Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Before You Choose a Mortgage Lender, Read These Tips

Single family house.
Single family house.

Before You Choose a Mortgage Lender, Read These Tips

Someone out there wants to help save you time, stress, and money. Here’s how you find them.

Everyone in the market for a house has different wants — pre-war charm, a lush backyard, a welcoming front door in Pantone Ultra Violet, perhaps — but at the end of the day, they all share a need in common: money. Lots of it.

That’s where your mortgage lender comes in.

The right lender can save you time, anxiety, and loads of cash. And the right loan officer — the professional who represents the lender — can be a powerful ally when you close on a mortgage. As with any potentially life-altering partnership, it’s important to choose wisely.

Only You Know Which Lender Is Your Type

There are three types of mortgage lenders — retail banks, credit unions, and mortgage banks — as well as mortgage brokers, who compare loan products via a coterie of potential lenders to help you, the client, find the right one. Before you start narrowing down the candidates, you have to know what you’re looking for, and where to find it. Let’s talk about your options.

Retail Banks

What they are: These are your Chases and Banks of America, plus your local banks. They do their own underwriting (in a nutshell, investigating your finances), so retail banks, especially the smaller ones, can sometimes offer lower fees and less-stringent credit requirements. If you like to have your accounts all in one place, you may want to use your own bank or credit union.
Who you’ll work with: You’ll be assigned a loan officer, who will receive a commission or bonus for writing your loan.

Credit Unions

What they are: They’re not-for-profit and customer-owned, so they’re not beholden to shareholders like a bank. Because of that and their not-for-profit tax status, they typically offer more personal service and lower fees. The flip side is less convenience: They have fewer branches and ATMs.
And to apply for a loan, you must be a member of the credit union’s community, which could be faith-, employment-, interest-, or union-based, among other things. That said, it’s typically not difficult to become a member; the National Credit Union Administration’s Credit Union Locator is a tool for finding credit unions near you.
Who you’ll work with: As with a bank, you’ll be assigned a loan officer, who will receive a commission or bonus for writing your loan.

Mortgage Banks

What they are: These banks, such as AimLoan and PennyMac, only offer home loans. Many {{ start_tip 75 }}online lenders,{{ end_tip }} like Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans, operate as mortgage banks.
Who you’ll work with: A mortgage bank will assign you a loan officer, who will receive a commission or bonus from the lender’s gross fees for writing your loan. An online lender is going to offer less hand-holding.

Mortgage Brokers

What they are: Mortgage brokers are essentially personal home loan shoppers — they act as liaisons between home buyers and mortgage lenders to help people find the lowest rates and the best mortgage terms. They’re able to get home buyers the best mortgage rates because they leverage their existing relationships with lenders — something individual home buyers can’t do. By doing the heavy lifting for the borrower, the idea is that they make loan shopping more convenient — and perhaps a bit faster.
Who you’ll work with: A mortgage broker can be an individual agent or a group of agents, who act as independent contractors. In exchange for their services, mortgage brokers typically charge a 1% to 2% fee of the loan amount, which is either paid by the borrower or the lender at closing.
Now that you’re armed with the basics, you’ll want to give yourself time to weigh the options about which lender, exactly, to work with.

It Pays to Shop Around Before You Commit

Over the life of the loan, seemingly subtle differences could add up to tens of thousands of dollars. That money belongs to future you and all your dream vacations, renovations, and remodeling #goals.
So before you choose your specific lender ...
  • Thoroughly research any retail bank, credit union, mortgage bank, mortgage broker, or online option you’re considering. Make sure you’re clear on what they can offer you. About one in five (21%) home buyers said they regret their choice of mortgage lender, according to a recent J.D. Power survey. You’re doing your homework so that won’t be you.

  • Interview lenders. You’re aiming for a shortlist of three. (You’ll see why it’s three in a minute.) If you’re thinking about selecting an online lender, make sure you take into account these tips and tricks.

  • Don’t be shy about seeking advice. Survey your family, friends, and coworkers — especially the ones who are nerdy about money.

  • Ask your real estate agent for a second opinion. They have experience with reputable lenders, particularly in your city or town.

Now, let’s say you’ve narrowed your list of potential lenders to at least three candidates. The next step? Finding out whether they will give you a loan.

You Should Seek Out a Lender’s (Pre-)Approval, Too

There’s a world of difference between being pre-qualified for a loan and being pre-approved. Pre-approval means you’ve got skin in the game. It means you’re a boss. And it’s proof that you can buy.
Besides being the grown-up thing to do, pre-approval puts you in a better position when you make an offer. Everyone takes you more seriously. Pre-approval provides evidence to your real estate agent and the seller (or seller’s agent) that a trusted financial institution is willing to finance the purchase.

In most housing markets, sellers are going to expect your to be pre-approved when you make your offer. And when you’re pre-approved, you’re more likely to have your offer accepted — or at least, you won’t lose out on a bid because you have to go back to the bank to get approved for a loan.

