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Buyer Resources

Buying a home is an exciting time in one’s life. Making the smart move of choosing a Royal Fine Homes agent is your first step to ensuring that your new home and community meets your needs. Our services and experience range from financial aid to helping you find the home that best suits you and your family. For your convenience, we also provide listings by email. We pride ourselves on repeat business and hope you’ll come to understand why.

Here you’ll find helpful information and tips for buying property in Westchester…specific, local, useful information. Remember… It is a great time to buy! Home prices are affordable, interest rates are low, and the home buyers’ tax credit is back! Contact us today to take full advantage of these benefits and our extensive experience and knowledge.

Tax Exemptions

New York State and Westchester County offer a number of tax reduction programs to qualified individual owners of single family, multi-family houses, condominiums, and cooperative apartments. Many homeowners are entitled to reductions in their property taxes, but do not receive them because they have never applied.

This is a list of New York State and/or Westchester County property tax exemption benefits:

  • STAR (School Tax Relief)

  • Senior Citizen

  • Veterans

  • Homestead Option

  • Disabilities & Limited Incomes

  • Agriculture, Farms, Land, Buildings & Forests

Avoiding Financial Stress

By asking the right questions, and knowing exactly what your needs are, you can find the right loan for you. There are certain approaches that you can take while mortgage shopping that can cost or save you money.

It is still true that the better qualifications you have, the lower your interest rate will be. However, there are mortgages available for almost everyone; it’s the interest rates or the down payments that vary.

Before speaking with a lender, know what monthly dollar amount you feel comfortable committing to. Then when you discuss mortgage pre-approval with your lender, it is easier for you to determine the monthly amount and what value of home the monthly amount translates into. Do not put yourself in the position where you will be paying more each month than you intended simply because the “dream” house requires it.

Do your research on the types of mortgages available to you and find the one that best suits your needs. There are a number of considerations to be made in terms of finding the best mortgage for each individual:

  • What type of market are you in?

  • Are the interest rates falling or rising?

  • Do you want a fixed mortgage rate, where you will always know what your payment is going to be?

  • What are your long-term goals?

  • Do you intend to resell the property?

  • Do you only need the mortgage for a short time?

Build a Plan of Action and Get Ready

Buying a home will probably rank as one of the biggest personal investments one can make. Being organized and in control will contribute significantly to getting the best home deal possible with the least amount of stress. It’s important to anticipate the steps required to successfully achieve your housing goal and to build a plan of action that gets you there.

Before you can build a plan of action, take the time to lay the groundwork for your decision-making process.

First, ask yourself how much can you afford to pay for a home. If you’re not sure on the price range, find a lender and get preapproved. Preapproval will let you know how much you can afford so that you can look for homes in your price range. Getting pre-approved helps you to alleviate some of the anxieties that come with home buying. You know exactly what you qualify for and at what rate, you know how large your monthly mortgage payments will be, and you know how much you will have for a down payment. Once you are pre-approved, you avoid the frustration of finding homes that you think are perfect, but are not in your price range.

Second, ask yourself where you want to live and what is the best location for you and/or your family. Things to consider:

  • convenience for all family members

  • proximity to work, school

  • crime rate of neighborhood

  • local transportation

  • types of homes in neighborhood, for example condos, town

  • homes, co-ops, newly constructed homes etc.

Feeling a Little Cramped? Moving Up

If your home is giving you “the squeeze” because your family has grown or you’re seriously thinking about buying a home in a more upscale neighborhood, then you may be ready to move up to your next home. But how do you get started?

Begin with a “reality check.”

Take some time to really look at what the next step may be. Visit the neighborhoods you may be interested in. Tour open houses or homes for sale to see what kind of home is available in your price range. We can show you neighborhoods and homes that you might not have considered, but that will meet your needs. Trust your instincts and focus on what you know fits your lifestyle. Then we can help advise you on the value and investment quality of the homes on the market.

Next, talk to your lender to see what kinds of mortgage programs and rates are available, as well as how much you will qualify for. More important, take a hard look at your household budget to realistically determine how much of a mortgage payment you can afford each month. If you don’t already have a good relationship with a lender, we’d be happy to refer you to lenders who offer mortgage programs that meet your needs.

In the meantime, we can perform a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) for your current home to see how it compares to other homes sold in your neighborhood. Then we can determine a realistic asking price. We can also recommend ways to prepare your home for sale. Once you have made a realistic assessment of what you’re getting into, then we can put your house on the market and begin to seriously look for your next home.

