George P. Goulas - KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY | 508-509-3833 | G@AllworthRealty.com


Posted by George P. Goulas on 10/10/2018

There are countless reasons a homeowner might want to sell their home and buy another. Some want to move for a change of scenery or to relocate for work. Others are parents with a recently empty nest who want to downsize to something more affordable that meets their needs.

The good news for second time homebuyers is that you already have an idea of what to expect when buying a home. The research, paperwork, disappointments, and delays that come with buying a home can all be prepared for. However, if you have the burden of selling your old home, finding a temporary place to live, and then moving into a new one, your responsibilities can be doubled or tripled.

In this guide, we’ll go over how to prepare for selling your old home and moving into the new one. We’ll cover some common mistakes and offer some advice to keep you sane throughout this daunting (but exciting!) process.

Buying or selling first

For most homeowners, selling first makes the most sense financially. Holding onto a second house often means having to make two mortgage payments at once. Similarly, selling first will give you a much clearer idea of your budget for your new home.

Depending on market conditions, your home may or may not sell for as much as you were hoping. It’s important to keep this in mind before signing onto a new mortgage.

Moving logistics

Once you sell your home, you’ll have to work out living and storage arrangements until you are ready to move into your new home. It may seem easy at first--just rent for a couple months until your move-in date, right? It isn’t always that simple, however, as deals can sometimes fall through and you can find yourself with a move-out date from your own home without having finalized a deal on your new home. Because of this, many homeowners elect to may their current mortgage for an extra month or two until they can move in to their new home. 

Research your options for short-term living and storage in your area. See if you can work with moving companies who will give you a discount for helping you move twice; once to the storage facility and again to your new home.

One way around this is to time your move out and move-in dates so that you don’t have to worry about storage. Some homebuyers will even move into the new home before officially closing on the home (i.e., take possession before closing). While this may be convenient, it can also be dangerous for the buyer and the seller.

Plan meticulously

One of the best piece of advice we can give is to stick to your schedule and keep good records during your buying and selling processes. Make sure whoever buys your home is aware of your plans for moving out and that anything that could delay those plans (inspection issues, moving logistics) are taken care of.  

Keeping track of all this information can be difficult, so don’t be afraid to keep a daily list or planner of the things you need to take care of, and never be afraid to reach out to your real estate agent who will often be able to advise you on the best way to make your move as smooth a process as possible.





Posted by George P. Goulas on 10/3/2018

Sometimes, being in the hunt for a home feels like being in a race you can’t win. You should craft an offer that they cant refuse in order to get ahead on the house hunt. The real estate market can be hot or cold. No matter what the market is like, having a solid offer can be very beneficial to you as a buyer. Here’s some tips for you to get the offer you make accepted:


Get Preapproved


When you get preapproved, you’re showing the seller that you’re a serious buyer. Being preapproved gives you a shorter closing time and helps you to clear any financing hurdles before you get to them.


Avoid Lowball Offers


Make sure that you check out the prices of other homes in the neighborhood. Your real estate agent can help you to do this research. Often, you’ll need to offer the asking price or above if it’s a seller’s market. If all the research leads you to offer somewhere in the neighborhood of the asking price for a home, you’ll want to abide with that.


Too Many Contingencies Turn A Seller Off


The financing contingency is the agreement that is put forth to help a buyer get out of the deal if financing falls through. You’ll need to be sure that you actually have the cash on hand to help you if the appraisal falls short, however. While this isn’t recommended, it can give you a leg up in the buying process if you know what you’re doing. 

Another thing that you might consider is waiving the inspection. This does however, remove the ability to be sure that a home is in livable condition. This is another way to give yourself an advantage in the home search process, but it’s not recommended. A better way to keep the inspection and streamline the process is to shorten the inspection time by having the inspector ready to go immediately.  


Add A Clause To Increase Your Amount


You are able to add an escalation clause into a deal. This will automatically increase your deal by a predetermined amount if the seller gets more than one offer on the home. There’s a cap on these deals, so it doesn’t work like an auction. It’s a good option and it causes sellers to have to disclose the competing offers. Typically, this wouldn’t be the case. The only way you’d be out of the deal is if other offers exceed your cap.


Be Smart With Negotiations


You can offer to pay closing costs and home warranties instead of the seller having to pay them. Costs associated with the closing can be extensive, so offering to pay these fees can be very appealing to the seller. 


Get Personal


It’s difficult for sellers to part with the home that they love. If you get a bit personal and write a letter or send a video message to the sellers, you may often appeal to them on another level. In the letter, you may want to address how well the sellers have taken care of the home and express your desire to continue your life in the home in the same fashion. Many times, this is really a great way to connect with your seller and give you a better chance of getting your offer accepted.




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Posted by George P. Goulas on 9/19/2018

The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.

The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.

If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:

Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?

The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.

Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?

Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.

How does the USDA loan guarantee work?

When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.

Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?

Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.

What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?

To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:

  • U.S. citizenship

  • Buying a home in a qualifying area

  • 24 months of income history

  • A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing

  • Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings

What is the direct loan program?

The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.







Posted by George P. Goulas on 9/12/2018

Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. There’s no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If you’re a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--you’re already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. We’ll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.

Saving for a home

One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when you’re living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.

The hunt for your first home

Now that you’re aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before they’ve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, you’ll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.

Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home you’re considering. Showing initiative and dedication won’t just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.

Mortgage mistakes

One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.

Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they don’t realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.

If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.




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Posted by George P. Goulas on 8/8/2018

Home appraisals are an important part of the buying and selling process. Lenders use appraisals to make sure that the home is worth what the borrower is paying. A home’s appraisal value is based on a number of factors, all of which we’ll discuss in this post.

Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or are just learning about the process of buying a home so you’ll be better equipped in the future, this article is for you.

How is a home appraisal different from an inspection?

While home appraisals and inspections are performed by licensed or certified professionals, they have to different functions. An inspection ensures the safety of a home, as well as whether or not it will need repairs in the immediate or near future.

Appraisals, on the other hand, aim to value a home based on its property value, the size of the property, and the location of the property. The condition of the home is a factor in valuing a home, which is why some people confused appraisals with inspections.

Who pays for appraisals?

Like most closing costs, a home appraisal is a burden that falls on the buyer. Typically, the lender you choose will work with will actually order the appraisal. The cost, which usually amounts to a few hundred dollars, can be added to your closing fees. You can find the cost for an appraisal listed on the Closing Disclosure document provided by your chosen lender.

Which factors determine the home’s value?

To appraise the house itself, appraisers will look at the condition of the home. They’ll also weigh the features of the home in their valuation--things like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, for example.

However, the two key characteristics of a home that contribute to its value are its age and size.

Which external factors contribute to the home’s value?

As you might suspect, the location of your home matters greatly when it comes to appraisals. Homes are appraised based off of average prices for their neighborhood and region.

Other location factors include how accessible the home is, if it’s located on a waterfront, and whether it has desirable views.

When does a home get appraised?

While your experience may vary based on your specific circumstances, most appraisals occur after a buyer has signed a purchase contract. One this is done, the lender will take the steps necessary to order and process the appraisal.

How long is the home appraisal process?

Once the buyer has signed a purchase contract, the appraisal is usually completed and processed within 7 days. The appraisal report will be sent to the lender. This report contains the appraised value of the home. Buyers are entitled to a copy of this report, and should keep one for their own records.




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