As for pre-qualification, it’s an approximation and not necessary unless you have no clue about your creditworthiness and just want a snapshot.

By contrast, with a pre-approval, a lender typically goes deeper and tells you more specifically how big a loan you can get. Caution here: Just because the lender says you can take out a loan for an amount, doesn't mean you should. Consider your lifestyle and monthly budget to decide on the responsible loan amount for you.
To get pre-approved, you must also authorize a lender to {{ start_tip 73 }}pull your credit.{{ end_tip }}
  • Borrowers with credit scores of 760 or higher can typically qualify for the lowest interest rates. 

  • Borrowers with credit scores below 650 may need to apply for a non-conventional mortgage, such as a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan — a government-backed loan that requires a minimum credit score of 580 but lets borrowers make as low as a 3.5% down payment.
  • Borrowers with credit scores below 580 can still qualify for FHA loans, but they’ll have to make at least a 10% down payment. The lower the score, the tighter the requirements become.

When you’re pre-approved, you’ll receive a Loan Estimate. This three-page document is about to be your new best friend.

It Makes Good Sense to Get Pre-Approved by at Least Three Lenders

A Loan Estimate spells out a future loan’s terms, including:
  • The interest rate

  • The length of the loan

  • Estimated costs of taxes and insurance 

  • How interest rates and payments might change over time 

  • Other important financials 

By comparing loan estimates, you can effectively size up your loan options and decide which lender is best for you — and your future. (If you need help navigating the details, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a sample Loan Estimate with helpful tips and definitions.)
Getting pre-approval early in the process also gives you an edge over other buyers. Here’s why:
  • The amount you’re approved for can help you determine your price range, and thus save time and frustration when shopping. 

  • It sends a signal to your agent and sellers that you’re serious about buying a home.

  • It’ll help you move quickly to make an offer when you see a home you like.

And it’s an excuse to celebrate! You now have everything you need to move ahead with that one special lender — and, at the same time, connect with an officer or broker who can help you select the home loan product that’s best for you.
So have a cocktail. Do a dance. Lay back and relax in one of those fancy sheet masks. You’re a (huge) step closer to getting a new house.

Friday, December 29, 2023

Niles Real Estate. Homes for Sale in Niles Illinois


Niles Real Estate. Homes for Sale in Niles Illinois.

Niles Homes, Condominiums and Town homes For Sale in Niles

Looking To Buy or Sell in Niles?

Whether you’re an owner looking to protect your investment or tenant or buyer looking for a new home, Buy Homes America, Inc. is the leading choice. 

Request your FREE neighborhood reports for Niles Illinois:

  • Technology advanced broker
  • Housing Stats and Charts 
  • People Stats and Charts
  • Economic Stats and Charts
  • CMA - Comparative Market Analysis
  • Property alerts in your email inbox
  • Excellent knowledge in Niles and neighborhood information
  • First Time Home Buyer experience 

Look Inside >> REAL FACTS AND STATS in Niles, Illinois

Sell Your Home - Homeowner Application

Buyers. Request for home showings

Find the Perfect Home: Skokie, Niles, Wheeling, Wilmette, Winnetka Real Estate

I can help you find the perfect home.

A first-time home buyer or repeat buyer, I can help you in every step of your real estate transaction, the mortgage process, pre-approval, your home search, contract, all communications with the attorneys, home inspection, and city services.  

my unique expertise in Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Glencoe, Glenview, Golf, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Lincolnwood, Long Grove, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Norridge, Northbrook, Northfield, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Riverwoods, Rosemont, Skokie, Wheeling, Wilmette and Winnetka.

Start your home buyer application now.
Start your home buyer application.

Before you start looking, consider what you want in your home so your real estate broker only shows your homes that meet your needs. 

Type of home:

Single-family home
Can vary greatly in size, number of rooms and building style. It's the most private kind of dwelling you can own.

Shares a wall or other structural part with an adjoining unit, so it's not as private. You only own the space inside your unit, so that's all you pay taxes on. You'll pay homeowners association (HOA) fees to cover the cost of exterior maintenance upkeep—and those fees aren't tax deductible.

New construction  - Ask me about new homes or new construction!
# of bedrooms, # of bathrooms, family room, formal dining room

Other features: 
Garage, pool, yard, fence

Planned unit development
A development where buyers own individual houses and lots, but common areas are reserved for shared use and managed by a homeowners association. You'll typically pay HOA fees.

Usually, an apartment-style building is owned by a corporation. Buyers buy stock in the corporation and have the right to live in a unit under a proprietary lease.

Other important factors to consider: 

If you have kids or hope to in the future, then the local public schools near your home will be important for you.

