Life Insurance versus Mortgage Insurance

Life Insurance versus Mortgage Insurance, is what some of my clients ask me when they are purchasing a house. A financial advisor I know in Ottawa shared with me a practical chart to explain the difference between life insurance and mortgage insurance:

PERSONAL LIFE INSURANCE MORTGAGE INSURANCE
  • Insures you
  • You decide who to name as your beneficiary
  • Renewable, convertible term insurance
  • Underwriting is done at the time of application
  • You determine the amount of the coverage; your coverage remains same
  • You own the policy
  • It is yours, you keep it
  • Your beneficiary decides how to use the money
    • Insures your mortgage
    • Lender is the beneficiary
    • Non-renewable, non-convertible term insurance
    • Underwriting is done at the time of the death
    • Covers the exact amount of mortgage balance; as you pay down your mortgage your coverage decreases but your premiums remain same; cost per $1000 of coverage increases
    • Lender owns the policy
    • When you change your lender you cannot transfer your insurance
    • Lender automatically pays remaining mortgage balance
    • Shared by Nilay Erisoglu, Financial Security Advisor, Freedom 55 Financial Nilay.erisoglu@f55f.com

Let me go through some more details of Life Insurance versus Mortgage Insurance

Life Insurance

Mainly life insurance is used for insuring yourself, you decide who you name as the beneficiary (your spouse, family member, etc) and they decide on how to use the money, the amount of money paid out to the beneficiary never changes.

Life insurance is also renewable, and convertible term insurance. In Life insurance you have protection for the duration of the policy. The duration usually is around 10 to 30 years or sometimes to an age like 70 or 80. It all depends on the term you purchase and the underwriting is done at the time of the application.

In life Insurance you determine the amount of the coverage; your coverage remains same during the policy. When you plan to sell or change lender for you mortgage, your life insurance remains the same and does not get affected, it stays with you.

Life insurance is usually less expensive than mortgage insurance. Although a note of caution that if you intend to get for another term, you could potentially be paying a higher premium depending on the age and your health. Typical the enrollment process for term life insurance is more complex than applying for mortgage insurance, since life insurance policies require a medical exam in order to secure coverage.

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage Insurance insures your mortgage, and the lender is the beneficiary (not someone whom you have named). It is non-renewable, and it is non-convertible term insurance. Typically the underwriting is done at the time of the death. Mortgage insurance covers the exact amount of mortgage balance; as you pay down your mortgage, your coverage decreases but your premiums remain same…

In Mortgage Insurance the lender owns the policy and if you change your lender you cannot transfer your insurance to the new property. The lender automatically pays remaining mortgage balance in the case of death.

Some advantages of mortgage insurance are that they are very convenient, they often do not require any medical exam. You typically will purchase the insurance through your bank or the financial institute that lend the money for your mortgage. Mortgage insurance is usually added to the lender’s monthly mortgage payments.

The downside of mortgage insurance is they are usually more expensive than life insurance although more easy to attain from a bank. CBC Marketplace also did a series of mortgage insurance.

I hope this blog post helps explain the difference between Life insurance versus Mortgage insurance and last but not least I hope your winter is going well with a lot of fresh air experiences and you are getting ready for a wonderful spring coming up with high energy.,..Whether your plans to relocate, to downsize, to aim for a change or investment, give me a shout and lets get the ball rolling for your next chapter…

Cheers!

Written by Nilay Ertemur

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Building Green Homes in Canada

Did you know around 20 percent of the energy consumed in Canada is used in our homes? Purchasing an energy-efficient house or turning one by energy-saving renovations into a green home can offer big savings for home owners.

CMHC has a slogan “Help the Planet, Help Your Wallet” which has added environmentally friendly features to the Mortgage Loan Insurance it offers. If you use CMHC insured financing to buy an energy-efficient home, purchase a house and make energy-saving renovations or renovate your existing home to make it more energy-efficient, there is a 10% refund on the Mortgage Loan Insurance premium, and a premium refund for a longer amortization period (if applicable) may be available to you.

