Upfront Costs in Purchasing a Home

Money, money, money! When you first start the home buying process, a big concern can be the money and cashflow that you’ll need to pay upfront once you have an accepted contract. Payments can start adding up, so I always try to make sure that my buyers are aware of what checks they’ll be cutting from the beginning once their contract is accepted.

While closing costs are a big concern to buyers, those don’t really come to fruition until closing day (end of the deal). When it comes to upfront costs, you’re top costs will include your Option Period Fee, Earnest Money and paying for your Inspection. I’ve pulled the ranges and explanations for each below.

UPFRONT COSTS IN PURCHASING A HOME

Termination Option Fee: Typically ~$100

Your Termination Option OR Option Period is typically a time frame of 7-10 days where you complete your inspections, come in and get quotes/estimates on any repairs you’re needing and ensure that you’re ready to move forward on purchasing the home. This period starts the next day after the contract is executed.

The Termination Option Fee protects your Earnest Money so that if you back out of the contract within your 7 to 10 day period due to the seller not agreeing to repair certain items or the home not being quite up to par, you would get your Earnest Money back. After the 7 to 10 day Termination Option Period, your property will go UNDER CONTRACT.

This fee is written out the seller of the home as they’re giving you this time frame to complete any inspections, etc. You do not have to complete an inspection or have a Termination Option Period, but it is always recommended.  Your Termination Option Fee CAN BE credited to your closing and negotiated on price point and day period.

Earnest Money: 1% of home purchase price

Typically, your Earnest Money is 1% of the overall price of the home. For example, if you purchase a home for $200,000 then your Earnest Money check will be $2,000. That is 1% of the purchase price. Is the 1% fee negotiable? Yes! But the Earnest Money is seen as good faith that you’re ready to rock and roll as a buyer so most buyers and sellers stick to using the traditional 1% number. If you’re in a bidding war, you may put down more in Earnest Money. It all depends on the buyer and the seller.

This fee is written out to the title company that is handling this transaction. Your Earnest Money IS credited at closing to your costs and can be negotiated.

Inspection Fee:  Truly varies on square footage of home/company – ~$360-$600

Is this a required fee? Not necessarily, but some lenders do require an inspection and I ALWAYS recommend my buyers order one so that they know the ins and outs of the home from a licensed professional. The fee ranges by the company you use and the square footage of the home. The bigger the home, the higher the cost. In my opinion, this cost is WORTH IT! 

This fee is paid directly to the inspector or inspection company. This IS NOT credited to your closing and if you back out of the contract you will not receive a refund for the fee. Inspections are there to give you piece of mind and know what’s going on from plumbing to foundation to electricity. It’s beneficial on ALL fronts!

 

While there are some other upfront costs in purchasing a home, these are the main costs after you receive and accepted offer on a property. These are all fee to expect and later on pull money for your downpayment, lender (appraisal, etc.) and closing costs. This is used to help guide you at the very beginning stages after a contract is accepted.

Don’t Forget: Applying for your Homestead Exemption

Cheers to the New Year, y’all! It’s a time for resolutions, exciting new things and time too apply for your Homestead Exemption for your primary residence. Did you buy a home in 2018? Then you don’t want to forget to apply for your Homestead Exemption. It’s actually a super simple process, but I’m here to help you through it! Let’s break down this whole Homestead Exemption thing…

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Homestead Exemption

/ˈhōmˌsted ex·emp·tion/
noun
According to the Texas Comptroller, a homestead can separate structure, condominium or a manufactured home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual living in the home owns it. A homestead can include up to 20 acres, if the land is owned by the homeowner and used for a purpose related to the residential use of the homestead. You can apply for a homestead exemption on your main residence to lower your taxes.

Who qualifies for a Homestead Exemption?

Requirements to receive the exemption:

  1. Must own the property on January 1 of the year you are applying. January 1 is not required if you’re over 65 and/or disabled. 
  2. Must reside at your home as primary residence.
  3. Must be individual homeowner, not entities or corporation.
  4. Can be house, manufactured home or mobile home. Can include up to 20 acres if land is used as yard and owned by homeowner.
  5. Must apply between January 1 and April 30 for year you intend to use exemption.