What if you find a home before yours sells…or vice versa

One of the biggest concerns of move-up buyers is what happens if they find their dream home before their current one sells, or if their home sells before they find a new one. Here’s a brief look at several options (please call us for greater detail or help with your particular situation):

If you have an acceptable offer for your home on the table but haven’t yet found a new house to move to, you can:

Go for it with the understanding that you may have to move twice – once to a short-time rental unit, the second time to your new home.

Accept the offer with the stipulation that you want a long closing and the right to rent back from the new owner for 60, 90 or 120 days. Assure the buyer that you will do everything possible to move things along so they may be able to take possession of the home sooner than the specified terms.

Inform the buyer you’ll sell the home only if you can find a house you like and it will take 30 to 60 days to determine if, indeed, you will sell. This may seem a bit risky but this approach can be successful if you allow the buyer to do their inspection (not appraisal) and get their financing in order while you shop for a new home. You also allow them to continue looking at other homes on the market. If the buyer finds something they like better, then you agree to let them out of the deal and refund their inspection cost (typically it’s only $200-$300). This a good way to avoid having to take your home off the market while you’re looking, only to have the buyer then do an inspection after you’ve found a new home, giving them an opportunity to renegotiate the deal when they know you’re over a barrel. To prevent surprises at the outset, we can include in your listing description a phrase such as “…the sale of this house is contingent on the seller finding a suitable home…”

Think about the future

When looking for your new home, try to think more about your future needs than your current needs. Generally, we recommend buying as much home as you can afford without overextending yourself, especially if you’re buying a new home with few maintenance issues. By stretching a bit within your personal budget, the home will better meet your current and future lifestyle, you will likely hang on to it longer, and it will be a better-performing investment in the long run.

With all that said, remember that you will likely not live in your new home forever. According to U-Haul, the average American relocates 11 times over the course of his or her life (Ladies Home Journal, July 2005). If your new home meets many of your needs, then go for it. You likely will be moving up again in the future.

Finding the Right Seller

The best seller is one who is highly motivated. A highly motivated seller is more likely to sell for less than his or her house is worth. And it matters that you find out why; learning the reason why can help you get the price you want and help the seller get what they want: a timely sale. Additionally, it is important to find a seller that is willing to work with your needs and come to a mutual agreement.

When given the opportunity to meet with sellers, ask them why they are selling. The reasons could be anything from job change to a new location to financial problems. If you can solve their problem, whether it is cash related or time related, do so. For example, if the sellers are highly motivated because they need to move quickly, give them a fast sale – and a lower price. If you can make an offer, even a low one, that gives them cash in a short time, they are more likely to accept.

There are also some sellers that you should avoid. Not every seller is as genuinely motivated as they make themselves to be. Some possible hints:

  • they stall on having the home appraised or inspected

  • is unable to clear up liens against their property

  • does not own 100% of their property

  • they push back the move-out date

  • does not have a replacement property or back up plan

It is impossible to find the perfect seller. But it is possible to find out which sellers are legit, and which ones aren’t.

Getting a Legitimate Lender and Getting Pre-Approved

It used to be that buyers could go house shopping and when they have found their dream home, then they go to get pre-approved. However, in today’s market, that has proven to be one of the least effective methods in landing the dream home.

Most lenders can pre-qualify you for a mortgage over the phone. Based on general questions about your income, debt, assets, and credit history, lenders can estimate how much mortgage you qualify for. However, being pre-qualified and pre-approved are different things. Pre-approval means that you have applied for a mortgage; you have filled out the mortgage application, received your credit report, and verified your employment, assets, etc. When you are pre-approved, you know exactly what the maximum loan amount will be.

A pre-qualified letter is not verified and in essence, does not count for much if you are competing with other buyers who are pre-approved. When you are pre-approved, you and the seller know exactly how much house you can afford. It gives you credibility as an interested buyer and lets the seller know immediately that you will qualify for a loan to buy their property.

In addition to being pre-approved, it’s important to be pre-approved with a legitimate lender. Legitimate lenders include: banks, mortgage bankers, credit unions, savings and loan associations, mortgage brokers, and online lenders.

Some lenders to avoid: those who lose a form or misplace a file, those who gather information from you in an unorganized manner, those who are not informed about interest rates, points or costs, and those who cannot provide you with the right information.

George John | Principal Broker 
914-722-0700 | Contact Us 
697 Central Park Ave.  - Scarsdale, NY 10583
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