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What To Look For When Buying A Home

by Samia S. Morgan

When looking for a new home, you will find that it can be a fun and excting process. It can however, be easy to overlook certain negative aspects and make decisions that may be costly down the road. While many first time homebuyers may overlook potential problems, it can happen to even the most veterarn homebuyer. To help you look for potential problems, there is a list below that can help guide you through the process when you begin your home search.

Be sure to inspect the neighborhood closely. Finding a great home that is located in a neighborhood that doesn't suit your needs or a community that is decline can be a bad decision.  Before viewing any homes for sale, it is a good idea to do some research and review the neighborhoods in your area. One great  online databases is Move.com’s City Profile Report, which gives you a detailed look at specific neighborhoods using demographics, finances and economics to help determine quality of life.

Is The Price Right? Is This Really A Good Deal? If you have found a home you really love but might need some work, it is vital to consider a few things. It is easy to fall in love with a home that needs some work and talk yourself into the fact that you can fix it up. Many times these projects can be very costly and time consuming, so it is important to ask yourself questions such as: 'Do you have the money to fix this up? and "Do you have the time to invest?' It is also important to ask your self the question as to if it will be worth the cost-also if you don't have the money to invest you will be loosing value.

Don't Overlook The Additional Expenses. The mortgage is not the only expense associated with the purchase of a home. Other costs are typically associated with the purchase of a property that may not be considered.

  • Homeowner Assoication Fees: If you move into a development with an HOA, you will be required to make either a yearly or monthly fee. Keep in mind that HOA fees will typically raise each year and there are fees that are imposed for not following regulations. Be sure to read the fine print.
  • Real Estate Taxes: Home value and location will have an effect on the amount you will be required to pay each year. Be sure to consider that property taxes can increase dramatically because of new levies or even reappraisals of your property.
  • Utilities. Be sure to ask what the typical monthly costs are for gas, electric, water etc. If you are currently renting, the increase in utility costs from an apartment to a home can be shocking. Do your research so you are not surprised.

Finding a home you love and that you can afford is important. If you are a first time homebuyer it is important to do your research so you can make an informed decision and be happy with your home purchase years down the road!

Sharing Closing Costs

by Samia S. Morgan

Once a seller has closed on their home and the paperwork has been completed, most will figure on deducting the remaining mortgage balance and the agent's commission from the sales price. Many, however don't figure in the closing costs that are involved as well. 

Closing costs refer to all of the taxes, fees and costs required to close a real estate transaction. The amount and who will be responsible can vary from state to state.

When selling your home, it is important to ask your agent for a breakdown of what you are expected to pay in closing costs as well what the buyer will pay. In most states the buyer and seller split closing costs but some states consider the buyer to be responsible or both parties can be required to pay the costs. 

Typically the person responsible for paying closing costs can be dependent on the market. For example in a market that is plentiful, the seller could have more of a chance in having the buyer pay the majority of the closing costs. But in a market that is struggling such as now, buyers tend to have the upper hand and many sellers will pay the majority of the closing costs in order to complete the sale.

Below are some of the common closing costs faced by sellers and buyers:

Escrow/attorney fees: Some states require third-party escrow companies handle real estate closings, while others dictate attorneys perform the function. Title companies, title agents, lenders, brokers and even real estate agents are allowed to handle closings and/or escrows depending on the state. These fees are usually split between the buyer and seller.
Title insurance: There are usually two types of title insurance that must be purchased – the lenders’ policy and the owners’ policy. Usually either a title company or in some states a lawyer will research the title to make sure there are no liens against the property or unidentified owners. These policies protect the lender and new owner for the full value of the property. Usually, the seller pays for the owner’s policy and the buyer pays for the lender’s policy. This is often referred to as clearing title.
Transfer or documentary taxes: These are paid either to the state, county, city or a combination depending on the state. This is where the government agency gets their share of the transaction. This is also known as a reconveyance tax.
Recording fee: Usually paid to the county for recording the deed, which shows ownership of the property.
Mortgage tax: This is an additional tax collected by some states. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia are the states that collect this tax.
Brokerage commission: The fee you contractually agreed to pay for the selling of your home.


Aside from these costs, the seller may be responsible for costs such as any credits that were promised to the buyer for repairs or home warranties. Don't forget that Federal law requires that sellers and buyers receive a copy of a
HUD-1 form outlining all charges in a real estate transaction.

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Photo of Samia S. Morgan, Inc. Real Estate
Samia S. Morgan, Inc.
dba Samia Realty Group
BRE# 00967165
San Mateo CA 94403
650-678-3633