This also applies to if you’re thinking of building an energy-efficient home.

How it works

Step 1: Documentation

Find out how energy-efficient your house or unit is and obtain the supporting documentation

For houses and units located in low rise residential buildings the house or unit must:

    • have been built under a CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program; or
    • have been assessed by a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) qualified energy adviser
    • and have an EnerGuide rating that complies with the applicable requirement stated below:
For purchases with a closing date: Energy Guide Rating Required
On or after January 1st, 2013 82
From April 1st, 2010 to December 31st, 2012 80
From July 27st, 2005 to March 31st, 2010 77

You must obtain and provide CMHC with one of the following supporting documents:

The CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program certification; or the first page of the EnerGuide performance report showing the EnerGuide rating of the house.

To be eligible, the supporting documentation must be dated no more than five years prior to the date of the application for a partial premium refund. Where the applicable supporting documentation is older than 5 years, the borrower is required to obtain a current energy efficiency evaluation.

This credit also applies to high rise residential buildings. If you are planning on building a new home and your builder is not a member of a CMHC-eligible energy-efficient building program, you should have an energy adviser evaluate the building plans before the house is built. This can help you ensure that you will meet CMHC’s requirements once the construction of the home is complete and it is evaluated.

Step 2: If required, boost your energy efficiency

If the house you plan to buy does not meet the applicable energy-efficiency requirement, to be eligible for a refund, you will need to obtain an EnerGuide rating through an NRCan qualified energy adviser and renovate using part of the CMHC insured funds based on your energy adviser’s list of recommendations in order to increase your score by at least 5 points and to a minimum overall rating of 40.

Step 3: Discuss and arrange a CMHC-insured mortgage

Talk to your lender and ask for a CMHC insured mortgage. (The rules have just changed to prevent fraud and misuse of funds).

Step 4: Confirm the improvement

After you make the renovations recommended by your energy advisor, you will need to have a second assessment done to determine the energy-saving effectiveness of the renovations.

Step 5: Apply for Refund

Apply for your Premium Refund

The following are steps for if you own a home and are thinking of renovating to make your home more energy-efficient:

Step 1: Obtain an energy rating for your home.

To qualify for this refund, you must carry out the steps described below within a reasonable time after funding of the CMHC insured loan. Normally, the time period between the date of funding (purchase with improvements or refinance) and the date of the post-retrofit assessment should not exceed 24 months.

Contact an NRCan qualified energy adviser to obtain the current energy rating for your home. You will receive a list of straightforward recommendations to increase your energy rating.

Step 2: Discuss CMHC insured refinancing.

Talk to your lender or your financial institution about which options are available to you. (The rules have just changed to prevent fraud and misuse of funds)

Step 3: Improve your rating

Improve your rating by using your energy adviser’s recommendations, renovate or upgrade to increase your energy rating.

Step 4: Confirm

Confirm the improvement by your energy adviser coming in and they will assess your home again after the energy-saving renovations are finished. If this test shows that the house’s energy rating has improved by at least 5 points and has achieved an overall rating of at least 40, a premium refund may be available.

Step 5: Apply

Apply for your Premium Refund online or through paper.

NRCan has developed an energy assessment and labeling system to help homeowners make energy-saving choices when buying a home or renovating. For a fee, an NRCan qualified energy adviser will evaluate the house to determine its energy efficiency rating on a scale of 0 – 100.

For more detailed information and specifics of these sorts of programs, please visit the NRCan web Site.
and if you are looking for a green home please feel free to get in touch with me.

Cheers!

Nilay Ertemur

References: http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm

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Happy new year everyone!

It is the second week of the new year and we are well immersed back into school, work and it’s time to evaluate Ottawa 2016 Real Estate Market!