  • How are the nearby schools rated? 
  • What's the dropout rate? 
  • How far will your kids have to travel to get to school? 
A good real estate broker should be knowledgeable about this, and you can learn more through websites like

  • How many crimes take place in the neighborhood? What kinds of crimes are most common?
  • Will you feel safe going out with your family? Talk to your real estate agent about local safety,
  • and you can also talk to local police. Visit the house at different times of day and night to see
  • who's out, and what it's like after sunset.
  • How long will your commute to work be?
  • How busy are the streets around your property?
  • How much noise does the traffic make?
  • How easy is it to get around for basics like grocery shopping?
Privacy and neighbors
  • Are there lots of children playing in the neighborhood, or is it quiet? 
  • Do the neighbors know each other, or mind their own business? 
  • You can talk to neighbors and your real estate broker to get a sense of what the neighborhood is like.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

What Does "Closing" Mean

Closing real estate contract.
Closing Day.

In Closing: How to Seal the Home-Buying Deal

Sign that paperwork. Write those checks. Get those keys!

The closing. It all comes down to this. The grand finale. Once you have the keys, the house is yours. (Cue: Air horn sound!)
Nice work getting this far. You’re almost a homeowner! Let’s run through some questions you may have as you cross the finish line.

What Does "Closing" Mean?

The close or settlement is when you sign the final ownership and insurance paperwork and get the home’s keys.
The closing process technically begins when you have signed a purchase and sale agreement. That agreement should specify a closing date. Typically — from the signing date to the closing date — closing takes four to six weeks. During this time, purchasing funds are held in escrow, where your money is safe until the deal is officially done.

What's a Closing Disclosure?

Lenders must provide borrowers with a Closing Disclosure, or CD, at least three days before settlement. This form is a statement of your final loan terms and closing costs.
You have three days to {{ start_tip 89 }}review the CD.{{ end_tip }} Compare it to the Loan Estimate you received shortly after you applied for the loan. If you need a refresher on Loan Estimates, you can view a sample version here.)
The point of this formal review process is to ensure there are no surprises at the closing table. If there’s a significant discrepancy between the Loan Estimate and CD, notify your lender and title company immediately. Depending on what the underlying issue is, the closing has to stop and a new closing disclosure must be sent out with a new three-day review period.
There are a couple things on the LE that can’t change by the time you get the CD — namely interest rate and lender fees. Some items can change by only 10% (fees paid to local government to record the mortgage might be one); and others can change without limit, like prepaid interest, because it can’t be predicted at the start of the loan process.
Explore More Topics:
Prepare for Closing
Buy a Home: Step-by-Step

When Will the Final Walk-Through Happen?

Most real estate sale contracts allow the buyer to walk through the home within 24 hours of settlement to check the property’s condition. During this final inspection, which usually takes about an hour, you and your agent will make sure any repair work that the seller agreed to make has been completed.
During the walk-through, you’ll also double-check that everything in the house is in good working order. Be sure to:
  • Run water in all the faucets and check for leaks under sinks.
  • Test appliances.
  • Check the garage door opener.
  • Flush toilets.
  • Open and close all doors.
  • Run the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.
If the home is in good shape — woo-hoo! Your next stop is the closing table.
If anything is amiss, your agent will contact the listing agent and, in most cases, negotiate to get the seller to compensate you at closing — typically in the form of a personal check — for the costs of fixing the problems yourself.
Worst-case scenario: You have to delay closing to resolve problems. In the unlikely event that happens, your agent will help you address the issue.

Who’s Invited to The Closing?

Certain people will be there. Who, exactly, depends on your state. Typically, you will be joined by:
  • Your agent
  • The seller
  • The seller’s agent
  • A title company representative
  • Your loan officer
  • Any real estate attorneys involved in the transaction
The closing usually takes place at the title company, attorney’s office, or the buyer’s or seller’s agent’s real estate office. FYI: Some states, like California, don’t require an in-person, sit-down closing because they’ve enacted legislation that allows for electronic closings with remote notaries.
Nonetheless, as the home buyer, you’ll have to sign what might seem like a mountain of paperwork — including the deed of trust, promissory note (promising the lender you’ll pay back the loan), and other documents. That cramp in your wrist will be worth it once everything is done.

How Much Will I Pay for Closing Costs?

If you’ve heard people vent frustration with the process of buying a home, then you’ve likely heard complaints about unexpected costs at closing. Let’s unpack what you should expect so you’re not surprised, too.
Closing costs can vary widely by location and your home’s purchase price. Costs are split between you and the seller, but as the buyer you’ll cover the lion’s share. You can generally expect your closing costs to be 3% to 4% of the home’s sales price. So, on a $300,000 home, you can pay anywhere from $9,000 to $12,000 in closing costs. (Meanwhile, the seller typically pays closing costs of 1% to 3% of the sales price.)
You can try to predict closing costs with calculators like Nerdwallet’s, which lets you plug in your mortgage details to get a rough estimate of what your costs will be.
Closing fees often include (but are not limited to):
  • Commission for the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent
  • A loan application fee
  • An origination fee, which lenders charge for processing your loan
  • The appraisal fee
  • A fee for pulling your credit report
  • An underwriting fee, which covers the lender’s costs of researching whether to approve you for the loan
  • A title search fee
  • Property taxes, which are due within 60 days of the purchase
  • A recording fee for filing a public land record with the courthouse
These fees are a bummer. The bright side: Almost all of them are one-time deals.

