Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Celebrating the Holidays

With a few more houses on the market than what is normal for the holiday season, the question keeps coming up about decorating. My advice, over and over, is to keep it simple and elegant. That goes for inside decorating as well as outside.

Speaking of outside decorating, the Democrat and Chronicle has put together a map of notable holiday light displays. To check out that map, go here: http://php.democratandchronicle.com/maps/holiday_lights

Best wishes to you and yours for a safe holiday full of love and laughter. I'm spending the weekend with the Shelsby family in Maryland but will be back to work the beginning of next week.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just Listed: 51 Briarcliffe Dr, Irondequoit

Just hit the market on this cold, blustery Rochester morning! (details at www.RochestersBestHomes.com/931215 )A beautiful 3 bedroom home on a simply gorgeous street in West Irondequoit. With beautiful hardwoods through, this home has lots of period charm plus many important updates, such as a newer roof and vinyl siding. And once the weather breaks, you'll enjoy the professionally landscaped yard with patio and trellis. Priced for a quick sale at $139,900!

Give me a call at 585-756-7457 to set up a private showing on stop by the open house Sunday afternoon, 1 till 4 pm. Snooze and you will loose on this one!

Friday, December 11, 2009

140 Days and Counting

When the weather outside is frightful, you can usually count on the real estate phone going to sleep. Not this year! I worked with three different buyers yesterday during the raging snow storm. And of the 7 houses I showed, three of them were new to the market this week. That’s not a typical December day for Rochester, NY.
With less than 140 days to be under contract to qualify for the home buyer federal tax credit, it seemed like a good time to highlight the program. Of course, you will want to consult with your tax advisor or attorney for more specific advice, as the following points are very general.
• Your purchase agreement for a home must be signed no later than April 30, 2010, and the transaction must close before July 1.

• First-time buyers receive a credit of 10 percent of the purchase price, up to $8,000. A first-time buyer is defined as an individual and/or spouse that has not owned a principal residence in the U.S. within the last three years.

• Buyers who owned and lived in their principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the last eight can receive credit of up to $6,500 when they contract to purchase a home before April 30, 2010, and close before July 1.

• The upper income limit to receive the full credit is raised to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for couples.

• If the purchase price is more than $800,000, the buyer is not eligible for the credit.

• There is no minimum income for claiming the credit. You qualify for the full credit even if you won’t owe any taxes for 2009 or 2010.

• You can claim the credit when you file your 2009 or 2010 tax return. The law does allow you to apply the credit to your down payment but currently, I know of no bank in New York that will provide such a loan.

If you or someone you know is considering a purchase in time to qualify for the tax credit, please call me as soon as possible. We anticipate an early spring rush this year with lots of competing offers and so now to the time to get pre-qualified and define your search criteria.

Keep warm!

Mary Shelsby

ReMax First


Monday, December 07, 2009

Getting Ready to List Your House

Right now, I'm getting more phone calls from people wanting to sell their home than individuals that want to buy a home. That's a change and I think it's been brought on by the federal tax credit for repeat buyers that have owned their current resident for at least 5 years. Of course, there are a million things to do to get your house ready for the market....cleaning, organizing, de-cluttering and just making it look like a model home. It's a ton of work, I know.

There is also a lot of paperwork that needs to be organized and available for closing and since you will be busy packing all your belongs, I recommend that you get the following items in order before you list your home. They include:

• A payoff statement (or recent bill showing balance due) from all mortgages on the property.
• Two sets of keys to the house.

• A copy of all certificates of compliance for improvements to the property, such as fences, pools, sheds, finished basement or attic, new bathrooms, etc.

• Twelve months of utility bills (or one month if on a budget plan).

• Copy of property tax bills.

• Completed Property Condition Disclosure.

• Copies of any environmental testing done, i.e. lead testing, radon testing.

• Contact information for your real estate attorney.

• A list of appliances that you plan to offer with your property.

• Copy of all transferable warranties, such as for a newer roof or appliances.