In order for us to make any kind of prediction for the future, we need to look at what has happened at least in 2015 and its relation to the previous year (2014).  Members of the Ottawa Real Estate Board sold 703 residential properties in December through the Board’s Multiple Listing Service® System, compared with 638 in December 2014, an increase of 10.2 per cent. The five-year average for December sales is 653. The total number of residential and condo units sold through the Board’s MLS® System throughout all of 2015 was 14,658, compared with 13,919 in 2014, an increase of 5.3 per cent. Separately, residential and condo unit sales each outperformed the 2014 numbers. (OREB)

As for the general Canada picture in real estate of 2016, national sales are forecast to reach 498,600, down 1.1 per cent from 2015 as activity in B.C. and Ontario moderates and housing market conditions soften in Alberta. Moreover, interest rates are now expected to begin rising later than previously predicted. They are expected to remain on hold until late 2016, therefore low interest rates will continue to support sales and prices in near future (CREA).

From a mortgage side of the picture, home buyers will have to put a 10% down payment on the portion of the price of a home over $500,000. Anything under $500,000 will still only require a 5%  down payment. The changes are to take effect Feb. 15, 2016 (CBC).

For the rental market in Ottawa, in 2016, the vacancy rate will move down once more to 2.4 per cent. As for the resale market over the 2015-2016 period, sales of existing homes are expected to remain fairly flat with a downward trend. Employment should rise slightly into 2016 as overall economic activity stabilizes and the LRT project expands further.  (CMHC)

In brief, this year is still good here in the capital to make plans with your real estate aspirations, just contact me through your most preferred way communication, and I will be happy to serve you or any of your referrals.

Cheers!

Author: Nilay Ertemur

REFERENCES:

http://www.crea.ca/stats/quarterly-forecasts

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/morneau-home-ownership-finance-1.3360

http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/esub/64311/64311_2015_B01.pdf

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LRT update from the city mayor, Jim Watson:
On September Wednesday the 16th, I was at a briefing conference organized by Ottawa Young Professionals Network for the city realtors to get updated on various Ottawa City News!
Accordingly, the LRT project is to create around 20 thousand more jobs!
At the moment the number of people can be accommodated into Downtown core is 9.000 but with LRT there will be around 24 thousand people capacity per hour into downtown core!
60 percent of the Ottawa core businesses think that this is a positive direction and the figure is expected to go higher as the project gets closer to finishing!
Meanwhile, Lyon station is 84%, Rideau is 44 % and the Parliament Station is 40 % done.
Once the stage 1 process gets opened to public use, then the Stage 2 construction is expected to start for Algonquin, Carleton, Ottawa Universities, Le Cite College, Bayshore and Place de Orleans. Plans are to extend the LRT from Bayshore to Moodie and then to Kanata, and even to extend it to Gatineau!

Spark Street news update: So far the street has lots of stakeholders with federal government owning all the buildings on the north side of the street, but due to the complexity of the street governance, leases have tended to be short term, with lots of empty stores… Recently some stores are opening and some new investment has been in place and more to happen on the street according to the mayor!

Last but not the least, Canada’s 150th year anniversary which will take place in 2017 is supposed to be the talk of the country! Guy Laflamme – Chairperson of the Ottawa 2017 Committee explained a new Ottawa brand is expected to be created, and the capital has the desire to lead the celebrations!
Arts and the culture will be the focus of these celebrations, citizens and visitors will have a chance to experience Ottawa like never before! The celebrations are expected to bring a lasting effect in terms of economic growth and the image of the city! Through complimentary events/ attractions, and community grassroots activities, and with more specifically welcoming/celebrating cultures in Landsdowne Park, community gardens, kitchens, 1 million trees planting initiative, the advise is to finish your basement to have visitors over in Ottawa in coming years!
And call me for any of your investment or personal real estate plans since the city is becoming more and more attractive for everyone!
Cheers!
Nilay Ertemur

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Canada is 148 years old in 2015! Celebrate it with friends, neighbors, family at the parks, in the streets and with a good spirit!
Besides Parliament Hill, Major’s Hill Park, Jacques Cartier Park, check out what your favourite museum have planned for this special day! And here is what is open and close

The Creation of Canada Day

July 1, 1867: The British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) created Canada.