What Should I Bring? (Other than Champagne?)

At the closing you should have:
  • A government-issued photo ID
  • A copy of the ratified sales contract
  • A homeowner’s insurance certificate
  • Proof of flood insurance, if you’re buying a home in a flood zone
  • A cashier’s check, or proof of {{ start_tip 90 }}wire transfer,{{ end_tip }} to cover the remainder of the down payment and your closing costs
Also, talk to your attorney about anything else you might need to bring depending on your state or personal circumstances (such as a separation or divorce decree, should your relationship status affect the closing).

What Is Title Insurance and Why Do I Need It?

Every lender requires borrowers to purchase title insurance — a policy that protects you and the lender from outside claims of ownership of the property. Wait, you may be asking, some random person could show up and claim they own the house? Sounds crazy, but it happens.
Let’s say a previous owner didn’t pay all of their property taxes. Because those taxes remain against the property, the taxing entity could potentially take your home if you don’t have a “clean” title. Title insurance also protects you from ownership claims over liens, fraudulent claims from previous owners, clerical problems in courthouse documents, or forged signatures.
The title company will perform a comprehensive search of deeds, wills, trusts, and public records to trace the property’s history and verify that you’re becoming the rightful sole owner of the property.
Typically, lenders have a preferred title company they work with, but it’s ultimately the buyer’s decision as to which title company to use. Your agent could offer a few referrals.
Title insurance comes in two forms:
  1. Lender’s title insurance, which (no surprise) protects the lender. It’s required.
  2. Owner’s title insurance, which protects you. It’s optional but recommended because it covers your interest in the property. If the insurance company loses a battle over the title in the future but you purchased owner’s title insurance, you’re fully protected. Owner’s title insurance will also cover your legal fees if you have to defend your ownership rights in court.
Unlike most insurance policies, such as homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, and life insurance, title insurance is paid as a one-time fee at closing. The average cost of title insurance is about $544 for the lender’s policy and about $830 for the homeowner’s policy, according to ValuePenguin data. However, costs can vary significantly depending on the home you’re buying, where it’s located, and how much legwork the title company has to perform.

What If There are Last-Minute Issues? Should I Panic?

For your loan to be approved, it has to go through underwriting. The underwriter’s job is to {{ start_tip 91 }}validate all of your financials{{ end_tip }} — confirming that your income, credit, and debt haven’t changed since you were pre-approved for the loan —  as well as to review the property’s characteristics and appraisal. If everything checks out, your mortgage will be approved.
If something goes wrong during underwriting though, you’ll have to address the problem before you can close on the home. Let’s say your credit score dropped because you recently purchased a car with an auto loan, or maxed out your credit cards.This isn’t necessarily dire, but you may need to delay closing as you work with your lender to take steps to raise your score. (Also, for that reason, it’s a good idea to hold off on big purchases, avoid overusing a credit line, and doing really anything that could result in a credit inquiry until after the closing.)

OK — Can I Celebrate Now?

If you’ve made it through close … YES! Once you’ve climbed that mountain of paperwork and have those keys in your hands, you now officially, finally own a home.
Congratulations! You put in a lot of hard work — including to build relationships with your agent, your lender, and other experts along the way.
Now it’s time to start investing in other relationships. Like with your new neighbors :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Tell us about your international properties. Market your property to the World in 2023-2024. 

In the fast-paced world of real estate, reaching a global audience is key to selling properties quickly and effectively. As we enter 2023 and move into 2024, here are some essential tips for marketing your real estate listings to the world.

1. Showcase Property Details

The first step in marketing your property to a global audience is to provide comprehensive details. This includes:

  • Property type (e.g., residential, commercial, or land)
  • Square footage or size
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Special features or amenities
  • Price range and currency

2. Highlight the Country and Location in your Post Comments

Clearly indicate the country where the property is located. In addition, specify the city or region. For example:

  • Country: The United States
  • Location: New York City, Manhattan

This information helps potential buyers understand the property's geographical context.

3. Emphasize Unique Features in your Post Comments

Differentiate your property by emphasizing unique features or selling points For example:

  • Stunning waterfront views
  • Beach location or access 
  • Local infrastructure, stores, food, healthcare, retail service facilities or shopping malls 
  • Modern kitchen with high-end appliances
  • Spacious backyard with a pool
  • Proximity to major landmarks or attractions
  • Capturing what makes your property stand out can pique the interest of global buyers.
  • Other details 

4. Multilingual Descriptions

To attract international buyers, provide property descriptions in multiple languages, including English language. This can significantly expand your reach and make your listings more accessible to a diverse audience.

5. Interactive Maps and Neighborhood Information

Provide interactive maps that highlight nearby amenities, schools, shopping centers, and public transportation options. Including information about the local neighborhood can help buyers visualize the property's surroundings.

This article is about:

By following these strategies, you can effectively market your properties to a global audience in 2023-2024. With the right approach and a strong online presence, you'll maximize your chances of attracting international buyers and closing successful real estate deals.