If you'd like more information about getting your home on the market, don't hesitate to call me. My office number is 585-756-7457.

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Friday, December 04, 2009

Home Buyer Tax CREDIT, not deduction

I've made a few phone calls this week to individuals that might want to take advantage of the Federal Tax Credit being offered to qualified home buyers and was very surprised at how uninformed and/or misinformed the general public is about this program.

Most importantly, this is a tax credit, not a deduction on your income tax. For most first time home buyers, the credit is for 10% of the purchase price up to $8000. That means if you are eligible for a refund, your refund will be increased by the amount of the tax credit. And if you owe Uncle Sam, your bill will be reduced by the amount of the tax credit. Sweet, isn't it?

Some existing home owners that buy a new primary residence will also qualify for a tax credit of 10% of the purchase price, up to $6,500. These home buyers must have resided in their previous property for 5 of the past 8 years. There are income requirements for both tax credits and deadlines to be met. For a fact sheet on the program, shoot me an e-mail or call your tax preparer.

The other good news for home buyers is that interest rates have hit a new all time low, with fixed rates for a 30 year mortgage going as low as 4.71% and 4.29% for 15 year mortgages. It's just a matter of time before these start going up and so if you're in the market to refinance or purchase, give me a call today.

Both the tax credit and interest rates are have a profound effect on the Rochester real estate market. I've been on three listing appointments this week and have started working with 2 new buyers, all very unusual for the time period between Thanksgiving and New Years!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Much to be Thankful For

Highland Maples
Originally uploaded by maryshelsby

Just a quick note between stuffing the turkey and peeling the potatoes. I have much to be thankful for. I have a wonderful supportive husband and an awesome family back in Maryland. I am affiliated with the best real estate company that Rochester has to offer, ReMax First. And 99.9 percent of my clients feel like friends and family. There is not much more I could ask for.

I hope you too have many blessing to count. Stay safe and have a happy holiday with your loved ones.


Monday, November 09, 2009

What does a Million Dollars Buy You in the Rochester Real Estate Market?

In some parts of the country, it's not unusual to pay a million dollars or more to buy a nice house but in the Rochester, NY area it is a rarity. In fact, for a measly million dollars you get a really, really, REALLY nice house!

For just over a million, $1,059,000 to be exact, you can purchase a 6 bedroom, 3.5 bath waterfront front home with a 36 foot indoor pool, hot tub and three fireplaces. For details and photos, click here: Canandaigua.

While most of the million dollar plus properties are waterfront, not all of them are. In Caledonia, the historic Wadsworth estate is on the market for $1,800,000. The estate includes a main house with owner's quarters plus three apartments, a pond-side cottage and a two-story barn/party house on a 30 acre lot. To see the listing, click: Caledonia.

For a whopping $4 million, there is a 37-acre home built in 2008 that boast 11,000 sq feet of living space. (I hope they issue a map at the front door because I have visions of getting lost here!) Located in Penfield, this property was originally listed at $6 million! The listing is rather vague in details and photos, but here it is: Penfield.

To see all of 48 or so listings with a price tag over a million, check out this link Million. In fact, if you enjoy watching the local real estate market, don't hesitate to register with the site, develop a search and have listings delivered right to your computer in-box. And if I can be of assistance, don't hesitate to call.

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Mum 's the Word at Lamberton Conservatory

I just can't be quiet about the beautiful Autumn Mum Display at Lamberton Conservatory, scheduled to run till the end of November. The display featured darn near every type and color of mum you can imagine. It is beautiful. The Conservatory, located in Highland Park, only charges $3 to enter and is open every day except Christmas from 10 am til 4 pm.

Enjoy the extraordinary weather Rochester is having this weekend!

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Why You Should Support Extending the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit!

Did you vote yesterday? I hope so. When I showed up at the polls at 8:40 last night, we had less than a 20 percent turnout. And then we complain about not liking what's going on around here.

