Can’t Buy a House With Cash? You Can Still Land the Home

All-cash buyers are active in many markets, and they can strike fear in new home buyers. The cash buyer can perform and close quickly and provide sellers with a sense of comfort.

But, does this mean a solid buyer putting down 20 percent or more shouldn’t attempt to compete with the cash buyer? Absolutely not.

What if you can’t buy a house with cash?

The truth is, a buyer getting a mortgage can still compete against a cash buyer and win.

These are the questions that can make the difference:

  • Do you have a 20-percent down payment?
  • Are you well employed?
  • Do you have cash reserves in addition to your down payment?
  • Do you have very little debt?
  • Do you have good credit?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, your purchase should be as bulletproof as a cash buyer’s.

Paying cash for a house doesn’t guarantee a buyer will win over the seller. Well-qualified buyers who put in a little extra effort can seal the deal.

How can you compete against a cash buyer?

  • Be up front about your finances. Make your offer as strong as cash by providing the seller the confidence they need to accept your offer. In addition to a pre-approval letter from your lender, be open to allowing your agent or lender to provide financial information with your offer. Tell them what you make, and how much money you have in the bank. Show bank statements and even a copy of your credit report. Overload the seller to show them that you’re as solid as the cash buyer.
  • Ask your lender to get a head start on the mortgage. See if your mortgage professional can move the process along sooner. Send the lender a copy of the preliminary title report, if available. If you’re buying a condo, find out if a condo questionnaire is available and give it to your lender. If you take any of these steps, let the seller know. Of course, if you have not already, provide the necessary financial documentation to your lender right away.
  • Shorten the loan and appraisal contingencies. Ask your lender how quickly they can send an appraiser to the property, and how long the loan would take to turnaround. In some parts of the country, loans are being approved in less than 14 days – sometimes even 10.
  • Pre-order an appraisal. This may not be as easy with a bigger bank. But smaller banks, direct lenders or mortgage brokers can line up the appraisal in advance. At the time your offer is written, tell the seller the appraisal has already been ordered. If you can get the appraiser out within 24-48 hours of coming to terms with the seller, it’s half the battle.
  • Inspect quickly. Along with the quick appraisal and loan contingencies, get your inspector in and out. Shelling out a few hundred dollars and getting the inspections done within days of having your offer accepted shows the seller you mean business. It also gives them comfort that they’ll get over the biggest hurdle quickly.
  • Overpay. Cash buyers nearly always expect a discount from the seller simply because they’re offering cash and are a sure thing. As a result, the cash buyer will often make a lower offer. To increase your chances, top the cash offer, even if means paying a little more than you think the home is worth. If a seller is faced with a few thousand dollars’ difference, the seller probably wouldn’t risk it. But what if your offer is five percent higher than the cash buyer’s? The seller, perhaps wanting the best of both worlds, may ask the cash buyer to raise his or her offer. Some cash buyers will offer more, but not always enough to match. If you plan to live in the house for many years and it’s the home of your dreams, paying a little more to get the deal might only translate into $20 per month over the course of a long-term mortgage.
  • Make yourself known to the seller. Some buyers write “love letters” to sellers, hoping to appeal to their personal side. Does this work? Sometimes! If you’re competing with a cash buyer, particularly an investor who plans to rent the home out, it can’t hurt to get a little personal. The seller almost always wants to know more about the potential buyer. Ask your agent to write a cover letter and an introduction. Let the seller know who you are, why you like the home and what your intentions are. It usually works.

Do the best you can and be realistic. Make sure your financial “‘house” is in order. Work with a good local real estate agent, and start working with a local mortgage professional well in advance. Structure your offer to show that you’re ready to roll.

For more home-buying tips, check out our Home Buyers Guide.

Related:

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/compete-with-cash-buyer-138674/

Advertisements

U.S. Homeowners Spend $15,000 in Hidden Costs to Sell a House

Selling a home not only takes time, but also costs money. To help with budgeting, Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common – but often overlooked – seller expenses.

From closing costs to home prep projects like carpet cleaning, U.S. homeowners can expect to spend more than $15,000 on these extra or hidden costs to sell the median home, according to Zillow and Thumbtack’s Hidden Costs of Selling Analysis.

Closing costs

The two largest closing costs are agent commissions and, in most states, sales or transfer taxes.

Nationally, sellers spend $12,532 for both closing costs on the median home. Sellers should also prepare for a variety of other smaller closing costs, including title insurance and escrow fees.

Home prep costs

Most sellers will complete at least one home improvement project before listing.

While some sellers prefer to complete these projects themselves, those who outsource can expect to spend more than $2,650 nationally to cover staging, carpet cleaning, interior painting, lawn care and house cleaning – five of the most popular seller home prep projects.