 Moving Aboard? I have education and experience to make your transaction seamless.

Market your Illinois property to the world.

  • 60 million buyers across a vast network
  • 70 publishers and 40+ countries
  • key coverage in Asia, Europe, and North & South America
  • local MLS, listing syndication to over 100 approved sites and boards 
  • CIPS International Professionals are located in 46 countries 

   "I use REALTORS® powerful analytical platforms for your advantage"
  •     Know Your Buyer - demographics, interest, Geo locations and consumer behavior
  •     CMA - Comparative Market Analysis reports, pricing and neighborhood information, your property performance 
when you buy, sell or invest in real estate 

    " I know how to service international customers and conduct real estate transactions in Illinois. I know how to compete in today’s international real estate market. I have the education, the resources, and the network to build an international marketing strategy for your property to help attract qualified buyers from around the globe."

Dmitry Vikhter, Certified International Property Specialist

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Unlocking the American Dream: A Guide to Your First Home Purchase in the U.S.

 Navigating the U.S. Real Estate Market: 7 Essential Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Becoming a homeowner in the United States is a significant step towards achieving the American dream. With just over half of foreign-born households in the U.S. owning their homes, you too can embark on this exciting journey. However, the U.S. real estate market can be complex, and the process may differ from what you're used to. To help you navigate it successfully, here are seven essential tips for buying your first home, American-style:

Tip 1: Establish Your Identity

While you don't need U.S. citizenship or a specific visa to purchase a home, you must have a few key documents:

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN): This number is assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to foreign nationals who need to file income tax returns.

Valid Foreign Passport or Photo Identification: You should have at least one of these to confirm your identity.

It's important to note that property ownership isn't tied to your immigration or visa status, but it's essential to understand U.S. visa requirements to ensure you can stay in the country legally.

Tip 2: Plan Your Path to Homeownership

Consider getting a mortgage to expedite your journey to homeownership and start building equity sooner. The U.S. offers a variety of safe and affordable mortgage options, some of which accommodate specific religious or ethical requirements, such as those for Muslims who wish to avoid paying interest. To secure a U.S. mortgage:

Establish credit by opening U.S. bank and credit card accounts.

Ensure all your income is reported on your tax returns, as lenders use this information to assess your borrowing capacity.

Major banks with global operations often have experience working with foreign buyers and a process for verifying credit established in other countries.

Tip 3: Partner with a Certified International Property Specialist

When selecting a REALTOR®, ensure they are a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) with experience, training, and education in assisting foreign-born homebuyers. Additionally, consider consulting with an experienced real estate or title attorney to protect your interests. Communicate your native country's home-buying process to your real estate agent and ask them to explain U.S. customs, including closing costs, inspections, and negotiations. Variations can exist even within the U.S., so understanding these differences reduces stress and helps you secure a favorable deal.

Tip 4: Embrace the Informal Process

U.S. business culture fosters a relaxed and casual attitude toward real estate transactions. Although real estate contracts must be in writing, the process leading up to the contract signing may be less formal than what you're accustomed to in your home country.

Tip 5: Convert Units Effortlessly

Familiarize yourself with the U.S. standard measurement system or use a metric converter app to help you estimate room and home sizes while house hunting.

Tip 6: Language Support Matters

If English isn't your first language or you prefer communicating in your native language, look for inspectors, mortgage bankers, and REALTORS® fluent in your language. While translated copies of standard real estate documents are possible, you'll likely need to sign the English versions during your home purchase.

Tip 7: Prepare a Financial Blueprint for Homeownership

Finally, it's crucial to create a comprehensive financial plan for homeownership. Consider all related expenses, including property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance costs. This plan will help you manage your finances effectively and ensure you're well-prepared for the responsibilities of owning a home in the U.S.

By following these seven tips, you can navigate the U.S. real estate market with confidence and successfully embark on your journey to becoming a proud homeowner. Good luck, and welcome to the world of American homeownership!

This article is about:

Explore essential tips for first-time homebuyers in the United States, from navigating the complex real estate market to understanding the unique requirements for foreign buyers. Learn how to establish your identity, secure a mortgage, work with experts, and embrace the U.S. home-buying experience while creating a financial plan for successful homeownership.

Tips for buying your first U.S. home: identity, mortgage, experts, and more. A guide to successful homeownership.

International Buyer Application Chicago

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

How to buy home in USA - Find your home with Dmitry Vikhter

Dmitry Vikhter, REALTOR(R)

7 Tips for Buying Your First Home in the U.S.

Find your Home with Dmitry Vikhter, REALTOR(R)

Buy Homes America, Inc, real estate broker corporation, licensed in Illinois.
Dmitry Vikhter, Managing Broker

Article From

By: Dona DeZube

Help finding your way through the complex U.S. real estate market.

Nothing says you're truly an American like owning a home. And just over half of all foreign-born households living in the U.S. own their own home.

If you're ready to join them, try these seven tips for American-style homebuying success -- the process here may be quite different from what you're used to. 