Anyway, speaking of politics, this seems like an excellent time to endorse the efforts to extend (and possibly expand) the tax credit for first time homebuyers that is scheduled to expire on November 30, 2009. It is obvious why I want this to be extended since my business is directly impacted by the ebb and flow of the real estate market. But even if I didn't work in real estate, I would be pushing for this extension.

I didn't know this but each time there is a transfer of title of a property in America, it contributes, on average, $62,000 to the gross national product! That's huge! I'm guessing the average is slightly lower in the Rochester area just because our property values are very economical, but the impact is huge. When a house is bought or sold, a ton of people earn a paycheck, including inspectors, mortgage loan officers, surveyors, lawyers, movers, appraisers and Realtors. And as soon as the transaction closes, the new homeowners buy paint, curtains, furniture and lots of other goodies to make the house a home. So, a strong real estate market is good for the local economy.

If you believe this as strongly as I do, I hope you will call or e-mail your Congressman and urge them to get this extension through the House ASAP.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I didn't mean to startle you. I know I've not been around for a while and have fallen behind in blogging. I guess you could say I've had the blogger blahs.

I'll be back soon with a bunch of good real estate tips and news. In the meantime, have a fun and safe Halloween.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Location! Location! Guess this Location!

It's that time again! We had such fun last month that I've decided to do it again.
Do you know the location of the clock? Leave a guess as a comment in the blog (or shoot me an e-mail) and I'll send a gift card to the third person with the correct answer. (No realtors, please!)
Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Perfect House Verses Compromising

Last night, a young couple that I’ve been working with for several months found a beautiful home in their price range. The kitchen was simply stunning with Shaker style cabinets and a beautiful tile backsplash and floor. Both bathrooms were updated and the hardwoods were in great condition. It was so beautiful that it was easy to overlook that Rt. 490 was in its back yard. The highway was so noisy that we found ourselves yelling at each other in the driveway.

My advice to my clients was to forget the house. Granted, it is unlikely that we will find another house this attractive in their price range but if they buy a house in good condition, they will be able to do the cosmetic improvement and upgrades as their economic situation improves. On the other hand, if they purchase this house, they will never be able to do anything about the highway regardless of how much money they make. From the sullen looks on their faces, I don’t think they liked my advice.

There are almost always compromises involved in buying a house and so I offer the following general guidance for consideration in choosing a property.

Location – While it is possible to pick up a house and move it, it is not very practical. Therefore, I encourage clients not to compromise on location. If you’re not wild about having a gas station next door, chances are good that neither will future home buyers when you go to sell the house.

Layout – It is possible to tear out walls or build on an addition, but it’s not cheap. When you are shopping for a house, take time to assess the layout. Are there enough bedrooms and baths? How’s the traffic flow? Does the kitchen have a good design and room for storage?

Mechanicals - When I bought my first home, the first major improvement was to install a liner in the chimney. It was expensive and I couldn’t even see it. There just was no inviting people over to see my new chimney liner! Eventually, everything in a house wears out. Roofs, furnaces, windows all have to be replaced from time to time. When home shopping, assess the mechanicals and be very conscious of their lifespan and cost to replace.

Cosmetics – Everyone falls in love with a beautiful home, myself included, and so it is difficult to convince buyers that this should be their last consideration and first item to compromise on. Think about it. If you had $10,000 to spend on your home would it be more fun to pick out roof shingles or kitchen fixtures? Almost every house can be made attractive, especially if you paid attention to layout. And if you don’t feel that you have the talent or vision to make your home beautiful, there is an abundance of good designers in the Rochester area.

Again, I point out that these considerations are very general and there are special circumstances. Buying a house is a big decision.  Hopefully, you can find a house that is perfect in every way.  But if not, be very aware of what your compromises are.

Mary Shelsby

ReMax First


Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Few Thoughts About Seller Concessions

It seems like the topic of seller concessions keep coming up during the negotiation processes. Often, we will be receiving a counter offer from the seller when my buyer calls me up. “My dad says the seller should be paying my closing costs!”