How to apply?

  1. Find and complete APPLICATION FOR RESIDENTIAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION.
  2. Include copy of Driver’s License or identification Card. Address on the cards must match the homestead address.

Remember, this can ONLY be used on your primary residence. Not investment properties, not land. The best resource to use when applying for your Homestead Exemption is your local county appraisal district’s office/website or the Texas Comptroller.

File today and get that tax break!

 

Sneak Peak: Best of Black Friday Sales for Homeowners

Here’s my confession: Black Friday shopping SCARES me!! I have never been into Black Friday shopping. It’s overwhelms me with all of the people hustling and bustling everywhere I’m more of a Cyber Monday gal. But, I can’t blame people for loving Black Friday! With all of the deals you can get on clothes, household items and more, I see the appealing side of the ‘holiday’.

This year, I am excited to be participating in Black Friday to help find the perfect gift for homeowners. From vacuums to TVs, air fryers and more, you really can’t pass up the deals. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a family member or a friend, here are some great finds for the homeowner in mind!

Wordpress Featured Image- Black Friday


|| TARGET ||

Target, or as I like to call it Tarjay, has some deals rolling through for Black Friday. I’ve found the perfect finds for your extended stay guests, technology gadgets to help you save on your monthly energy bill, and other home life-saving applicances! You can save $60 on a Serta Air Mattress for those last minute visitors and a 50% off THIS blow dryer for the guest bath. Show off your GREEN side by being energy efficient with the NEST Thermostat that’s $70 off the original price. Now the best find, in my opinion, is the KitchenAid mixer. I LOVE MINE. This is the bigger mixer – meaning more cookies and sweets can be made! Can’t beat getting a 5 Quart KitchenAid for a whopping $230 off sticker! Also a big fan of the $20 savings on the AirFryer.

Last, but certainly not least, is the kitchen appliance on my wish list: The Ninja Professional 1200W Kitchen System. It’s basically a four-in-one machine. All of the attachments can be used for making my yummy oreo balls, to a quick protein shake, or even margaritas. Done and DONE!

Target’s Black Friday shopping begins on Thanksgiving Day at 5PM and doors close at 1AM. They reopen at 7AM on Friday.

Serta 16  GUEST_93a7a6cf-aae3-48cf-9874-a8ba31d1d444  GUEST_bc122e75-f97d-4715-8635-cbe21b13ed82  GUEST_c9b74774-628c-48bc-8c6c-82c537c3c59c  GUEST_55b87cbe-a889-476b-b45d-e93abd41db53  AirFryer

 


|| SAM’S CLUB ||

Savings in BULK! Sam’s Club already has some of the lowest prices around, but Black Friday is where it’s at. At our house we LIVE FOR their towels and pillows. They’re basically luxe hotel quality and they’re CHEAP! Their 2018 Black Friday savings catalog has basically everything needed for any home gift.

Some of the savings I’m most excited about are the iRobot Roomba ($100 off), Arlo Pro Home Security System ($249.00), Jumbo-Sized Bamboo Pillows ($10.98) and Samsung 75″ TV with Xbox One X ($1,279.00). Walmart also has an Arlo 3-Pack for less, but it’s not the Arlo Pro, so it’s all about personal preference! Back to the pillows… I have these and one of my dearest friends has them and they’re like sleeping on a cloud! GET THEM!!

Sam’s Club Black Friday shopping begins online on Thanksgiving Day and their doors will open at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.

iRobot Roomba e5 5134 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum  Arlo Pro Wire-Free HD Camera Security System (2-Camera Kit)  Samsung 75   Bamboo-Polyfill Pillows, Jumbo (2-pack)


|| WALMART ||

I look at Walmart as the HEAD HONCHO of Black Friday. That place is cray cray when Thanksgiving Day hits! To keep the search simple, here’s what I have my eye on for the Walmart Black Friday sale:

