Are Realtors Overrated?

We live in a world of on demand, everything at your fingertips, an information overload kind of world. We can shop online, go to school online, and even find a mate online (buyer beware). There are thousands (yes….thousands) of real estate websites (including ours) that allow you to search for homes, look at pictures, and see information about the home and community. Does that make the working persons realtor obsolete? Not quite, and I’ll tell you why.

Despite the misconceptions, realtors have to work hard at their craft to be successful. It’s not a part-time gig. Any successful realtor is working full time (usually more than full time) to hone their skills, keep up to date with the market, buyer and seller wants and needs, and updates in rules, regulations and laws pertaining to our business. Buying a house is most likely the biggest investment you will make in your life. Websites are great, but a realtor actually guides you through the process, navigates rough waters (things can get bumpy!), and makes sure you have the least stressful experience that you possibly can. Real estate websites can’t replace those things. I mean, would you just use WebMD.com to diagnose an illness? You would probably go to a doctor. Real estate isn’t quite that much of a life or death situation, but making the wrong purchase can cripple you financially. Why not have an expert in your corner. As a buyer it doesn’t cost you a dime to use a realtor.

The number one reason to use a realtor is MONEY. If you are selling your home, using a realtor will make you more money. On average, a home that is sold by a realtor sells for 30% more than a home that is sold by the owner of the property. A 30% increase is well worth any commission that is paid to your realtor. If you are buying a home, using a realtor does not cost you anything. In fact, if you use our company, we actually contribute a minimum of $500 towards the buyers closing costs. Besides that, we are there to help you in negotiations, inspections and everything else involving the home buying or selling process. Remember, the realtor at an open house or new construction community has the SELLERS best interest in mind, not yours. You are best served to bring us along.

At the end of the day, hiring an expert for such an important transaction is the way to go. The time, stress and money that it saves makes it a no brainer. So, are realtors overrated? I would say absolutely not.

Questions First-Time Buyers Should Ask Their Lender

FAIRFAX, Va. – Feb 5, 2019 – Mortgage rates are still historically low, and homebuyers need to know the right questions to ask lenders.

“It’s still a good time to buy a house. Asking lenders the right questions can help consumers understand the process and take advantage of the low rates and stable prices,” says Jeffery Long, chief lending officer at Virginia-based Apple Federal Credit Union.

To help get the best deal and avoid common pitfalls, Apple FCU put together a list of questions to ask lenders, starting with these: What type of loans do you offer, what is the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate, how large of a down payment do I need?

Other important questions to ask that can and affect the total cost include:

What fees and costs will I have to pay? Can you estimate and explain them?
Every lender will charge differently for closing costs, but they generally include an appraisal, credit report, title policy, pest inspection, escrow if applicable, recording fees and taxes. Some lenders also require buyers to pay points (for example, 1 percent of the total loan) or origination fees. Buyers can ask the lender to waive paying those points in exchange for a higher interest rate. All this information should be presented in a Good Faith Estimate, which must be provided to the buyer within three days of the application, as required by law.

Do you offer loan rate locks? If so, how much do you charge for them?
With loan rates changing hourly, buyers may want to consider asking for the loan rate to be locked to minimize surprises. However, if the rates go down, buyers will pay the higher locked amount. Some lenders charge zero to one point for the lock.

What is mortgage or discount points and how do they affect my loan?
Mortgage or discount points are fees the borrower can pay the lender in exchange for a reduced interest rate, leading to lower monthly mortgage payments. One point costs one percent of a mortgage amount (or $1,000 for every $100,000). This could be a good option for buyers planning to be in their home long-term. Buyers should compare savings each month against how much it costs to pay the points.

What is earnest money and how much will it cost me?
Once a homebuyer decides to buy a home, most contracts will ask for a deposit (earnest money) as a guarantee that the buyer will fulfill the contract. The home’s price and the terms of the agreement dictate the amount and is used to cover the buyer’s down payment, purchase price, and closing fees as long as the transaction completes.

What is escrow?
Homeowners may be required to put additional money at closing into an escrow account with the lender. The lender will use this money, plus an additional amount in each monthly mortgage payment, to pay for property taxes and specific types of insurance directly on behalf of the borrower. The amount of escrow required will be included in the Good Faith Estimate of closing costs provided by your lender. The amount of taxes and insurance required vary, depending on the property.

What are the closing costs? How much will mine be?
Closing costs are paid when ownership of the home is ready to be transferred. These costs can be paid by the seller, the buyer or shared by both. Often, closing costs can be as much as 2 to 5 percent of the home’s purchase price. It’s important to ask the lender for an estimate of closing costs up front, as many of the fees associated with closing the transaction vary by lender. Although the final bill might differ from the lender’s estimate, there are limitations to how much fees can change. Major discrepancies should be discussed with the lender prior to closing.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®

What Is the Greater Orlando Area?

What is The Greater Orlando Area? We’re glad you asked because quite often when one mentions Orlando, the first thoughts are Disney, Universal and Sea World. That’s quite understandable since 72 million people visited Orlando theme parks in 2017 and we were on pace to break that record in 2018. Nonetheless, people don’t live at the theme parks so let’s talk about what a wonderful place this is to live.
Let’s use TGOA as we go forward to refer to the area. It consists of Orange, Lake, Seminole and Osceola counties as well as extending a bit into Polk and Volusia county. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in July 2017, that 2.5 million people reside here but we average about 20 million visitors a day. The area is approximately 3,400 square miles in size. Before we moved here, if you mentioned different counties we had no idea what they were so let’s break each county down a little bit. Remember, always feel free to contact us by phone or email with any questions. It’s important to ask questions in regards to this and it’s our pleasure to provide you with the right information to help you choose the right home/right place for you and your family. Below we will list the counties and some of the neighborhoods.

Orange County: Winter Park, Downtown Orlando, Doctor Phillips, Lee Vista, Lake Nona, Waterford Lakes and more.
Seminole County: Oviedo, Sanford, Lake Mary, Winter Springs and more.
Lake County: Clermont/Minneola, Groveland, Mt. Dora and more.
Osceola County: Kissemmee, St. Cloud, Celebration, Narcoossee and more.
Volusia County: Just think “D”. Debary, Deltona, Deland and more.
Polk County: We mostly service Davenport in this county. It’s a hidden gem
in regards to home prices and a close proximity to Disney.

Just tell us what your budget is, where you will be commuting to work, your children’s interests, etc. and we will be happy to advise you.