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4 Home Mistakes to Avoid

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Undertaking a home renovation is stressful, even with the best contractors. Unfortunately, not all are trustworthy and many homeowners are scammed. In 2016, more than 32,000 scams were reported to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). On average, homeowners lost $1,400 from shady contractors, painters and repairmen, according to the BBB.

1. Verify the contractor’s license, insurance and at least three references. Make sure you ask for the contractor’s license number upfront. With this information, you can verify the license with your state. Also, ask for at least three references. Even a scammer may have had a couple projects go well in the past, so getting many references reduces the likelihood you’re dealing with one.

2. Ensure the contractor is an active member of a reputable industry organization. Vendors who are part of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and/or the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) must undergo a certain level of scrutiny to join, plus they pledge to uphold a code of ethics. This also demonstrates a level of commitment to their business and the industry as a whole.

3. Check the contractor’s reputation online. Even if you check a contractor out online, don’t be satisfied with a quick Google search. Make sure you look for news articles, read reviews and ask neighbors on sites like Nextdoor.com. Also, search the name of the company, the address, the owner and any other employees you meet.

 

You might not even realize you are damaging your home with these 4 mistakes:

1. Using glass cleaners on mirrors Spraying can lead to “black edge,” when liquid seeps beneath the reflective backing and stains your mirror. Instead, use a lint-free microfiber cloth dampened with warm water.

2. Using the wrong caulk There are as many caulks as there are glues, and you wouldn’t use a glue stick to fix broken pottery, according to HouseLogic. Similarly, you wouldn’t use silicone caulk on bricks because it’s made for non-porous surfaces. Check online or at a home improvement store to ensure you’re using the right caulk.

3. Over-mulching Mulch is great for your home, but don’t pile it on too thick. No more than 3 inches should do the trick. Otherwise, you may prevent water from reaching roots and suffocate plants.

4. Piling firewood against your exterior wall Firewood against the exterior wall of a house is an invitation for termites. Stack your wood at least 20 feet from your home

Home Inspections: Myths

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Many real estate deals are dependent on a home inspection, so it’s understandable that there can be a lot of nerves surrounding an inspection, especially for the potential buyer. Many of your clients may not know exactly what a home inspection entails or what to expect. Here are some top myths that may help them adjust their expectations:

6 HOME INSPECTION myths

1.   Having a license ensures a good home inspection. NOT TRUE! Not all states require licenses to be a home inspector and many of the standards vary widely. Make sure to verify other components of an inspector’s credentials, including past clients, years of experience and customer reviews.

 

2.  You can use a home inspection to identify problems that might be used as a tool to renegotiate the purchase price. NOT TRUE!  This is not the primary objective of a home inspection. The inspector’s professional service is one of unbiased, third-party education. They want to arm buyers and sellers with a good understanding of the physical condition of the home so they can make the best decision for themselves at that time.

3.  A home inspection tells you what your home is worth. NOT TRUE! An appraisal is intended to do this. An inspection also does not make any recommendations about whether or not to buy or sell the home—that is solely up to the client.

4.  All home inspection certifications and professional education are created equal. NOT TRUE! Some programs even offer certification online, without the requirement This article was provided by Pillar To Post home inspectors. For more information, go to pillartopost.com. BY THE NUMBERS It is recommended that a home be inspected every 10years, regardless of whether a sale is taking place. Source: The American Society of Home Inspectors to ever step foot inside a house and produce a real-time inspection. The best certification offers both in-class and hands-on training, as well as examination requirements. When choosing your home inspector, you want your clients to verify the reputation of the certificating organization.

5.  Home inspections are not needed for newly built homes or condos. NOT TRUE! Newly built homes or condos are just as much in need of an inspection as an older home. No home is perfectly built, and it’s best to have an inspector pinpoint potential issues or future repairs. Most inspectors can also give inspections during each construction “phase” of the property at various stages of development.

6.  Home inspections are solely used on the buyer’s side. NOT TRUE! Although most inspections are performed for potential buyers, there are many advantages to a pre-listing inspection for sellers. These include knowing about major issues before the house goes up for sale, increased negotiating power and garnering the best sale price. The American Society of Home Inspectors also recommends that a home be inspected every 10 years, regardless of whether a sale is taking place.