  • Instant Pot: BEST FIND! Here’s to making cooking easy! We love our Instant Pot and the quickness and ease it brings to our lives when making quick dinner. Walmart is selling the Instant Pot 8 Quart for $59 which is ~$40 less than what it would normally cost. PSSSST… $10 cheaper than Target!
  • SAMSUNG Smart TVS: I have one and LOVE IT! It’s so nice to use ONE remote for all of my Netflix, Hulu or Cable TV needs. Walmart is running deals on the 55″ and 60″ Smart TVs that will be hard to beat.
  • Roku: Don’t have a Smart TV? Don’t worry! There are two Roku deals – Roku Ultra for all you heavy, high definition, streamers (saving $51) and the Roku SE, still a high definition stream, ($20). These can easily be hooked up to your TV through the HDMI port and you can watch shows, movies or videos from all your favorite apps. My family loves theirs! Again, better deals than Target!
  • Arlo Security Cameras: This is my best find! A couple of different stores (Sam’s Club, etc.) are running deals on the Arlo Camera Systems, but Walmart has the BEST deal with a 3 camera bundle system; other stores are only including 2 cameras. My parents have these and LOVE THEM! They’re wireless and you can check the cameras from your phone on an app wherever you are; you can even set up alerts when there’s movement near the camera. Sam’s Club is selling the Arlo Pro which is different from just the Arlo.
  • Vacuums: We all could use a nice, new vacuum! From what I’ve seen, Walmart has some of the best and lowest Black Friday prices around. They have the Dyson vacuum at $159 for Black Friday. What a deal!

The Walmart Light Up Black Friday event begins on Thursday, Nov. 22 at 6PM in stores and Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 9PM CT online. 

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|| AMAZON||

Loud and proud Amazon Prime Member over here! Love that I can get quick shipping on just about anything and can find everything. Amazon is a little heavier on the Cyber Monday train, but they’re still throwing in some great deals on Black Friday.

So what does Amazon have to add to your home, you may ask? Well, the Ring Video Doorbell (saving $60) is a great start. Safety at it’s finest. I’m a scaredy cat when people are ringing on my door (even if it’s just the mailman), so it’s nice to see who is at your doorstep whether you’re home or away. They will also have all of their Echo products at a discount and their new Echo Plus reduced by $40. Other savings included are up to 35% off on mattresses, furniture and area rugs and up to 40% on select coffee makers.

Ring Video Doorbell 2  All-new Echo Plus (2nd Gen) - Premium sound with built-in smart home hub - Charcoal


|| BEST BUY||

Here’s where I look for all of the tech goodies and there are lots in the Best Buy Black Friday sale. What are you going to find? LOTS! Similar to Amazon, Best Buy has the Ring Video Doorbell 2 priced the same BUT they’re including an Echo with purchase…. so WIN WIN! This is also the hot spot for TVs on Black Friday. All brands, all sizes and big discounts! Samsung has great Smart TV options with savings of $200-300.

Let us not forget about the bigger appliances, too! From refrigerators to washer/dryer combos, this is the time to make the big splurge on those big items. There are  savings of up to $700 on the refrigerator and ~$250 on the washers and dryers along with a FREE Samsung POWERbot Vacuum (valued at $499.99) with the purchase!

Doors open on Thursday at 5PM for the Best Buy Black Friday Sale.

Ring Video Doorbell 2  6199827_sd.jpg;maxHeight=640;maxWidth=550  5580242_sd.jpg;maxHeight=640;maxWidth=550 Samsung - 4.5 Cu. Ft. 8-Cycle Front-Loading Washer - Fingerprint Resistant Black Stainless Steel


**Please note that the links will not show the discounted pricing until Thanksgiving Day!

Happy shopping! Would love to know what you’re shopping for or have your eye on this Black Friday! Share your finds!

Looking to buy a property? 5 Things to Do Before You Call A Real Estate Agent

Is buying a new property or home on your horizon? It’s the most exciting, stressful time and likely the biggest purchase of your life! There’s no doubt that the whole process of buying a home or property can be overwhelming. Luckily, real estate agents and brokers provide local expertise and are a great resource to help you find exactly what you are looking for.