FHA and VA mortgages allow for a seller to pay the buyer’s closing costs up to an amount equal to six percent of the purchase price. For most conventional mortgages, three percent seller concessions are allowed. The seller paying the buyer’s closing cost sounds like a gift, doesn’t it? Something we should negotiate for, correct? I don’t necessarily agree.

I contend that most sellers know what they need or want to net from the sale of their property. And if there are going to be seller concessions thrown in, the seller is going to demand a higher price. So, in effect, seller concessions is another name for a buyer financing their closing costs.

Now, if a buyer is short on cash and needs seller concessions, they are a great and wonderful thing. But if a buyer has adequate funds to close, I believe they will be better served by getting a lower price for the property and lower monthly payment.

I am not anti- seller concessions. I am anti “buyers thinking this is a gift from sellers and not understanding they will be paying interest on those closing costs for as long as they hold that mortgage.

We are finally enjoying summer-like weather in Rochester.  I hope you are enjoying it.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Just Listed! 32 Delaware St, Rochester, NY 14607

Great new listing in the Neighborhood of the Arts.  Check it out with this link: 

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Neighborhood of the Arts - A Great Place to Live and Play

Rochester has many great neighborhoods but one of my favorites has to be the Neighborhood of the Arts. Jammed packed with culture, the NotA features the Memorial Art Gallery, George Eastman House, Village Gate and ARTWalk. The neighborhood also offers great shopping, restaurants and drinking holes.
If you've not checked it out, ARTWalk is a permanent urban art trail that connects the art centers and public spaces. An expansion to the ARTWalk has been approved and funded through federal stimulus money and so there is a lot of anticipation that a good thing is going to get even better.
The Neighborhood of the Arts encompasses University Avenue, Atlantic Avenue and East Ave and features many high-end residential streets such as Granger Drive and Portsmouth Terr. The area offers many investor opportunities with multi-family dwellings and apartment buildings coming on the market on a pretty regular basis. Medium priced single family homes are a rarity and tend to sell very quick.
If you'd like more information about real estate in the Neighborhood of the Arts, don't hesitate to give me a call.
Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Surprising Numbers

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, less people moved last year than in any year since 1962! And of course, the U.S. population was much smaller then and so it you look at it as a percentage, in 2008 just 11.9 percent of Americans changed residences, the lowest move rate on record since 1948. I find that rather surprising.

So, how are we doing locally in 2009. By the numbers, it doesn't look good. The Greater Rochester Association of Realtors released numbers last week that indicated sales of existing single-family homes fell almost 14 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier. But I personally think these numbers paint an untrue picture.

I personally had very robust year in 2008 UNTIL September 1. That is when the phone stopped ringing. My personal sales for year-to-date are down more than the 14 percent locally reported but the market does seem to be picking up steam with first time home buyers. I am optimistic that this will be a much more productive fall than last year.

Another quick reminder, time is short if you want to buy a house and be closed before the November 30th deadline.

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mrs Clean Does Not Live Here!

Wow! I've seen some dirty houses on the market in recent weeks. I'm not talking dust bunnies, I'm talking dust gorillas. And these aren't cheap houses either.

At one of these houses, my client turned to me and said I feel like I'd just be buying their mess. I assured her we could require that the house be professionally cleaned at closing but the husband shook his head and said, “If they can't keep up with cleaning, what makes us think they have kept up with maintenance items?” Good point!

At another house I showed, the floor was so dirty that we went back to the front door and put our shoes back on to protect our feet. Then when I walked into the dining room, I saw that someone had swept that floor but there was a pile of debris just waiting for someone to appear with the dustpan! This is not an exaggeration!!! This house was listed in the $175,000 to $185,000 range and we had to give 24 hours notice in order to see it. Unfortunately, they did not use that 24 hours to prepare for our showing.

