Buyer Self Help

These are articles related to self help for customers.

Tips for Seniors Looking to Purchase a New Home

Update:  How to Make and Pay for Home Modifications to Enable Aging in Place According to the AARP, an estimated 90 percent of seniors wish to age in place. That is, they want to spend the rest of their days living in their own home rather than in an assisted living facility. However, the homes Americans raise their families in aren’t necessarily the best options for aging in place. Multi-story homes with large floor plans become difficult to navigate as a senior’s cognitive-motor skills deteriorate. This puts a lot of older people in a situation they haven’t been in for years: buying a new home. Seniors looking for a new home may have some catching up to do when it comes to the latest innovations in the real estate market, but in the end it is nothing they can’t handle. If you or someone you know is a senior looking to purchase a new home, take the following advice into account to ensure you find the best place to fit your needs. Finding the Right Home Back in the day, looking for a new home meant scouring over grainy curb photos in the newspaper and real estate bulletins then spending your weekend pounding the pavement to check out the interiors. Today, seniors can cut down on the amount of legwork and browse houses on the market from the comfort of their current homes. Online real estate listings provide a comprehensive description of a property along with interior photos and videos that create a virtual tour. From an online portal, interested parties can easily schedule a walk through if they like what they see in the profile. When looking for a home to spend their Golden Years in, seniors should seek certain features: ● One-story, flat floor plan ● Less square footage (for less overall upkeep) ● Neighborhoods with HOA services such as lawn care ● Location near hospitals and other health care services ● Showers and slip-resistant bathroom flooring ● Large windows and plentiful light ● Wide doors and hallways ● Retirement-friendly tax zoning Finding a Real Estate Agent While seniors can easily browse homes through online marketplaces, all homebuyers can benefit from the professional services of a real estate agent. When it comes to finding a place with all the necessary accessibility features, a real estate agent can zero in on the best options and get the inside scoop on properties that haven’t hit the market yet. When looking for a real estate agent, ask around for one that has experience working with seniors to find their perfect home for aging-in-place. The best real estate agents work within a niche market and know how to appeal to their demographics’ wants and needs. Call the Jones Team at RE/MAX Corridor (210) 414-8439. Financial Options for Senior Real Estate Buyers While selling their current home can help finance the purchase of a new property, some seniors may need additional financing to fund things such as accessibility modifications and smart home features. Most homeowners spend between $1,604 and $14,168 nationally for accessibility modifications. Since most seniors live on a fixed income, it’s important to find funding sources that have reasonable interest rates. Even better, applying for government grants can pay for renovations and those who receive them don’t have to pay anyone back at all. Medicare, Medicaid and veterans programs offer funding for those who qualify, as well. *** While most seniors want to age in place, most homes are not optimal when it comes to accessibility and safety. When searching for a new home, seniors should look for flat floor plans and a good location. A real estate agent that works in the retirement niche can help find the perfect house. While selling a current place can help fund the purchase of a new home, additional funds may be necessary for safety renovations. Loans, grants, and Medicare funding are all available for seniors who need it.