Location, location, location

As with all things real estate, these extra costs can vary significantly by region.

In San Francisco, homeowners can pay more than $55,000 on the median home to cover these combined closing costs and maintenance expenses – the highest among the markets analyzed.

Compare that to Cleveland, OH where home sellers pay just over $10,000 for the same costs.

Estimating profit

Even though selling a home costs money, most (73 percent) of sellers are still satisfied with the transaction, according to the Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.

To estimate potential profit, sellers who have claimed their home on Zillow can use Zillow’s Sale Proceeds Calculator. It factors in the home’s sale price, mortgage balance and agent commissions, along with other common seller fees.

Curious how your metro stacks up for sellers? Here’s a breakdown of the metros analyzed in the report:

Looking for more information about selling your home? Check out our Sellers Guide.

Related:

 

 

 

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/hidden-costs-of-selling-home-215952/

6 Millennial Pink Homes Proving This Color Is Here to Stay

If you’ve never heard of millennial pink, don’t worry – you aren’t that out of the loop. Though the term was coined recently, it’s been popping up for years, and Pantone’s selection of Rose Quartz as one of its 2016 colors of the year was just a preview of the pink craze to come (yes, there’s a hashtag). Stars from Rihanna to Harry Styles have embraced light pink hues, though it’s more about the vibe than a distinct color, and its popularity goes beyond the 20-something crowd.

Millennial pink has put rosy-colored homes on the map as well. While painting a house pink is nothing new – several historic, stucco and adobe homes sport the hue – it’s certainly on trend.

Check out these six homes for some millennial pink inspiration, and see what all the fuss is about.

Key West, FL

914 Grinnell St, Key West, FL

Photo from Zillow listing.

Tropical color schemes are a trademark of Key West design and architecture, as embodied by this delightful revival-style duplex. Bright blue shutters pop against a pale pink exterior with white trim, while the interior bursts with cheerful, vibrant blues, yellows, greens, and – of course – more pink.

Find homes for sale in Key West.

Montpelier, VT

24-26 Loomis St, Montpelier, VT

Photo from Zillow listing.

A former mayor’s home, this restored Victorian is millennial pink inside and out. With a whimsical two-tone pink façade and a few light pink rooms in the interior, the bright paint choice is architecturally on point. “We often see a color similar on Victorian homes throughout Vermont,” explains listing agent David Parsons, “and I believe it has a historical precedence.” Because of an increase in the number of pigments available and a reduction in the cost of paint, brightly colored homes became de rigueur in Victorian New England.

Find homes for sale in Montpelier.

Charleston, SC

18 State St, Charleston, SC 29401

Photo from Zillow listing.

This historic home full of Southern charm proves that millennial pink is nothing new. Built around 1815, the current owners bought the pink house in 2004 and simply repainted it the same color since it worked so well. “There are many pink houses in Charleston, including one on Rainbow Row which is a block away,” explains Adam Edwards, who listed the home for sale last year. “Pink is a longtime popular color because it helps keep the interiors cooler in the hot summer months.” Black shutters and white trim give the house an elegant, refined look.

Find homes for sale in Charleston.

Seattle, WA

920 Federal Ave E, Seattle, WA

Photo from Zillow listing.

For a prime example of a bold millennial pink, check out this 4-bedroom, 3,080-square-foot gem close to all the action in Seattle. The exterior is painted a solid shade of warm, earthy pink called “New Pilgrim Red” and is complemented with off-white woodwork in “Navajo White.” “We had seen that on another Colonial Revival house years ago when we were just about to repaint,” former owners Clint and Elizabeth Miller recall. “It looked dramatic to us and suggested a New England sort of look.”

Find homes for sale in Seattle.

Albuquerque, NM

1323 Narcisco Ct NE, Albuquerque, NM

Photo from Zillow listing.

Stucco exteriors are common in the Southwest because they’re durable and – most importantly, for a desert climate – energy efficient. This pink-hued home shows that stucco doesn’t have to be drab. Here, the pink provides a dose of personality while maintaining a neutral, earthy vibe that meshes with the landscape.

Find homes for sale in Albuquerque.

New Orleans, LA

326 Warrington Dr, New Orleans, LA

Photo from Zillow listing.

New Orleans is no stranger to colorful homes. In fact, this cute, single-story house is subdued in comparison to many in the Big Easy. But that’s part of its appeal – and of the appeal of millennial pink in general. It manages to straddle the divide between playful and refined, youthful and classic.

Find homes for sale in New Orleans.

Originally published July 19, 2017.

Related:

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/millennial-pink-homes-219081/

What Does a Builder’s Warranty Cover?