Ladies and gentleman, if you want to sell your house at top dollar, start with a good cleaning. If cleaning is not your thing, then hire it out. And by a good cleaning, I mean wipe down your walls and doors near light switches and door knobs. Organize your cabinets and closets. Clean out your window wells because buyers will be looking at your windows. And yes, do the windows as well. Heck, I also recommend that you eliminate cob webs, even in the basement and attic. It doesn’t hurt to dust the hot water heater and furnace. Send the message that you have loved this old house and have been compulsive about its care. And as long as your house is priced properly for its location and condition, you will have a much greater chance of getting a full price offer.

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Location! Location! Guess this Location!

Do you know the location of this photo? Be the third person with the correct answer and I'll give you a $20 gift certificate to Tim Hortons. (No licensed realtors, please.) Leave your answer as a comment or shoot me an e-mail.

I've been supplying photos to the Greater Rochester Real Estate Board for a similar contest during the past few years and its been a ton of fun. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Mary Shelsby
ReMax First

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Buy Before Labor Day!

I am advising all of my first time home buyer clients to be under contract by Labor Day to qualify for the federal tax credit being offered to most home buyers that have not owned a home in the past three years. I don’t really think it is going to take 80 plus days for a transaction to close but I do anticipate gridlock at banks and attorney offices. I do know of several real estate attorneys that have plans to keep their office open until midnight if necessary to close every transaction that is clear to close before the December 1 deadline.

My biggest concern is housing inventory. Inventory is tight right now, especially homes priced less than $130,000. For example, I started working with new clients just over a week ago that want to buy in the city of Rochester near the U of R. To start their search, I called on 12 listings to schedule an appointment. I could only get appointments at 7 of them because the rest had accepted offers. Of the 7 properties, 2 had offers in that were being negotiated and one smelled so bad we never made it to the second floor. One home was really nice and when I called the next day to schedule a second look, four offers had arrived. This week, 4 new listing came up that met their criteria but 3 of them sold within 12 hours of being listed and the 4th was liked by her but not him. We’ve decided that we’re going to step our search up a notch or two.

Other areas of the city are selling very rapidly as well. The Culver-Winton and Browncroft neighborhoods are definite hot spots. Outside the city, starter homes in the Brighton School District seem to be sold even before they hit the market. And as we count down to the deadline imposed by the Federal government, I anticipate inventory to get tighter and competition more fierce. And so, again, I urge buyers to try to be under contact before the Labor Day holiday.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Beautiful Day on Lake Ontario

Lucky, lucky me! I hot to show property on Lake Ontario this morning and it was a simply beautiful day for it.
Should be a good weekend as well! I hope so! Look for me at the Corn Hill Arts Festival, credit card in hand, doing my part to improve the economy.
There is a lot going on in local real estate and I'll be updating soon, perhaps this evening. I promise!
Enjoy the wonderful weather!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Multi-Family Units & the Federal Tax Credit

I learned something new today regarding the Federal Tax credit for first time home buyers (defined as not owning a home in the past 3 years.) If you purchase a 2-family unit as your primary residence, you are only eligible for half of the tax credit and only a third of the credit if you purchase a three-family unit, etc.

There are still no local mortgage lenders that are providing a short term loan so that the tax credit may be used for closing costs. Since Labor Day weekend is the realistic cutoff to have an offer accepted in order to close before the November 30th deadline, I'm no longer optimistic that this loan is even going to be offered. Most lenders are now advising that buyers get a gift from a family member and give a gift back after closing.

Sales are still brisk in Rochester, with houses in the North Winton area selling within hours of being listed. If you'd like more information about buying in the Rochester area, consider signing up for my Buyer Seminar scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, 6 to 7:30 pm.

Monday, June 15, 2009

City Offers Grants to Landlords for Lead Removal

The City of Rochester is offering a lead grant for rental properties that will assist with 90% of the lead remediation related project cost up to $18,000 per unit for porch repair/ replacement, window/door repair/replacement, painting and bare soil treatment. In extreme cases, funding may be used for exterior siding. Landlords are required to contribute 10% of the total project cost.