Tips For Senior Homebuyers: The Benefits Of Buying Over Renting

For many seniors, the decision to make a move after retirement comes due to a change in income and the need to downsize a bit. For some, buying a new home is a way to ensure that they are leaving something of value to their children or grandchildren. Building equity and having a place that is all your own, to do with as you wish, is one of the many benefits of owning a home.   The process is a big one, however, and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Think about your budget and how much space you need, as well as location; do you want a home that’s not too far from town? Or a home that’s only one story for ease of mobility? Write down all the things you want in a home and talk with your spouse or family members about each person’s needs.   Here are some of the best reasons to buy a home rather than renting.   You’ll be making a good investment   Buying a home is an investment, not only for your own future, but for the future of your family as well. While some people invest in stocks, buying a home means you get the benefit of the home’s entire value rather than earning on only your down payment.   You also get tax benefits from owning a home, such as writing off your mortgage interest and property taxes every year. These benefits often make owning a home as cheap or even cheaper than renting.   For more information on how buying can help you save money, read on here.   You can keep your monthly payment the same   Rent amounts will increase over time, but if you lock in your interest amount at signing, you can ensure your mortgage payment stays the same unless you decide to refinance. This will help you stick to a budget and keep you on track no matter what life throws at you.   You can go green   Renters can certainly make improvements in their lifestyle that will allow them to live in a more energy efficient way, but homeowners can think on a bigger scale. Because the house is yours to do with as you wish, you can install energy-saving appliances, solar panels that will keep you from overspending on heating and electricity bills, and an energy efficient roof. Not only will these improvements help the environment, but they can save you money all year round.   You can incorporate home automation   Technology continues to explode these days, and there are so many products on the market that can benefit senior homeowners. Self-adjusting thermostats will help you keep your utility bills in check, while some of the latest home security systems you can install yourself and monitor from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. There are also new options for lighting that enable you to adjust your lighting from an app whether you’re at home or away. The available options are seemingly endless and offer a homeowner a safer, more efficient home.   Save money   Homeowners tend to save more money than renters do, in part because they know they need to be responsible and put cash away for unforeseen circumstances, such as when the air conditioning goes on the fritz or when they need to buy a new appliance. These occurrences aren’t something a homeowner wants to think about, but it’s important to remember that unplanned things happen from time to time. Socking away some savings will ensure that you can take care of these things without too much stress.   “When you rent, the landlord picks up the taxes, insurance, maintenance and sometimes utilities. If you buy, plan on replacing the water heater some years, the back fence other years, the roof occasionally…if you can do some of it yourself, your cash outlays will be much less than the landlord’s. And you can do it yourself if you’re be willing to learn. Try Googling “leaky faucet” and you’ll find plenty of advice,” writes Bill Conerly of Forbes.   Buying a home is a big decision, and it takes a lot of research and planning to find the right place for you. However, if you’re tired of renting and feel that you’re ready to make the move to home ownership, the benefits can certainly outweigh the negatives.


Time to Downsize? Consider These Important Tips!

Facing the prospect of downsizing to a smaller, more accessible home can seem insurmountable. From carefully going through every treasured item you’ve accumulated for the last 20 or 30 years, to organizing and packing. Even picking a moving company feels like a monumental task. Add the emotions that come from leaving your long-cherished home and downsizing can quickly feel like a big downer.   There are plenty of upsides to consider, though. For example, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, by cutting your housing-related expenses you can free up income that allows you to draw down your savings at a slower rate. And don’t forget, a new home can also help eliminate things that have become burdensome as you’ve aged, like stairs, lawn maintenance and too much space to keep clean.   While plenty of sites offer a detailed checklist of all of the essential steps for downsizing, we’re going to take a look at a few specific tips to help you get started now.   Selecting a Moving Company   When selecting a moving company, it’s wise to remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Oftentimes, the finest moving companies won’t be the least expensive. It’s important to avoid fly-by-night companies or companies with new names, and to be wary of moving scams. Keep these tips in mind: Research moving companies you’re most interested in using and set about doing an initial screening of each one. Look at various review forums, like the Better Business Bureau or You’ll also want to check out the consumer advocacy site Make sure you end up with estimates from a minimum of three companies. Always ask for a written binding estimate or a not-to-exceed-estimate so as to cap moving costs. Before you make that final decision, call the FMCSA’s Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline at 888-368-7238 to check for any complaints.   Understanding How Your Animal Will Handle The Move   It’s never too early to start to thinking about how your pet is going to handle the transition. Here are some things you should do to help keep your animal settled during the process. Condition your pet by getting out a few boxes and suitcases in advance so your pet doesn’t associate those items with you leaving them. Train for any necessary behavior modifications in the smaller space. Talk to the vet about medication if your pet is displaying signs of anxiety. Either board your pet or leave them with a pet sitter on moving day. If possible, have a few of their items in place at the new home before they arrive so they have a familiar scent.   Don’t Try To Do It All   As you familiarize yourself with the various tasks of making the move, consider carefully what you want to take on versus what you may be able to outsource. The National Association of Senior Move Managers offers services that will step in where you want to be less involved, say packing for instance, or they’ll take you through the whole process from laying out your new space, deciding with you what you’ll keep and move, sorting, packing, moving, and setting up your new home.   Take Care of Yourself   Let’s face it, moving is stressful so there’s a few simple things you can do to make things easier on yourself. Give yourself plenty of time. Get plenty of sleep Listen to relaxing music as you sort, clean, or pack. Take time to enjoy things other than your move, such as exercise or reading. Eat healthy.   As you set about downsizing, try to focus on the positive outcomes of your move, like less yard work, making new friends, fewer cleaning chores, and so on. And remember, getting settled in the new spot will take time just as it did when you moved into your current home. Allow yourself some downtime to recoup from the stress of the move, then get out there and make the most of your new neighborhood.