 1. Be Ready to Prove Who You Are

You don't have to get your citizenship, a green card, or any particular type of visa before you buy a home. But you do need:       

  • An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. That's a number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to foreign nationals who need to file income tax returns.

  • A valid foreign passport, or two or more current photo identifications, such as a driver's license, to show who you are.

Although property ownership isn't tied to immigration or visa status, there are rules about how long you can stay, so if you're not a citizen, check out U.S. visa requirements before you purchase.

 2. Plan to Get a Mortgage

 That way, you don't have to save your money for years to become a homeowner and start building equity. The U.S. home loan market offers many safe, affordable mortgages, including ones that allow Muslims to buy a home without violating Islamic laws against paying interest.

To get a U.S. mortgage, you must establish credit and earn a good credit score. To boost your score: 

  • Open U.S. bank and credit card accounts.
  • Report all your income on your tax returns. Lenders use tax returns to verify your income and decide how much you can afford to borrow to buy a home.

When it's time to apply for a mortgage, you'll find major banks with global operations have experience working with foreign buyers and tend to have a process for verifying credit established in other countries.

 3. Work with a Certified International Property Specialist

 Make sure your REALTOR? is a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) and has experience, training, and education in helping foreign-born home buyers. An experienced real estate or title attorney can help you protect your interests, too. Tell your real estate agent how the home buying process works in your native country and ask her to explain U.S. home-buying customs to identify any differences. Even within the U.S., local differences exist in how people buy and sell homes. Knowing how homes are sold here and what to expect with closing costs, inspections, and the negotiation process reduces your stress and helps you get a good deal on your first home. 

 4. Don't Be Shocked By Casual Attitudes

 Americans' casual attitudes toward buying or selling real estate is a byproduct of the relaxed U.S. business culture. Although real estate contracts must be in writing, the process leading up to the sales contract signing may be more informal and casual than it would be in your home country.

 5. Convert Units

 Learn to convert from the U.S. standard measurement into metric, or pick up a metric converter app so you can better estimate room and home sizes while shopping.

 6. Find Someone Who Can Translate 

 If you're not fluent in English, or prefer speaking in your native language, choose inspectors, mortgage bankers, and REALTORS? fluent in your own language. Although it's possible to get translated copies of standard real estate documents, you'll likely have to sign the English versions during your home purchase.

 7. Create a Financial Plan for Your Home

 Consider all the real-estate related expenses you'll have as a homeowner, including property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance costs. Set up a financial plan for your home so you know how much money to set aside for ongoing expenses.

Before You Choose a Mortgage Lender, Read These Tips

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

5 Questions To Ask When Buying A House

5 Questions To Ask When Buying A House

Article From

By: HouseLogic
Published: January 08, 2020

There are no dumb questions to ask a real estate agent.

Home buying seems simple enough: Find a house you like that's close to work or school, tell someone you want to buy it, and move in.

 But there's more to it than that. You'll have to find and get approved by a lender who will let you borrow a few hundred thousand dollars, lock in a mortgage rate, figure out how much house you can afford, put in an offer that will entice the seller, get an inspection and an appraisal, pay closing costs and sign a whole bunch of paperwork.

 Phew! We need a break just thinking about all the questions to ask when buying a house.

 Your real estate agent can help you understand the process. But if you don't ask questions or get your agent to clarify something you don't understand, they're not going to know you're confused. And you won't learn anything.

"There are no such things as stupid questions," says REALTOR? Ryan Fitzgerald in Raleigh, N.C. "If you have a question, ask it, no matter how foolish it sounds in your own head."

 Don't be afraid. Ask away. You're making one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, so it's a good idea to tap into your agent's expertise.

 Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when buying a house.

 1. How Many Clients Have You Helped Purchase Homes?

 Before you pick a real estate professional, ask them how many clients they've worked with to find a home. Your real estate agent is supposed to be an expert, so one with a lot of experience will be a big help to a newbie home buyer like you.

 That's not to say a newly licensed agent can't be a good one. But agents learn on the job. The more sales they've completed, and the more people they've helped buy a home, the more wisdom they have to share with you.

 Related: The 14 Best Questions to Ask An Agent

 2. How Old Is The HVAC, Water Heater, And Roof Of This Home?

 It's easy to be dazzled by 12-foot ceilings, crown molding, and other aesthetic features, but you need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the house. We're talking the unsexy stuff like the HVAC system, water heater, roof, electrical system, and plumbing.

"Knowing the age and condition of the major items will help you gauge how much your home could potentially cost once you move in," Fitzgerald says. "The older the home, the more likely you are to have higher maintenance costs."

 These items could have more impact on a home's value than quartz countertops or hardwood floors, because it's expensive when they malfunction. A leaking hot water heater can do thousands of dollars of damage. And replacing an aging HVAC system can start at more than $5,000, putting it in the major expense category.

 3. What If The Home Inspection Reveals Major Issues?

 We won't lie: The home inspection is one of the most nerve-wracking days of the homebuying process. It's when you find out about every wart on the place you fell in love with at the showing.

