Buying Tips

New Home Buyer Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on by Lisa Barton

When buyers find their dream home they get both excited and overwhelmed by the buying process. Whether you are a First Time Home Buyer or an experienced executive there are a few important things to keep in mind when purchasing your new home:

Do’s

  • Create a long-term budget. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a $100,000 starter home or a $1,000,000 beachfront property – know your limits and financial obligations before you engage in the buying process. Talk to a Mortgage Broker to get  pre-approved. Talk to your Financial Advisor to set goals and make sure you are making the right investment before you jump in.
  • Be sure you have already saved your earnest money or down payment and have it in your bank account. You can’t pull it out of a sock!! If it is going to be a gift from someone you lender will need to know in advance. 
  • Get all your assets in the one place. Once you get approved for a mortgage and have a contract in place it is not the time to move monies around in accounts, make large unexplained deposits or move around stocks or investment dollars.  Get things lined up before you begin the process. 
  • Once you have a contract in place go “credit quiet”. Our mortgage expert says that means that things go in a hold position. Do not incur any new credit. Period.

Don’ts

  • It is easy to get excited and want to go crazy getting ready for the new house – resist the urge to Buy! Buy! Buy! Do not order new furniture and create a credit account at a furniture store. Do not order custom blinds and drapes and open a credit card before closing. These are all important details to remember because they can affect your ability to borrow for the mortgage and receive the final approval that you need for closing day.
  • DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB!!! Might sound silly but it is imperative to stay in the current position you were when you were approved. If you make an application for a mortgage, and use supporting income from your existing employment, you will need to be actively employed in the position on the day of closing. Some mortgage companies will even verify employment shortly before closing. 
  • Don’t go buy a new vehicle! If you go finance that new truck or luxury vehicle between the signing of the contract and closing day it could have serious consequences on your borrowing capabilities. You can pick your new vehicle out but don’t arrange finance until after your close. Leave the car in the show room until then!
  • Don’t apply for new credit cards! No retail store cards, no Visa, no Mastercard, no Discovery….you get the picture?  See above Dos – go “credit quiet”.

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Holiday Home Sales in Jacksonville

Posted on by Lisa Barton

I had a wonderful experience this Friday morning talking with Nikki Kimbleton with Jacksonville's Channel 4 News. The TV station asked me to discuss about how the recent hike in interest rates might effect potential home buyers' ability to make a new home purchase. We also talked about whether or not it's a good idea to search for a new home during the holidays. Here are some of our main talking points:

  • When the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, those changes don’t usually effect mortgage rates immediately. And, interest rates are only one factor in people’s decision to buy a home — many other factors are important too. 
  • The changes in interest rates might effect adjustable rate loans (APR) right away if those loans are scheduled to re-set.
  • Interest rates for mortgages are anticipated to creep up slightly in 2016 and 2017, but remain remarkably low when you consider the big picture. Rates haven’t increased in over 10 years — so we actually have a whole generation of home buyers who are accustomed to really, really low mortgage rates. 

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Harbour Island Estate Home - Great Media Coverage

Posted on by Lisa Barton

One of our most favorite listings, 185 Admirals Way, is on the cover of the Florida Times Union's Home section this week. This amazing house warrants the special media attention. There is no other luxury waterfront home on the market that compares in Marsh Landing or anywhere else in Northeast Florida! This house is truly one of a kind.

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Should You Buy a Home During the Holidays?

Posted on by Lisa Barton

For some people, the holiday season is about home decorating, entertaining and exchanging gifts. But for others, the end of the year is the time to move and search for a new home. Should you go house hunting in December? Here are some of the pros and cons:  

Pro: 

Homeowners who decide to sell during the holidays are serious and usually very interested in REALLY selling. 

Con:

Inventory is usually low since most sellers would rather avoid putting their house on the market during the busy holiday season. If you can’t find the home you desire, ask your real estate agent to tap into homes that are not yet listed. Also, Brokers can investigate “old expires” which are homes that are no longer active, but had been on the market earlier for an extended period of time and didn’t sell.

Pro:

The holidays are busy for everyone, even real estate professionals. Many Realtors continue working through the end of the year, so talk to your Realtor ahead of time so you can coordinate your house hunting schedule.

Con:

Since the holidays are so busy, you may need to be flexible and work around homeowner's schedules.

Pro:

Interest rates are still incredibly low and are expected to rise next year. You can take advantage of these low interest rates by applying for a mortgage before the end of the year. 

Con:

Closings may take slightly longer since banks and title companies don’t work on holidays. This is especially important with the new requirements for mortgage time lines. Make sure you plan accordingly. 

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How Important is a Termite Inspection before Purchasing a Home?

Posted on by Lisa Barton

We all know that buying a house is one of the most important financial decisions we’ll ever make. Most people consider important factors such as: price, location, school district, the condition of the appliances, and the size/condition of the yard. But how many of us think of the past presence or future presence of termites, the uninvited guests? Although, termites are small and almost invisible they can cause extensive damage to your home by feeding on your walls, foundation, wood siding, cabinets, floors, ceilings, wooden furniture, etc. 

According to recent studies, termites are active in 49 of the 50 states and cause more than $50 billion dollars in property damage every year. In Florida, with our wet weather, termites are an enormous problem. All types of home construction can be susceptible to termite damage, not just wood frame homes. The most commonly found termites are Subterranean Termites who travel in swarms in the spring. Subterranean Termites build underground tunnels which may eventually give them access to your property. Another, less common type of termite, the Dry Wood Termite, lives within the wood they consume and often infest walls and furniture.

Several of the companies that handle termite inspections and extermination tell our potential home buyers, “it’s not if but when.”  And since subterranean termites eat wood from the inside out, it is very hard to see evidence of their presence until the infestation is pretty far along. Often times it takes an expert to reveal the problem and recommend the best course of action. The signs of termite activity could be from a previous infestation but a qualified termite exterminator will recognize the difference between current or past activity and provide a guarantee or written statement to that effect. We recommend all new home buyers schedule a WDO (wood destroying organism inspection) and if the home has been previously treated for termites, we ask the seller to provide documentation of the termite treatment and any structural repairs that were made to fix the termite damage. 

There are many different treatment options available to prevent termite infestation. Ususally the company that provides the termite treatment will visit the property on a regular basis to monitor and make sure there's no new termite activity. Many extermination companies will issue a repair bond once they've treated a home. 

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Why Use a Real Estate Agent?

Posted on by Lisa Barton

Buying a home can be one of the largest financial decisions you’ll ever make. It can also be one of the most rewarding! By working with a licensed real estate agent, some of the complexity and uncertainty of the process can be eliminated. Real estate agents are dedicated to making the transition to home ownership a smooth process.

Benefits of a Real Estate Agent

  • A good real estate agent can help you:
  • Determine your buying power.
  • Establish what you want in a home so that you can find the house that best suits your needs.
  • Search available databases for matches to your needs.
  • Set up appointments to view desired properties.
  • Help find qualified, responsible professionals for inspections, title insurance, etc. 

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Odoms Mill Home for Sale Open House this Sunday

Posted on by Lisa Barton

Looking for something to do this Sunday? Stop by our Open House at 400 Big Tree Road -- we'd love to see you! This lovely home for sale in Odoms Mill has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a beautiful pool and spa. This house in Odoms Mill is situated on a corner lot with a fenced yard and water views. We'll have the house open for previewing from 11:00-1:00. 

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