HUD/EPA Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Regulations

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (Title X of Public Law 102-550) directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to jointly issue regulations requiring disclosure of certain information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in residential real estate transactions. After considerable delay, those regulations (which appear at 24 C.F.R. Part 35 and 40 C.F.R. Part 745) were issued in final form on March 6, 1996, and are summarized below. NAR has developed a publication describing the requirements of the Regulations and how to comply with them entitled Lead-Based Paint – A Guide To Complying With the New Federal EPA/HUD Disclosure Regulations. This publication is available for $5.00 per copy (with discounts also available on larger orders), and can be ordered by calling NAR Customer Service at (800) 874-6500. Overnight or next day delivery is also available. 1. Properties To Which the Requirements Apply. The Regulations apply to sale or lease transactions of “target housing,” that is, residential property completed before 1978, with certain exceptions: Sales at foreclosure; Leases of property which has been inspected and found to be lead-based paint free by an inspector certified by a Federal or Federally accredited State or tribal certification program; Short term leases of 100 days or less where no lease renewal or extension can occur; Renewal of existing leases, so long as no new information about lead-based paint on the premises has come into the possession of the owner, and the required information was disclosed when the lease was originally created. (In the case of leases which automatically convert to “month-to-month” after a expiration of a fixed term, disclosure must be made when the lease first converts (if not made at the time the lease was created), but not each month thereafter); 0-bedroom dwellings; Housing designed for the elderly or disabled, but only it no children under the age of 6 reside or are expected to reside in such housing. Housing completed before 1978 has been interpreted to mean not only that which was completed and/or occupied before January 1, 1978, but also that for which a building permit was issued before that date, or if no permit was required, where construction began before that date. 2. Effective Date. The effective date of the Regulations is September 6, 1996 for owners of 5 residential dwellings (apartment or condominium units, as well as townhouses or single-family homes), and December 6, 1996 for owners of fewer than 5 dwellings. HUD has announced in Mortgagee Letter 96-29 that the form presently required to be signed in the case of properties financed by FHA-insured mortgage loans will not be required after December 6, 1996.   3. Obligations of Sellers, Lessors and Real Estate Agents. Sellers and lessors of housing to which the regulations apply must provide the information and perform the other duties described below to purchasers/lessees. Any agent hired by a seller or lessor to market the property must insure the seller or lessor’s compliance with the requirements of the Regulations. (a) The agent must specifically inform the seller/lessor of his disclosure obligations, described below. (b) The purchaser or lessee must be provided the following: All information the seller or lessor may have regarding known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards on the property; Copies of any prior reports of testing for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazard evaluation of the property; A copy of the EPA publication Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home, or a federally-approved equivalent publication; (c) Sales contracts and leases must include specific lead-based paint warning” language, which is specifically prescribed in the Regulations. (d) A “Disclosure and Acknowledgment” statement confirming that the disclosures have been made, signed by both parties to the transaction and the broker(s) involved, must be included as a part of the contract for sale or lease; (e) Property purchasers (but not renters) must be provided an opportunity to have the property tested  for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards during a ten day period prior to the time when the purchaser becomes obligated under the contract, although that period may be modified by agreement between the seller and purchaser, or waived by the purchaser entirely.   If a purchaser or lessee makes an offer to buy or lease prior to receiving the required disclosures, the seller or lessor may not accept the offer until the information is provided and the purchaser or lessee has the opportunity to review it and, if desired, to change the terms of the offer. Sellers, lessors and their agents have no duty to conduct testing of the property for lead-based paint of lead-based paint hazards. Their only obligation is to provide known information, as described above, regarding lead-based paint or lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards on the premises. Copies of EPA’s publication Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home may be purchased by calling (800) 424-LEAD. The publication is also available on NAR’s Website at, on both the EPA and HUD Websites ( and, as well as that of the National Safety Council ( A copy was also published in the July, 1996 issue of Today’s REALTOR®. It is not copyrighted and may be photocopied freely.   4. Who Is An Agent? The Regulations define an agent as “any party who enters into a contract with a seller or lessor, including any party who enters into a contract with a representative of the seller or lessor, for the purpose of selling or leasing” a property to which the Regulations apply. The duty of an agent to insure the seller’s or lessor’s compliance with these disclosure requirements is imposed on any agent hired by the seller or lessor to market the property, including both listing agents and selling agents (whether they are buyer’s agents, subagents, or, it would appear, “facilitators” or transaction brokers), and excludes only agents retained and compensated exclusively by the buyer. 5. The Ten-Day Testing Period. Although the Regulations do not explicitly so provide, EPA and HUD have indicated that they intend that the 10-day testing period be conducted much like home inspection contingencies operate. That is, pursuant to language incorporated in the sales contract, the purchaser is permitted conduct such lead-based paint testing or risk assessment as he deems appropriate and, if the results are unacceptable, can