June 20, 1868: Governor General Lord Monck signs a proclamation that requests all Her Majesty’s subjects across Canada to celebrate July 1.

1879: A federal law makes July 1 a statutory holiday as the “anniversary of Confederation,” which is later called “Dominion Day.”

October 27, 1982: July 1, “Dominion Day” officially becomes Canada Day.
Enjoy the day and being Canadian!

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How to Cool Down This Summer: (Swimming in Ottawa)

Summer in Ottawa can get pretty muggy and hot, here are 11 tips of helping you cool down in the capital and then check out the map that locates all the beaches, swimming and wading pools (It doesn’t include the splash pools)

  1. Drink lots of water – Remember to balance out the dehydration with extra water
  2. Choose fruits and veggies like watermelon contain high water content
  3. Make some custom blend of ice herbal tea with lots of ice, but remember those ice-caps in Tim Hortons do contain lots of sugar=calories
  4. When outside, wear a hat, sunscreen, cotton fabric and loose clothing
  5. Pull your curtains – If you have windows facing west side of the house, keeping those curtains or blinds closed helps to block the heat coming inside
  6. Open bathroom windows when you take a shower, it helps to vent out the humidity out of the window
  7. Skip the dishwasher drying cycle, why create more heat when one can dry their dishes in the rack, and that helps to save on your energy bill.
  8. Turn off the pilot light of your fireplace during warm months, one can turn them back on in winter and it is easy!
  9. Check your doors and windows weather stripping, just like winter brings in cold air, summer brings in the warm hot air, therefore reseal any weather stripping that is wearing out.
  10. Attic insulation is not only for winter but it also works equally well in the summer. It helps to keep the hot attic air from coming into the house. Check out my previous posting on attic insulation on how to insulate your attic.
  11. Visit a friends/family/neighbour swimming pool, to cool down the heat

Last but not least one can always go to a pool or beach and cool themselves off, here is a list of public swimming pools, beaches, and wading pools provided below with a map, feel free to share the map and this post.

Note: All wading pools and beaches are free in Ottawa. There is a cost associated with the swimming pools, one can check the prices at City of Ottawa.

Blue – Are outdoor pools
Black – Are indoor pools
Green – Are Wading pools
Orange – Are beaches


Author Nilay Ertemur

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Realtors (real estate agent) these days not only need to know you at a personal level, become experts in their local market area and get involved in the community but also they need to be good at using social media networks where more and more people spend time every day.

There is no question that the power of person to person and voice to voice communication are the most important elements for trust in any given relationship but when the traditional marketing channels are being replaced with the new ones, is your realtor following and adapting to these changes well? The things that they do to market their business is a good indicator of how they would market your house.

Here is a list of what your realtor should be doing in order to market your property or the industry efficiently. Not all of them are necessary but doing at least couple of them well is important in today’s real estate market.

1-Having a well thought and organized website or blog

This is where you can see lots of details regarding your realtor; their testimonials, causes they believe in, communities they serve, and of course their featured listings…

2-Have a business Facebook page

Running a separate professional FB page where they do their announcements, engagements and marketing in general is a good indicator that they will spend the time on your property making sure that it is being shown and advertised properly.

3-Have a LinkedIn account:

This is where you can see what your realtor has done professionally and is interested in. What connections they have and how they engage with their audience is again important in evaluating their performance in marketing or negotiation process, which is crucial in real estate.

4-Being on Twitter

Whether they are following industry related news, or posting their recent listings, open houses, etc indicates that they are active and motivated and they will be when it comes to your house marketing efforts.