Even with new homes, things can go wrong. That is why many buyers of newly built homes are interested in warranties, which promise to repair or replace certain elements of the home.

Many home warranties are backed by the builder, while others are purchased by builders from independent companies that assume responsibility for specific claims. In other cases, homeowners purchase coverage from a third-party warranty company to supplement coverage provided by their builder. In fact, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) require builders to purchase a third-party warranty as a way to protect buyers of newly built homes with FHA or VA loans.

The key to any of these warranties is to understand what’s covered, what’s not covered, how to make a claim and the process for resolving disputes that might arise between you and the builder or warranty provider.

Most warranties for newly constructed homes offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials as they relate to components of the home, such as windows, siding, doors, roofs or plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems. Warranties typically provide coverage for one to two years, although the specific time period may vary by from component to component; coverage may last up to a decade on major structural elements. Warranties also routinely define how repairs will be made and by whom.

Warranties generally do not cover household appliances, tile or drywall cracks, irrigation systems or components covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. Most warranties also exclude expenses incurred as a result of a warranty repair construction, such as the need to store household belongings while a repair is being made.

Before you close on your new home purchase, you should ask your builder – or your third-party warranty provider – these questions:

  • What does this warranty cover?
  • What is not covered by this warranty?
  • What’s the process or timeliness if I have a claim?
  • Is it possible for me to dispute your decision to deny a claim?
  • What is the extent of your liability?
  • Can you refer me to other new home owners with whom you’ve worked so I can speak to them about warranty coverages?
  • Where are some of you previous projects so I can speak with owners there?

The information you gain may not be enough to send you running from your new home deal, but it should help you understand where you’ll stand if you ever need to file a claim. You should also check with your state’s Attorney General Office or contractor licensing board to make certain your builder is offering all warranties he’s required to provide.

To learn more about builders’ warranties, contact your state or local builders’ board. If you’re making your home purchase with an FHA or VA loan, those organizations can also provide you with additional information.

Related:

Originally published June 11, 2014.

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/what-does-builders-warranty-cover-151357/

What Do Mortgage Lenders Review on Bank Statements?

Trained to spot financial mismanagement, mortgage lenders take careful time to review your finances before approving or denying you for a home loan. The role of the lender in approving a loan is to make sure you have enough money for a down payment and closing costs, and to assess whether you’re able to regularly make your monthly payments. Part of how they do that is by reviewing your bank statements. That’s why it’s important to make sure all your documents and records are sorted and straightforward.

Bank statement warning signs

Overdraft charges
Lenders typically include your last two months of bank statements in their evaluation of your finances. Having a long list of overdraft charges in your account isn’t the best indicator that you’ll be a good borrower. No matter the circumstances, having a history of overdrafts or insufficient funds noted on your statement shows the lender that you might struggle at managing your finances.

Large deposits
Another red flag to lenders is when a bank statement has irregular or lump-sum deposits. This can be seen as iffy because it could appear that those funds are coming from an illegal or unacceptable source. Unless you can provide an acceptable explanation for your large deposit, it’s likely the lender will disregard those funds and apply your remaining dollars to their assessment of whether you qualify for a loan.

Signs of the bank of mom and dad
One way to help ensure that your bank statement won’t raise any red flags with lenders is by having consistent, tracked payments. If, for instance, you have automatic monthly payments to an individual rather than to a bank, lenders could see that as a non-disclosed credit account. This would be the case if you were to take out a loan from your parents and make car payments to them rather than an actual bank, for example.

How to reduce bank statement scrutiny

Take extra care of your transactions for at least a few months before applying for a mortgage. Lenders want to know that the money in your account has been there for some time, not just recently deposited. One or two big deposits into your account right before applying could indicate to lenders that the money you claim to have isn’t actually yours or isn’t a “seasoned” asset, meaning the money hasn’t been in your account for at least two months.

At the end of the day, it’s best to start the process of organizing your bank activity and statements prior to applying for a loan. When you start looking for a home, it’s best to have your financial information sorted in case your dream home hits the market and you have to move fast.

If you keep your bank statements top of mind in the initial search phases, you may have an easier time applying for a loan and ultimately securing it. Remember: Underwriters review your accounts once more, just prior to closing. So, be sure to maintain healthy finances throughout the closing process too.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

Related:

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/mortgage-bank-statement-review-224440/

How Do Co-Borrowers’ Credit Scores Affect a Home Purchase?

Whether you’re a seasoned or first-time home buyer, be prepared to know your FICO score and have a firm understanding of your credit history. And if you’re buying with another person, their credit history can affect your joint home purchase.

What is a FICO score?