There are only 75 of these grants available so act fast. To receive an application simply e-mail your: 1) full name, 2) telephone number, 3) address of business, and 4) email address to RocLandlord@TheHousingCouncil.org with "City LEAD Grant Application" as the subject line.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Home Buying Seminar - Wednesday, June 24, 6 to 7:30 pm

I've not done a home buyer Seminar in a couple of years but there is so much good stuff going on right now with the $8000 first time home buyer credit that the timing just seems right. So mark your calendar or tell a friend.

Wednesday, June 24, 6 to 7:30 pm at 2024 W. Henrietta Road, Suite 2A; which is the home office of First Rochester Mortgage Corp.

I'm real proud of the impressive panel of real estate professionals that have agreed to help with this project.

* Home Inspector Adam Backus of Pillar to Post will share tips on what to look for before putting in a purchase offer.
* Attorney Steve Kruk of Kruk and Campbell will discuss the $8000 Federal Tax Credit for first time home buyers.
* Steve D’Amico, Vice President of East Cap Mortgage will chat about the current mortgage environment.
* Mary Shelsby, Broker Associate with ReMax First will offer advice on the great adventure of finding the perfect home.

We will be serving food, so it is crucial for an RSVP. If you’d like to attend but this particular day or time are not convenient, please let us know so that we can schedule another event or a one-on-one consultation. RSVP to Mary Shelsby at MShelsby@gmail.com or call 585-756-7457.
If you RSVP before Friday June 19th, I will send you a coupon for $200 off your closing cost from eastCap mortgage.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tortuous Weekend!

There is absolutely nothing more fun in real estate than calling your buyers and saying, “Congratulations! Your offer was accepted!”

And there is almost nothing worse than calling buyers and having to tell them their offer was out-bided.

My weekend started off marvelously when I showed a house in Brighton to a young family that had been looking most of this year. We were the very first to get to see the house and it was lovely. The buyers loved it and so we got together that evening and wrote an offer, a generous offer more than $2000 over asking price. And we made the offer good until Sunday at 1, which is when their open house was scheduled to start.

Well, Sunday at 1 came and went with no call from the listing agent. 3pm and the end of the end of the open house came and still no word. By 5 pm, I was getting steamed and called the listing agent. Of course all I got was voice mail. Finally, at 7 pm I received a call from him to say that he still had not been able to reach the sellers to tell them about our offer and by the way, there are now two additional offers on the table.

It was not until Monday morning that we learned that a total of three additional offers came in. Since ours was first, they did give us an opportunity to match the highest offer, which was $11,100 over asking and a cash deal. And so, I have emotionally drained and heartbroken clients that are still looking to buy a house in Brighton, which has to be hottest market around!

In between phone calls and property showings, I took a nice walk through Linear Park (also known as Philbrick Park) in Penfield. That’s where the photos were taken. It was a great escape from the stress and burned more calories than chewing my nails.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Children's Miracle Network Telethon is this Sunday! Call in and I'll Match your Donation!

I’m writing to you to ask for your support!

For the past 5 years or so, I’ve supported the Golisano Children’s Hospital by donating a portion of my real estate commission for every house that I’ve sold. Well, it’s no secret that the economy has had a strong impact on the real estate market and so this past year was far from my most productive year. As a result, I’ve decided to take my support for this important organization to a new level.

This Sunday, May 31st, I will be participating in the local Children’s Miracle Network Telethon which is being broadcast from the Strong Memorial Hospital Lobby on channel 10NBC. The show is being aired from 10 am to 1 pm and from 7 pm till 11 pm.

I will be answering phones and taking pledges for one hour starting at 11 am, and have decided to issue a challenge. If you will call during that hour and mention my name, I will match your donation.* The number to call is (585) 241-KIDS. In addition, you can contribute on-line at www.gchas.org but be sure to mention the Mary Shelsby Challenge in the special comments section.