Webcast Recording: Using a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a Home

Posted in Buyers, Mortgage Financing, Professional Development, Working with Clients, by Sam Silverstein on February 24, 2017 REALTOR® Magazine recently hosted a live webcast about how reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), can be used to help seniors finance the purchase of a home in addition to their traditional purpose of enabling people to borrow against the equity in a property where they already live. The program took place on Feb. 22, 2017. Panelists included Scott Trembley, CEO of The Trembley Group, a real estate firm in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that handles home purchases with HECMs; and Frank McInerney, a loan specialist with Reverse Mortgage Funding in Bloomfield, N.J. Jon Boughtin of NAR Communications hosted the program. More information about reverse mortgages Find a reverse mortgage lender


Money’s Available to Buy But Many Renters Don’t Know It

Posted in Financing & Credit, Working with Clients, by Robert Freedman on March 16, 2017 Millions of households are mortgage-ready but don’t try to buy because they can’t come up with a downpayment. And yet, hundreds of downpayment assistance programs around the country are available and go largely untapped. Small To be sure, many households won’t qualify for downpayment assistance. They simply earn too much money. But more people than you might realize would qualify if they would only apply. Because in many markets, the allowable income level is pretty high, and we’re not just talking about high-cost markets like San Francisco, where the median home price is about $1 million. There are more than a thousand downpayment assistance programs around the country. Each one is unique, with its own eligibility requirements, home-price limits, and resale restrictions. But these programs also share many features. The disconnect between the millions of households who could buy if they only had downpayment money and the availability of so many programs to help them creates an opportunity for you as a real estate professional. No one is in a better position to connect households with assistance programs than you are. It’s because of this opportunity to expand your market that REALTOR® Magazine hosted a live webcast on April 20. The goal was to let you know how you can find out instantly what programs are available for households in your area. Chrane Program experts were Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource in Atlanta, and Brenda Small, GRI, associate broker with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C. They walked real estate professionals through the programs available, what they have in common with one another, and how you and your customers can tap into resources in your market instantly. They debunked myths about the programs, too. And they answered questions in real time. Watch the recorded version of the webcast now.


8 Dumb Reasons People Can’t Buy a Home


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