Buying a Home

Expert Insights: How Do I Find Government-Repossessed Properties?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker’s commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA-guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.

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Luxury Condo Amenities: Which Are Worth It?

When you purchase a condominium unit, part of your monthly carrying costs will include condo fees. These can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on your building’s features, the number of units and the square footage of your unit. They cover elements like maintenance of common areas, including any amenities. The type of amenities your building has will greatly influence the price of condo fees, so it’s not uncommon for buyers to weigh which luxury amenities they need and which they can do without. Here’s a breakdown:

Pool or Hot Tub
Without a doubt, pools and hot tubs definitely drive up condo fees due to the constant maintenance they need. However, for many renters looking for a luxury property, a pool and hot tub are non-negotiable parts...

Pros and Cons of Choosing a House on a Cul-de-Sac

Many homebuyers choose to avoid a busy street and instead purchase a house on a cul-de-sac. Some people pay significantly more for a home on a dead-end street than they would for a comparable house on a road with more traffic. While a cul-de-sac has characteristics that may appeal to some homeowners, these same characteristics may frustrate others.

Traffic
Since there is only one way in and out, a cul-de-sac has less traffic than a typical street. Congestion can be an issue if several people leave for work at the same time in the morning. Delivery trucks, garbage trucks, repair trucks and firetrucks may have trouble maneuvering, which could lead to traffic jams. If a storm knocks down tree limbs or electrical wires and the road is blocked, you and your neighbors could be trapped until workers arrive to deal with...

When to Consider Rent-to-Own

While rent-to-own isn’t something you hear about too often, it’s still an option here in Canada. And with the market being as hot as it is in major cities around the country, it might be an option you’d like to consider.

What is it? 
Rent-to-own is when you sign both a lease agreement and an option to purchase agreement with the landlord. It’s usually used when someone has bad credit or lacks the funds for a down payment and therefore can’t yet secure a mortgage but would like to begin contributing toward the goal of homeownership. The lease will lay out typical things a rental lease covers, while the option to purchase will cover the details such as what the purchase price of the home will be and when it will be available for the tenant to purchase.

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Why You Should Talk to Neighbors Before Deciding to Buy a House

If you’ve fallen in love with a house, you shouldn’t make an offer right away. There could be important information that the real estate agent doesn’t know or isn’t legally allowed to disclose, but you could get a fuller picture by talking to other people: the neighbors. They will likely give you the unvarnished truth, and some of the things they say might cause you to pass on what you thought was your dream home.

How to Talk to Neighbors
If you see people outside while you’re in the neighborhood, simply introduce yourself, tell them you’re thinking about buying a house on the street and ask if they’d mind answering a few questions. This may feel awkward or intimidating, but people are often surprisingly forthcoming....

How to Qualify for a Mortgage After Declaring Bankruptcy

Many people have debts that they are unable to repay. Sometimes, this is a result of overspending. In many cases, it occurs because of a job loss, an illness or injury that makes it impossible to work, or a divorce. When people are buried in debt, bankruptcy may seem like the only viable solution.

Bankruptcy does not need to cloud your finances forever. With some hard work and patience, you may even be able to realize your dream of owning a home. Here are some strategies to improve your situation and qualify for a mortgage.

Steps to Take
The first thing you need to do is to have the bankruptcy discharged. If you are still in the process of filing for bankruptcy or working with a credit counselor, you will not be able to qualify for a mortgage.

After your bankruptcy has been discharged, request copies...

Why You Should Never Buy a House Without Having It Inspected

A house is a major financial investment and a place where you will likely live for several years. If you are shopping for a new home, you need to do your homework and choose carefully. You should gather as much information as possible so you can make an educated decision.

A home inspection is a critical step that you should never skip if you are thinking about purchasing a home. Even if a house looks perfect, it could have hidden damages that are not visible and could require costly repairs or even put your family’s health at risk.

Areas That Should Be Inspected
A certified home inspector is someone who is trained to identify problems with a house. A general inspection will look at visible aspects of a house, including the structure, plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, and heating and air conditioning...

Extra Costs That Surprise First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve found the perfect first home, and you’re anxious to close the deal, grab the keys and move in right away. However, be aware that there are a host of extra costs beyond a down payment and mortgage bills that often take first-time homebuyers by surprise. To avoid shock and prepare your budget, consider the following costs before signing on the dotted line:

Home Inspection
To approve a purchase, a mortgage lender might require an assessment by a professional home inspector. Regardless, you should consider one to ensure you’re buying a house that’s in good shape and to avoid any expensive surprises. A general inspection typically costs a few hundred dollars and checks for electrical issues, fire and water damage, and faulty foundations. Consider paying extra for a termite inspection...

Costs to Estimate Before Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a house that needs some work and turning it from a fixer-upper into a home can be daunting. A lot of effort is ahead, requiring potential buyers to determine their skills, budget and schedule to get the job done.

Here are some ways to determine the true costs of a fixer-upper:

Start With a List
Either by yourself or with a contractor or home inspector by your side, go through the house room by room and write down what needs fixing. Many problems won’t be visible to the naked eye, so a professional inspector can help by testing if there are hazards such as mold, radon or lead paint.

The inspector should also look for possible structural problems. These can include foundation damage, major plumbing or electrical problems, an inefficient HVAC system, termite damage and a damaged roof. Any...

How to Make Sure You Buy a House With Enough Storage Space

One of the most common regrets cited among homeowners is buying a house without enough storage space. The typical family has a lot of stuff—so much that many people pay monthly fees to rent storage units. And those costs can quickly add up. If you’re planning to buy a house, take a careful look at the amount of storage space it offers and ask yourself if it really is enough for your family. Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent for the dimensions of closets, or take measurements yourself.

Bedrooms
Bedroom closets can quickly become packed to the point of overflowing, especially if they’re shared by two spouses or siblings. When you view houses, note the sizes of the closets, whether there’s enough room to hang clothes, whether there are shelves or whether there’s space to add them. If the bedrooms...