee can go up anytimehouse expensie will not go up
not free to make changesyou can make physical changes as you please
you can be evictedhome value increases over time
temporaryyour home for as long as you want

Am I Ready to Buy?

Readines when it comes to buying a home takes more than just money. There are other factors involved – factors not involoving money but can be as important. People make decisions not just based on financial issues but on other things as well like your personality, abilities and values.

Probably one of the most important consideration you’ll have is the environment. What kind of place or neighborhood do I want to live in?

  • City Versus Suburbs

    Your personality influences your choice of where to live. Do you want to live in a quite neighborhood? Or do you prefer livnig in a busy city? Are you looking for a place near malls, the night life or are you looking for a place away from all these? Do you want to live within walking distance from your office or your children’s school? or you prefer to take the subway or ride the train? The environment you choose, spells the quality of life you will have. If your preferences go with properties that are too mch for your budget, consider these options: postpone buying a house until you can afford your dream house in your ideal neighborhood or pursue having your own home now and just compromise on your preferences?

  • Amenities Versus Customization

    If you buy a home with amenities like a tennis court, basketball court, gym, olympic-sized swimming pool, you’ll be paying a lot for it. Your mortgage rate will be very expensive compared to renting a house with these amenities. There are many apartments in cities that have these amenities available but you don’t have to pay as much. Another option you could consider is to find an affordable house and just customize it according to your preference.

  • Flexibility Versus Stability

    Renting allows you to leave anytime without much ado. Of course there is a contract but the problem can be fixed by paying up to what is agreed. But as a homeowner, if you want to move, you’ll need to face the hassle of selling your house and finding a good buyer. And while you are waiting for a buyer, you need to continue paying your mortgage and keep the house well-maintained. This process will take months or even years. Unless money is not an issue and you could afford to move without having to sell your old house. However as a tenenant, there is always the possibility that your landlord will raise your rental fee or ask you to move anytime even when you don’t plan to move anytime soon. As a homeowner, you can live in your house for as long as you want.

  • Personalized Aesthetics Versus Less Work

    Owning a house gives you the freedom to customize the look of the house according to your liking. But this privilege also comes with the responsibility of takiing care of maintenance and repairs. If you think you are not the type to spend time and effort into fixing a leaky faucet or cutting grass, you might not be ready to own a home yet. Unless you can afford to simply pay someone to take care of this for you.

    A tenant on the other hand, does not have control over the aestheitcs of the place but you also have liberty from dealing with maintenance or damages from poor construction. What you can do though is change the furniture and interior decorations to suit your liking. If there is a leaky faucet, just call your landlord.

  • Emotional Satisfaction Versus Less Worry

    Having your very own home is considered the “American dream”. This means growing roots and being involved in the community. If you’re the kind of person who only wants a place to stay and is out most of the time, renting may be a better choice for you.

Deliberating about your readiness to own a home is something that only you can answer. What you can afford to buy can be done by online calculators but when it comes to intangible things like your personality, values and priorities can only be determined by you. Take time to think about considerations listed above before you make any decision regarding home ownership.

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