Select an agent with the right credentials for your buy. While you may want to immediately pick up the phone and call me to help find your DREAM HOME, there is some groundwork that can be accomplished beforehand. Here are five things that you can do before calling a real estate agent:                                               

1. Get pre-qualified for your loan.

Hands down, this should be your first step as it is the most important! Getting pre-qualified means that a lender (your bank) has looked closely at employment history, credit reports, income, etc. The lender will then determine loan programs that you qualify for and find what works best for your financial situation. Basically, you can’t go spending more than your credit limit will let you!

Going through the pre-qualification process helps your real estate agent find a property that is in your price range. Most of the time clients get very eager and want to look at homes before speaking with a lender or bank, but I prefer not to show them homes without knowing their limits. You can really sour the house hunting process by showing a home out of a client’s price range, letting them fall in love, only to realize that they can’t afford it. Getting pre-qualified can be as simple as a phone call so it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. I do highly recommend meeting with the lender in person just to make the initial connection and help build a relationship.

If you don’t know where to start or who to call to get qualified, I can guide you in the right direction to help find a mortgage lender or bank that fits your needs.

2. Know the area that you want to purchase.

When it comes down to it, you need to know the location or area of where you plan to purchase a property. This decision can come down to the school districts, access to hospitals, or dining. Determining the location of the property helps the real estate agent zero in on where the buyer is focused on living or investing and eliminates questions about other locations. Real estate agents have great programs in the MLS systems that allow us to map out or search specifically by district.

Knowing the location you want to purchase a property in may take some time. I always recommend that my clients take a cruise in the areas they’re leaning toward in the morning and evening. It really helps you get a feel of the neighborhood. Wanting a neighborhood perfect for a growing family? Take a look and see if there are kids playing basketball outside or families going for walks in the evening. Looking for something quiet like a retirement community? Do a night drive by to see if the nightlife is popping in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. These little cruises can really cut down the house-hunting search. There’s nothing worse than when a real estate agent takes a client to a home they requested to see and the client pulling up and not even wanting to look inside the home (that you made clients leave so you could show) because they’re not a fan of the neighborhood. Yes, your agent is there and happy to help you in the elimination process, but help them out too!

3. Study the market.

Look at the economic situation that surrounds you. Research the market for homes in the area where you want to purchase. While a real estate agent can share the length of time homes have been on the market and estimated closing costs, research done ahead of time gives buyers expectations of costs in the location area of where they want to purchase a property. It can also help you see when the competitive times are in the market (typically in the spring/summer).

4. Know the usage of the property that you plan to purchase.

Typically, I’m searching for residential or luxury homes for my clients. So while is seems like an obvious answer that most clients want a subdivision, your real estate agent needs a little more information than that. Clarifying the usage of the property can narrow down the selection to more ‘prime’ choices. Do you want a minimum of five acres so you have room to breathe? Do you want a property where the Home Owner’s Association (HOA) takes care of the lawn? These little tid bits of information can really help narrow it down for your agent’s search.

Another potential deterrent can be deed restrictions on some properties. Some clients want to build a shop or add a pool to their backyard. Having those deed restrictions let’s you know what you’re allowed to build and add-on in neighborhoods. It can really make or break a decision.

5. Research your real estate agent.

Shopping for a real estate agent can be time-consuming, but knowing that you are using the right person for the type of property you want can help make the buying process a breeze. When looking to purchase a property, look at what your agent has listed or helped buyers purchase in the past. I’ve listed and helped as a buyer’s agent in luxury, residential, waterfront, commercial and other types of properties. Having an agent that has knowledge and a proven background in what you want to buy ensures a smooth process. It also doesn’t hurt to check out an agent’s Zillow or Facebook pages to see what properties and clientele they work with to find the right fit. Reviews can also be useful! But, trust me; I know I can help you find the PERFECT property!

 

Buying a property brings in a roller coaster of emotions. Doing homework ahead of time and keeping expectations clear between the buyer and the real estate agent can make this exciting journey a simpler one. These five simple steps to take care of before calling me to be your real estate agent helps set you, the buyer, up for success when looking for a property. Call Bethany Nolan with Murray Real Estate Services, LLC to get started on your house hunting today!