5-Google+

After all Google is where people mostly go to search anything. Hence being on the social media outlet of Google gives your realtor more visibility and search engine optimization capabilities, which benefits your property in return.

6-Pinterest

What are their likes, chosen pics tell you the taste they have when it comes to staging your house, interior design, and related areas.

7-Instagram

How they are engaging with the followers, what they share, and emphasize, tell you about their taste of life and motivation they have, and after all you are trying to find that agent who can get the job done yet someone at your or industry communication level so that the process of buying or selling becomes enjoyable and easy.

8-Youtube

Search and see if they created a Youtube channel where they share their listing videos, their own marketing material, etc. Being shy on the Internet when it comes to real estate is just not a very good sign these days esp for further exposure and visibility. There are some other social media outlets such as Tumblr, Flickr, etc therefore like anything else, do your homework and choose your realtor with confidence…

Cheers!

Nilay Ertemur

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Forecasting 2015 Housing Market in Ottawa

As we all know predictions are not easy, especially for the future, but we can certainly go through some stats to find out how the market has been doing in the near past, to figure out how this year might turn out for Ottawa.

Mortgage and interest rate cut

Let’s look at the mortgage picture first, the average five-year mortgage rate in Canada is at a record-low 4.79%, according to central-bank data (Source: Financial Post ). Lower rates can be obtained from banks and other private lenders, such as Mortgage Brokers Ottawa, the mortgage rate on their site states 2.89 for a 5 year fixed (26 Jan 2015).
On 21 Jan 2015, Bank of Canada has lowered its interest rate to 0.75, it dropped the lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point. What that means is the cut will result in lower interest rates for variable rate mortgages, lines of credit and other loans that float with prime rates. They have called that fixed rates would be lowered also, and Royal Bank offered a five-year fixed rate of 2.84% on Jan. 24. (Source: Financial Post)

Prices of Houses and Comparisons

If we compare 2013 to 2014 market prices, we see some increases.

Month Average Home Sale Price Result
January 2014 $346,744 increase of 1.0% over January 2013
February 2014 $353,407 ncrease of 2.0% over February 2013
March 2014 $359,051 increase of 0.3% over March 2013
April 2014 $374,015 increase of 0.8% over April 2013
May 2014 $381,172 increase of 3.2% over May 2013

Ottawa is a healthy market that prices don’t go up and down like they do in some other Canadian cities, where there could be a very large influx of price ups and downs such as in Alberta… Prices of houses are still slowly going up here in Ottawa, with some minor adjustments in various neighbourhoods. 2014 was a year that average days on the market for a property increased significantly from the previous years and that was certainly not usual. Properties considered as luxurious in remote areas and the ones far from Ottawa core got hit first when it came to price reductions, however many city properties still held their value and on average saw a price increase by around 1 % in 2014.

And last but not least, this chart is key for us to understand what the economy has been doing in the near past and what the expected figures are for the coming years.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Total Employment (000s) 697.6 687.4 696.5 706.0 715.5
% change 2.4 -1.5 1.3 1.4 1.3
Unemployment Rate 6.4 6.3 6.5 6.0 5.9
MLS® Res. Sales 17,184 16,539 16,472 16,750 17,400
% change 0.2 -3.8 -0.4 1.7 3.9
MLS® Res. Avg. Price 327,656 334,320 339,785 344,000 350,000
% change 2.4 2.0 1.6 1.2 1.7
Residential Permits (Units) 8,211 6,643 8,950 7,800 8,000
% change 2.7 -19.1 34.7 -12.8 2.6

Source (Ontario Chamber Commerce)

Conclusion

As we can see the prediction of 2015 would be business might proceed as usual, some adjustments are in effect but there are still increases in price for some areas in Ottawa. If you are planning for your new purchase or selling your existing house, or investment contact me and I will be able to provide you a FREE CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) report of your house value, or for the area you are looking for.