First things first – what’s a FICO score and why does it matter? FICO is an acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation, the company that developed the most commonly used credit scoring system. Everyone is assigned a number ranging from 300 to 850. The number assesses your credit worthiness through previous payment history, current debt, length of credit history, types of credit and new credit. For the purpose of buying a home or obtaining a loan, it’s the score most commonly used by lenders to determine the borrower’s level of risk. Many people simply refer to the FICO score as “credit score,” so we’ll do that moving forward.

Which score do lenders look at?

Typically, your lender will look at three credit scores reported from each of the three credit bureaus – Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – and then take the median score of the three for your application. Borrowers should hope for at least a 680, which is generally the minimum score for getting approved for conventional loans. For borrowers with lower credit scores, FHA loans allow a 580 score, or even as low as 500 if a 10 percent down payment is made. In any case, the higher the score, the better interest rate you’ll be offered.

Should I apply with my spouse or alone?

Deciding whether or not to include a spouse or a co-borrower on a mortgage application often comes down to whether it makes the most financial sense.

There’s not a ton of wiggle room when it comes to qualifying for a loan. You typically qualify or you don’t. If the only way you can qualify for the loan is by applying jointly to include the total income of both borrowers, then that might be your only option. But even if your credit and income are good enough to qualify for a loan on your own, applying together still might be a better option, as each scenario has its tradeoffs.

My partner has bad credit

When applying jointly, lenders use the lowest credit score of the two borrowers. So, if your median score is a 780 but your partner’s is a 620, lenders will base interest rates off that lower score. This is when it might make more sense to apply on your own.

The downside in applying alone, however, limits you to just your income and not the combined amount from you and your partner. While your credit score might be better, having a lender evaluate you on only your income could lower the total loan amount you qualify for.

If having your name on the home is a big deal, don’t worry. You can still be on the title of the home, just not on the mortgage.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

Related:

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/joint-mortgage-credit-scores-224438/

Who Owns the Home When Two Names are on the Mortgage?

When couples start a new journey as homeowners, questions can linger as to whose name (or names) should be listed on the mortgage and title. Many couples want a 50/50 split, indicating equal ownership to the asset, but sometimes that isn’t the best financial decision. Plus, with more than one person on the loan, the legalities of who owns the home can get tricky. A home is often the largest purchase a couple or an individual will make in their lifetime, so ownership can have big financial implications for the future.

Title vs. mortgage

For starters, it’s important to note the difference between a mortgage and a title. A property title and a mortgage are not interchangeable terms.

In short, a mortgage is an agreement to pay back the loan amount borrowed to buy a home. A title refers to the rights of ownership to the property. Many people assume that as a couple, both names are listed on both documents as 50/50 owners, but they don’t have to be. Listing both names might not make the most sense for you.

Making sense of mortgages

For many, mortgages are a staple of homeownership. According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of American households who bought a home last year obtained a mortgage to do so.

When a couple applies jointly for a mortgage, lenders don’t use an average of both borrowers’ FICO scores. Instead, each borrower has three FICO scores from the three credit-reporting agencies, and lenders review those scores to acquire the mid-value for each borrower. Then, lenders use the lower score for the joint loan application. This is perhaps the biggest downside of a joint mortgage if you have stronger credit than your co-borrower.

So, if you or your partner has poor credit, consider applying alone to keep that low score from driving your interest rate up. However, a single income could cause you to qualify for a lower amount on the loan.

Before committing to co-borrowing, think about doing some scenario evaluation with a lender to figure out which would make more financial sense for you and your family.

True ownership

If you decide only one name on the mortgage makes the most sense, but you’re concerned about your share of ownership of the home, don’t worry. Both names can be on the title of the home without being on the mortgage. Generally, it’s best to add a spouse or partner to the title of the home at the time of closing if you want to avoid extra steps and potential hassle. Your lender could refuse to allow you to add another person – many mortgages have a clause requiring a mortgage to be paid in full if you want to make changes. On the bright side, some lenders may waive it to add a family member.

In the event you opt for two names on the title and only one on the mortgage, both of you are owners.

The person who signed the mortgage, however, is the one obligated to pay off the loan. If you’re not on the mortgage, you aren’t held responsible by the lending institution for ensuring the loan is paid.

Not on mortgage or title

Not being on either the mortgage or the title can put you in quite the predicament regarding homeownership rights. Legally, you have no ownership of the home if you aren’t listed on the title. If things go sour with the relationship, you have no rights to the home or any equity.

To be safe, the general rule of homeownership comes down to whose names are listed on the title of the home, not the mortgage.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

Related:

from Zillow Porchlight https://www.zillow.com/blog/home-ownership-two-names-mortgage-224435/