 Most of the time the inspection goes as expected. But if you aren't expecting a major issue and the inspector discovers something awful like a rusting sewer main or walls full of termites, it can be panic attack time.

 Breathe. "What should I do when the inspector has bad news?" is one of the most common questions to ask when buying a house. Talk to your agent.

 Your agent can calm you down so you can plan your next move, whether it's "Let's kiss this money pit of a house goodbye" or "Let's negotiate with the seller and get those repairs done so you can close on time."

 4. What Happens If The Appraisal Comes Back Low?

 In competitive markets where there are more buyers than sellers, it's possible to end up in a bidding war over a house. This can drive the sales price higher than the appraised value of the home. Lenders balk when the price is higher than the value, and this can jam up the deal.

 Ask your agent what you should do if the appraisal comes in low. An experienced agent will have been in the situation before and have good advice. You'll have a couple of options, including ordering a second appraisal, covering the difference in cash, or walking away from the deal.

 No matter what happens, keep your cool. Just because the appraisal is low doesn't mean the deal will fall through.

"When things don't go as expected, it's important to remain level-headed. You never want to allow your emotions to be too up or too down when buying a home," Fitzgerald says.

 Related: How to Make the Appraisal Work, and When to Walk Away

 5. What Do We Need To Do To Prepare For Closing?

 Closing day is essentially the transfer of ownership, but it's not just a formality. It needs to go well. This is when you sign the final paperwork and get the keys to the house.

 One of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent is exactly what you need to bring for the big day. You'll probably need your ID, a check for the closing costs, and proof of homeowner's insurance.

 Asking in advance will keep you organized and help your first big real estate transaction run smoothly. You don't want to get there and realize you forgot a key piece of paperwork that keeps the deal from closing. Fewer things are as disappointing than not going home from a closing with keys to your new house.

 So ask questions. Knowledge is power, so there are no silly questions to ask when buying a house.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Home Buying and Selling During the Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Home Buying and Selling During the Pandemic: What You Need to Know

By: Leanne Potts
Published: May 1, 2020

Resources to help you navigate the new real estate normal.
Technology and good-old-fashioned creativity are helping agents, buyers, and sellers abide by COVID-19 health and safety practices while getting deals done.
Some buyers are touring houses virtually. Others visit in person while remaining at least six feet from their agent. Sellers are hosting open houses on Facebook Live. Appraisers are doing drive-by valuations. Buyers are watching inspections via video call. Masked and gloved notaries are getting signatures on doorsteps.
“We have had to make some adjustments, for sure,” says Brian K. Henson, a REALTOR® with Atlanta Fine Homes / Sotheby’s International Realty in Alpharetta, Ga. “Everyone is trying to minimize face-to-face interactions. There have been some delays, but mostly, deals are getting done, just with tweaks.”
Here’s what home buying and selling during the pandemic looks like.

Showings Go Virtual

The rules around in-person showings vary by city, county, and state. Some allow them and some ban them. Check with your state, county, and local government to get the latest on business closures and shut-down rules.
Agents have conducted home tours via FaceTime and other similar tools for years. But these platforms have proven invaluable for home buying and selling during the pandemic. Real estate sites report a surge in the creation of 3D home tours. Redfin, a real estate brokerage, saw a 494% increase in requests for video home tours in March.
“I’ve done several FaceTime showings,” says Henson. He conducted virtual showings before COVID-19, too. He recently closed a deal on a home the buyers only saw on video, he says, but hasn’t yet done so during the pandemic.
In places where in-person showings are allowed, agents wipe down door handles, spray the lockbox with disinfectant, and open up the house, closets, everything for a client. “We leave all the lights on so no one touches switches, and we don’t touch cabinets or doors during showings,” Henson says.

Safe-Showing Guidelines

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, which produces HouseLogic, recommends only one buyer enter a home at a time, with 6 feet between each guest. NAR also recommends agents have potential buyers wash their hands, or use hand sanitizer when they come in the door. They should also remove their shoes. No children should be present at showings, either.
“We’re living in extraordinary times and unusual circumstances. If you have the ability to work, you have to be creative,” Mabél Guzmán, a Chicago real estate agent, told NBC News. Guzmán, who is also vice president of association affairs for NAR, has put together a video offering tips and strategies for virtual showings during the pandemic.

Down Payment Help

Many organizations offering down payment assistance to first-time home buyers have temporarily suspended the programs or changed the rules. You can check the status of programs in your area at the Down Payment Assistance Resource site.

