Dear Grumpy Realtor,
The seller has accepted my offer and I’m anxious to move into the house and avoid paying the extra rent at my current apartment. Do I have to wait until closing, or can I get in early?
Itching to Move
Slow it down there, partner. Maybe is the answer. You probably should not move in before closing because there is risk involved with this decision…risks of delays, risks of not getting you financing and on and on. I applaud your enthusiasm, but buying or selling a home takes a long time, and every step needs to be carried out – all the I’s crossed and T’s dotted. Put some cortisone on that itch and wait it out. The seller surely has plenty of loose ends to tie up before you come battering down their door. Now if the house is vacant and everything’s been going smoothly, the seller might agree to a temporary lease (before closing) but you will probably be asked to pay a little rent to the seller. Ask your realtor about this scenario.
Hi Grumpy Realtor,
This may sound like a stupid question, but is it always necessary to talk to a bank before looking at houses? Bankers make me nervous.
Dear Jitter Bug,
If bankers make you nervous, you are absolutely going to hate the home buying process and should probably stick to renting. Talking to the fat cats is step number one in the process. How else will you be able to determine the size of your loan, or what sort of assistance programs you may be qualify for? The big scary mortgage man has a lot of tips and tricks that you can use to your advantage. Go. Today. Unless you happen to have a cool million stuffed in your mattress, then who needs a loan? Well, I do. Otherwise, suck it up and go get a professional to pave the way for you. And remember: There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.
Dear Grumpy Realtor,
My realtor strongly suggested that I consider “title insurance” before getting into the purchase of a home. What the heck is that? Seems like a scam to me, but I figured you’d set the record straight.
Bleeding Me Dry
You certainly don’t NEED title insurance, as long as you can sleep at night with the notion that some clerical error (or human malice or stupidity) from years ago won’t come roaring back to bite you on the keister and land your family on the streets. Basically, you’re dropping a small amount (usually around a grand) to ensure that you and the bank are covered in the event that the sale of the house wasn’t technically legal from something that happened in the past. For instance, maybe the lady you’re buying from co-owned it with her now ex-husband and is selling it behind his back. Or that even further back in the house’s history, the proper steps were not all followed to allow legal transfer of the title. Title insurance covers your massive financial investment in the event that your house turns out not to legally be yours after all. Sweet dreams!
Dear Mr. Grump,,
A house in my sister’s neighborhood just went up for sale with a local realtor. Is it kosher for us to pop by and talk to the owners about the house, or is that only allowed in the case of “For Sale by Owner” sales?
Dear Too Neighborly Ned,
While it’s not illegal or unethical for you to contact the current owners directly, it’s something that we realtors really hate. Most likely the realtor has an “Exclusive” listing agreement with that seller and in order for you to see & buy you would have to use your personal realtor or ask the listing agent to help you in the process. People generally use a realtor so they don’t have to do the showings & make the appointments themselves. Good listing agents will coach the sellers not to show the house to anyone…instead have their agent set up the showing. If you don’t have an agent the listing agent would be happy to help you…in real estate terms this is called “Intermediary”.
I have been working hard over the past several years to improve my credit score, but it’s still not the best. How will this affect me in trying to get a mortgage loan? Is there a minimum level below which you shouldn’t even bother?
-Credit Where Credit Is Due
Dear Crunchy Credit,
I’m proud you are trying so hard to correct your bad credit. If it were up to me we would be educating our children on how not to fall into this bad credit pit, because it is so hard to get out of. Stop buying and start selling off stuff to pay off your debt. Find a good mortage lender who your realtor recommends and they can coach you on what you have to do to land a loan for a new house. Be patient, though, it might take a year or two.
Dear Grumpy Realtor,
If I have a foreclosure on my record and move to another state, will the record follow me? It’s been a few years.
Trying to Start Again
I hate to break this to you, but your record is your record. You don’t get time off for good behavior, hardships, or packing up and going on the lam. You can almost certainly find a lender that will give you a high-risk loan for your next endeavor, but the smart money might be on just waiting until 7-10 years have passed before you try again. Otherwise you’ll be paying through the nose. Now let that be a lesson to you.
My wife and I are buying our first home. What kind of tax breaks can we utilize?
The Tax Man Cometh
Dear Tax Man,
Is the name of this column “The Grumpy Beancounter?” I am not qualified to give tax advice, so you really need to take this up with a CPA or tax lawyer.
I know that if you own and occupy your home you can itemize property taxes as well as interest paid on the mortgage. You can probably even get away with deducting the points and prepaid interest you make during the actual purchase. But in the end, it seems like no two cases are ever the same. That’s
why you should take questions like these to a tax professional. You’ve gotta be super careful when dealing with the IRS. That’s how they got Al Capone, ya know.
Dear Grumpty Realtor,
I can’t keep up with my mortgage and am afraid that I’ll soon be facing foreclosure. Is there any other option for me?
Foreclosures are so 2008. I can understand why you’d like to avoid the hassle, but if you are consistently late on your house payments and there is no hope for the future, foreclosure may be your future. The process is a big long pain in the… credit score… and will undoubtedly cause several sleepless nights. My best advice is become best friends with your bank. You can try to get the bank to agree to something called a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, in which you turn over the property and agree that no more money changes hands. If you’re lucky, they might give you time to sell your house and pay those big boys back. Your credit score still will take a beating, but not as badly as if you went full foreclosure.
Dear Old Grump,
I think the seller was insulted by my lowball offer. What’s the best way to make a better offer without feeling like they have me over a barrel?
Dolla Dolla Bill
Dear Lowball Bill, What’s your definition of lowballing? Did you come in way below the asking price because it was the best you can do, or was it part of a strategy? What were the conditions of your offer? Many times, a seller will be turned off by an offer that is insultingly low or is attached to a bunch of contingencies such as “I need to sell my current house first” or “Aunt Tilley is going to kick the bucket any day now and I’ll have lots of money if she doesn’t leave it to her cat”.
Making a lowball offer sets the mood between seller and buyer. My advice is to be respectful. How would you feel if you were the seller and this happened to you? A good agent can get you back on track with the seller and if all goes well you’ll be living in the house that you almost lost.
My friends and I are seriously considering pitching in money to start a commune. I know you’re not a lawyer (are you?), but can you tell me what our first steps should be? We’re looking in West Texas. Namaste.
Totally Not Manson
You’re right; I’m not a lawyer. I also don’t know how someone could live piled up like cattle in a commune, but to each their own. Your best bet, as far as I can see it, is to empty out your hemp wallets, pool your cash, and form a non-profit organization, which will act as the legal owner of the land. When the peace and love turns to ego trips and teeth gnashing, be sure to sell the land and split the proceeds, or the gov’t will pop on in and gobble it all up.