Here are some stats you can tweet:

ottawa2015

Ottawa 2015 prediction

Disclaimer: As this article has been published by the author, mortgage rates might have been changed again in the last couple of days, therefore it is recommended to talk to a mortgage broker about the latest rates and mortgage rules and regulations.

Sources:
Financial Post
CBC News

Author: Nilay Ertemur

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The old man winter is coming soon, and since the weather has changed in early September here in Ottawa, most people are probably thinking (although one does not want to) about ways to winterize their homes.

Here are 10 tips to get your home ready for the winter:

1. Clean your gutters
September onward would be the best time to clean up all the tree branches, leaves or toys that are stuck in the gutters. You do not want the fall rain to be draining towards your house, you want it away from your foundation, having them cleared for rain/water flow would benefit any home. If you have a tree that sheds it’s leaves late in fall, you may wish to do this later in the season.

2. Replace your furnace filter
Most of us forget about replacing our furnace filters (which causes us to reach the furnace company for a service call only for them to advise us to change our filter and the furnace works just fine again) they do get dusty over the summer even though your furnace may not be running that much (remember it still runs if you have an air conditioning unit), replace your filter and mark the date on your calendar so that you know when the filter was last changed.

3. Caulk any gaps at windows or doors
Caulking is one of the cheapest solutions to block draft air coming into your home. The process is by simply moving your hand around the edges of your door and windows and find out if there is any air coming in. Caulk around where you feel the draft, don’t forget the attic door, and your laundry dryer vent might need caulking as well.

4. Check door and garage door weatherstripping
Check the main entrance door weatherstripping, if its damaged, replace it and also the weatherstripping for the door that enters your house through the garage. There is weather stripping for your outside garage doors that one can purchase from Lowes or Home Depot. Having garage door sealers/weatherstrips adds an extra layer or blockage of wind and breeze, thus it keeps your garage and house warmer.

5. Insulate electrical outlets and switches
Most people may not realize that electrical outlets also bring in some draft air into houses, and one can purchase a simple styrofoam socket sealer from Home Depot or Lowes. Remember when working with electricity, one has to turn it off from the main electrical panel before starting to unscrew any socket.

6. Add attic insulation
Houses lose most heat through the roof/attic, I have an article of how to insulate your attic, and it does really help in warming your house when you increase your attic insulation!

7. Reverse your ceiling fan
Most people think of using their ceiling fans only in summer, but in winter if you reverse the rotation (i.e running clockwise) it will bring back the warm air from the ceiling back down to be recirculated.

8. Wrap those pipes
Turn off those outside water sprinklers or faucets so that you don’t get your pipe frozen and end up with unpleasant insurance claims and flooding problems , turn them off from the inside if you can access them, also get pre-molded pipe sleeves to wrap up any hot water pipe so that less heat is lost through them for your hot water tank.

9. Get a programmable thermostat
If you are still using a non-programmable thermostat, go and obtain one that you can program, it will save you money. Hydro Ottawa peak saver plus runs a free program to get free thermostat till the end of September 2014.

10. Seal up any ducts
The ducts that run around your house can also be sealed up with aluminum foil tape, if you find/reach any heating duct, check if there is any leakage around them, usually leakage is found around the joints. Use your hands to feel if there is any breeze, and put some extra tape to seal it up.

And remember to enjoy winter, it will not last forever…

Author: Nilay Ertemur

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Recently, a friend of mine was asking me about the process of hiring a real estate agent, and I thought it would be a great blog post!

Here are some of the questions that people tend to ask me and my colleagues about buying and selling especially in terms of commissions and remuneration.

Please note, I have already written other posts on various points that are discussed in this post.