Desktop, Drive-By Appraisals

Appraisers are essential workers in many areas, so home valuations are continuing. But often remotely. New, temporary rules from the Federal Housing Finance Authority allow drive-by and desktop appraisals for loans backed by the federal government.
In a desktop appraisal, the appraiser comes up with a home estimate based on tax records and multiple listing service information, without an in-person visit. For a drive-by, the appraiser only looks at the home’s exterior, in combination with a desktop appraisal. The Appraisal Foundation has put out guidelines for handling appraisals during the pandemic. Here’s the FAQ.
And here are specific new appraisal guidelines by agency:
On the other hand, some private lenders still require in-person appraisals, which are allowed even in areas with shutdown orders. Private lenders hold about 35% of first-lien mortgages, according to the Urban Institute
When appraisers come to your home, they should adhere to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, including wearing gloves and a face mask, keeping at least 6 feet apart from anyone in the home, and asking if the homeowners have been sick or traveled recently to a COVID-19 hotspot.

Inspections Via Live Video

Inspectors are now often working alone, no buyers in tow, and using hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors advises inspectors to videotape their inspection so clients can watch it at home later, or to use FaceTime or other live video chat apps to take their clients along on the inspection, virtually. They can also call clients with their findings after they’re done.
The American Society of Home Inspectors has also issued guidelines for inspectors so they keep themselves and the homeowners safe while providing an accurate assessment of a home’s condition.

Mortgage Rates and Locks

With mortgage rates fluctuating quickly and closing times taking longer than usual, some lenders are extending mortgage rate lock periods. You can grab a good rate and hang on to it even if your lender takes longer than usual to process your loan.
But the protocol depends on the lender and the loan. Some lenders are offering this for all loans; others for refis. Check with your lender about its policy.
Related: How to Get Home Financing

Employment Verification

An important step in getting a mortgage is proving the borrower has a job. In pre-coronavirus days, lenders called the borrower’s employer for a verbal verification.
The Federal Housing Finance Authority, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and federal home loan banks, has relaxed the rules for loans backed by the federal government because so many businesses are closed.
Lenders for federally backed loans now accept an email from an employer, a recent year-to-date paystub, or a bank statement showing a recent payroll deposit as proof of employment.


Home buying and selling during the pandemic means real estate agents can conduct the final walk-through via video with their clients. Or they can just open the home and have buyers walk through on their own. Henson says he still accompanies his clients, but stays six feet away and has them wash their hands when entering and exiting the house. Everyone’s wearing masks, too.
And, of course, when the buyers take possession, they should disinfect.

Remote Notarization Depends On Where You Live

About one-half of states have permanent remote online notarization (RON) policies. These allow a notary and signer in different locations to sign electronic document, usually by use of video apps like Zoom or FaceTime. Notaries will watch you sign either a paper document or do an electronic signature on an e-doc, via camera.
Some states have rolled out temporary rules allowing RON. Here’s a state-by-state list of notary law updates, and the type of remote notarizations allowed. The number of states allowing remote notarization could grow as federal and state pandemic legislation expands.

Closings Get Creative

Traditional closings, where everybody gathered around a big table to sign the final papers, are no longer possible. Title companies and banks are getting super creative in dealing with the limitations.
A Minnesota company, Legacy Title, rolled out a drive-thru closing service at one of its offices in an old bank branch building. The title company rep sits in a bank teller window and handles the closing papers while the customer sits in their car. Legacy completed 14 closings in the first week it offered drive-thru service.
Then there are drive-by closings, where the entire transaction takes place in cars. Masked and gloved notaries meet buyers in parking lots and pass documents through car windows.
“I had a closing where the buyer sat in her car the whole time. The attorney came out to her car, gave her paperwork, had her sign in her car, and my buyer never got out of her car,” Birmingham, Ala., agent Isaac McDow told WBRC television.
Says Georgia-based agent Henson, “I’ve had closings the last three weeks [that] I’ve been asked not to attend. There was one where the seller signed two days before buyer. Then the seller came back two days later and signed.”
Henson, who is also licensed in New York, has had to extend closing dates on two sales there since. Co-op boards won’t let non-residents into buildings ­­­– not even an electrician who needs to make repairs as part of an issue that came up in the inspection. He left the closing with an open-ended date.
“It’s all about being really flexible right now,” he says.
TIP: Find out if your county recording office can complete the deal online.

Student Loan Relief

Finally, if you’re also trying to swing your student loan payments, know that federal student loan borrowers get an automatic six-month break in loan payments from April 10, 2020, through Sept. 3, 2020. Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, they also won’t be charged a dime of interest in that time.

Learn more at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s site.

Keep in mind that payment suspension only applies to federal loans owned by the Department of Education. Some help may be available to borrowers with private student loans and other loans (like Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans) that aren’t covered. But it’s not automatic. Reach out to your student loan servicer for information.

So, Should You Buy or Sell?

The real estate industry is creatively and safely responding to the situation, and mortgage rates remain low. Your agent is a great source of information about home buying and selling during the pandemic to help you feel comfortable. But, ultimately, it’s a question only you can answer.
Related: 5 Questions to Ask Your Agent When Buying a House

Looking To Buy or Sell in Illinois? Contact Dmitry Vikhter at Buy Homes America, Inc.

Friday, June 21, 2019

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    Friday, June 14, 2019

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    Monday, May 27, 2019

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    Friday, May 24, 2019

    Jobs in real estate for motivated brokers in Chicago North

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