Why? Well, a couple of weeks ago I attended a luncheon where I got to meet several of the children whose lives were saved by extraordinary care received at Golisano Children’s Hospital. It occurred to me that it would be unthinkable that some child might not have the same opportunity just because they were unlucky enough to get sick during a bad economy. This facility serves a 17 county region and is committed to treating all children regardless of the family’s ability to pay.

So please, mark your calendar for this Sunday, between 11 am and noon, tune into channel 10 and dial 241-KIDS and make a pledge. It’s that simple! Thank you for your consideration and generosity.

*  I will match the first $500 in donations between 11 am and noon in which my name is mentioned.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

The weather just can't be beat right now, just perfect for a holiday cookout. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday weekend. Please do take a moment to remember our veterans. The Vietnam Memorial at Highland Park is an excellent spot for that.

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Cash for Buying a House

For the past two weeks or so, there have been rumors galore that first time home buyers will be able to borrow their federal tax credit in order to use that money for closing costs and down payment towards the purchase of a home. The details have not yet been worked out but I think this is going to happen. There are some technicalities that have to be worked out because basically you are not suppose to borrow money in order to have the funds necessary to qualify for a mortgage. Hopefully this will be worked out soon because there is not a lot of time left in order to qualify for the tax credit. The purchase must be closed before December 1, 2009.

I have also heard rumors of homebuyers amending their 2008 tax returns to claim the credit before they close on a home in order to get the money early and use it at closing. I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice BUT I don’t recommend you doing this. Lying to the federal government so that they will send you thousands of dollars doesn't seem like a prudent advice for individuals that enjoy the simple things in life, like freedom.

Anyway, I’m working with plenty of first time home buyers right now and questions keep coming up about the disbursement of money, i.e., when and how much. Here are some general guidelines.

When you write a purchase offer for a property, you need to be willing and able to make a good faith deposit within 48 hours of when your offer is accepted. Deposits are a minimum of $1000 and are made payable to the listing broker. That money is held in escrow (not given to the seller), is refundable if the contract is canceled due to contingences, and is used towards the closing costs or down payment of the property.

Generally, the buyer has up to one week to conduct inspections of the property and these are done at the buyer’s expense. Inspections include a home inspection ($300 to $500), radon test ($150 to $200), mold inspection ($200 - $500), chimney inspection ($125 0 $200) ect. In addition, if the house is on septic system and/or has a well, they will need to be inspected. It is not unusual for the seller to pay for these inspections but occasionally the buyer will prefer to pay for these themselves just so that the inspector works strictly for the buyer. Well inspections and water testing can run from $35 to $250 and septic pumping and inspection is $200 to $400.

The next outlay of cash is usually to the mortgage lender. Some lenders will collect an application fee at the time the mortgage application is made ($200 - $300). Nearly all lenders will require that the appraisal be paid up front ($250 - $400).

Things get quiet after mortgage application and the next big expense is homeowner’s insurance. Mortgage companies require that you pay for the first year of insurance up front and that the insurance binder is faxed to your attorney before closing. Insurance premiums are based on the replacement cost of the property plus there is consideration of personal possessions, so I won't dare to quote a range for homeowner’s insurance, but do encourage you to shop around.

The day before closing, you will receive a call for your attorney’s office telling you how much money to bring to closing. Hopefully, any surprises with this phone call are good ones, as you will have received and signed a “Good Faith Estimate” at the time of mortgage application. Some of the language on the GFE is confusing to the layman. The GFE will give a total of closing costs, prepaid items which includes interest and mortgage insurance and the down payment. The GFE should include “Total Estimated Funds Needed to Close” and this should be fairly close to what you are asked to bring to the attorney’s office.

I hope this helps clarify how much money is needed when in the home buying process. If you’d like more information or a consolation, don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Favorite Helpers!

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Property is selling in Rochester, NY, thanks in part to the federal first time home buyer tax credit. I've been struggling to keep up but Colin and Sean were a big help in putting a sold sign in front of their home in Southeast Rochester. Thanks guys.
Hopefully, I'll be able to squeeze out a little time over the next couple of days to catch up on blogging!