Question: I am planning to sell my property, can you explain to me how hiring a real estate agent works?
Answer: Its not that complicated, you would first make an appointment with a real estate agent and they will most likely come to your place and take a look at your property. Usually agents bring in comparables (similar to your house-sold within 6 months to a year or a shorter time period depending on the property type and desired individual goals of the seller) to you at this meeting so that you have an idea of what the latest prices are in the market around your neighbourhood. If you agree, they will do a comparative market analysis after viewing your property, prepare a detailed report which gives a realistic price and marketing plan for your house.

Question: So how does commission works, how much do I pay?
Answer: There is usually a 5% rate for residential properties when you sell, however, this might vary depending on various brokerages and what types of services they offer. From that 5%, typically 2.5% goes to the listing agents’ brokerage (the agent who is selling your property) and the other 2.5% goes to the buyer agent’s brokerage. For example, if you are selling for 100, 000 then 2.5% goes to the brokerage who is selling your house (say it is my brokerage selling your property), and 2.5% goes to the brokerage who brings in the customer for your property. With the typical 2,5 % rate, the breakdown of the commissions within a brokerage between the sales person and the office changes from one brand/office to the other.

Question: But what if the buyer and seller agents are the same agent?
Answer: In those situations where I bring you a customer which is what we call as a multiple representation situation in the industry, you are still my client and my fiduciary duties are to you, and most of the time, serious buyers usually have their own agents, so such situations do happen, but are rare and open to discussions.

Question: As a buyer, if I want to buy a property, do I have to pay a commission to the agent?
Answer: No, as a buyer you usually* don’t pay the agent, only sellers pay a commission to their listing agent (a total commission) and the listing agent offers usually half of that amount  to the selling agent. Please note, every brokerage and sales person might choose various paths when it comes to commissions.

Question: I am currently renting and want to buy a property, how can an agent help?
Answer: Lets give an example, if Barbara and Peter are looking for a property for 300K, I would find them them a property in the area that they plan to live (close to work, school, 3 bedroom, single garage, etc) and make appointments for them for the houses that they like to see within their price range, from there, if they like one of the houses I showed or they have seen on an open house, I would represent my clients (Barbara & Peter), place an offer, negotiate the best price, closing date and conditions for them.

Question: How much closing costs should I put aside before purchasing a place?
Answer: Closing costs are anything from legal fees to moving expenses to land title fee and usually you should have 2% of the house value as the closing cost.
I have a blog post that covers this process.

Question: What is the benefit of using an agent for selling my property?
Answer: Your agent is a trained professional, they go through extensive pre-licensing courses and exams to get licensed and to practice in real estate. They go through an extensive code of ethics, and your interest is put first. Agents have access to their local MLS systems, which enable them to do market research for you and be able to price your house accordingly. They have the insight to your current market conditions, and provide you with price guidance. They will better your property for you, help you get it ready for the market, stage it, video/photograph it professionally and will expose your property to many more potential buyers using unique marketing strategies. Agents will help you to get the most value for your home. They act as a buffer for you and the buyer and negotiate on your behalf, they also help answer any questions through the entire (closing) process or even after! The service a good agent provides makes the entire process safer, easier and smarter for you.

Question: What is the benefit of using an agent for buying a property?
Answer: A real estate agent can help you research and find the exact property that you wish to purchase. They have full access to MLS systems that allow them to cater the search criteria to your needs. They can quickly tell you if a house is overpriced, underpriced, or priced right. They will be able to tackle the paperwork that it requires to purchase a property, and they will be able to represent you to negotiate the price professionally and calmly. Last but not least, using an agent to purchase a property does not cost you and they will be able to represent you as their clients, be able to hold and represent your rights as a purchaser.

There is always the next blog post to cover various more aspects and interesting dynamics of real estate…Stay tuned…

Author: Nilay Ertemur

References:
http://home.howstuffworks.com/real-estate/buying-home/10-benefits-of-using-a-real-estate-agent.htm
http://homebuying.about.com/od/realestateagent1/qt/AboutREAgents.htm
http://homebuying.about.com/od/realestateagents/tp/Whyhireagent.htm

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