For additional information on obtaining a home inspection, call our office at 301-870-1717.

Try an FHA Loan

by Don DeHanas, Broker

FHA insured mortgages serve a sector of the market that is not necessarily being met by other loan programs.

Securing an 80% conventional mortgage that doesn’t require mortgage insurance may be the lowest cost of financing but if the buyer doesn’t have 20% down payment, it isn’t really an option.

Securing a 100% VA loan doesn’t require a down payment or mortgage insurance but if the buyer isn’t a veteran with his/her eligibility intact, it isn’t an option either. There are conventional loan programs with as little as 3% down payment but they not only require mortgage insurance, they also require a credit score of 740 or above which may eliminate some buyers.

For these reasons, FHA is a viable alternative to about 20% of new and existing home sales. The Federal backing of these mortgages makes it easier for first-time and low-income buyers to qualify because the requirements are not as demanding.

They’re even more lenient towards buyers who have previously experienced bankruptcy, Foreclosure or a short sale. Finding the right mortgage for the right home is a team effort where both mortgage and real estate professionals work in harmony to get a buyer into their own home. Call us at (301) 870-1717 for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

General FHA loan requirements include:

• The loan is for primary residences only but can include two, three or four units.

• The property must be appraised by an FHA-approved appraiser.

• The property must be safe, sound and secure, in compliance with minimum property standards as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

• The borrower must be a legal resident of the U.S. and have a valid Social Security number.

• The minimum credit score of 580 with a down payment of at least 3.5 percent, or a minimum credit score of 500 with a down payment of at least 10 percent.

• The borrower may not have delinquent federal debt or judgments, or debt associated with past FHA loans. • The borrower must have steady employment history.

• Documentation is required if the down payment was gifted by a family member.

• The borrower must have a debt-to-income not exceed limits of 31% for front-end and 43% back-end ratio (some exceptions may apply).

• Any judgments or collections on the credit report must be resolved or satisfactorily explained.

For additional infomration on obtaining an FHA loan, call Bryan Pumphrey at Everbank at 301-399-0595, or call DeHanas Real Estate Services at 301-870-1717.

Prepare for Holiday Travels

by Don DeHanas, Broker

The last thing you want if you’re traveling these holidays is to worry about someone burglarizing your home. Use this check list to add some peace of mind while you’re out of town.

• Ask a trusted friend - to pick up mail, newspaper and keep yard picked up to avoid an appearance of being empty.

• Consider discontinuing your mail (USPS Hold Mail Service)

• Don’t post about your trip on Facebook and other social media until you return – some burglars actually look for this type of announcement to schedule their activities.

• Do notify police or neighborhood watch – especially if you’re going to be gone for more than just a few days. Let your monitoring service know when you’ll be gone and if someone will be checking on your home for you.

• Light timers make it look like someone is home – use several sets for different times to better simulate someone being at home.

• Do unplug certain appliances – TV, computers, toaster ovens that use electricity even when they’re off and to protect them from power surges.

• Don’t hide a key – burglars know exactly where to look for your key and it only takes them a moment to check under the mat, above the door, in the flower pot or in a fake rock.

These easy-to-handle suggestions may protect your belongings while you’re gone while adding a level of serenity to your trip.

Cash In Refinance

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Would someone really refinance their home and not take money out of it? Certainly, if they could get a lower rate, build equity faster and pay off the home sooner.

For people with extra cash available, this can be very attractive compared to the low savings rates being paid by banks.

In the example below, the current mortgage is 5% for 30 years after 48 payments of $1,342.05. The owner can refinance for 15 years at 3.37%. If they put $36,000 into the refinance, their payments will be slightly more but the mortgage will be paid off in 15 years. At that same point, if they keep the current mortgage, their unpaid balance will be $136,049.03. If you have a goal to get your home paid off and have the available funds, a Cash-In Refinance may be just the strategy for you.

To learn more, call DeHanas Real Estate Services at 301-870-1717.  Know someone looking to buy, sell or rent a home? Call DeHanas Real Estate Servoices today!

Debt Relief May Trigger Tax

by Don DeHanas, Broker

The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, originally passed in 2007, was extended three times to protect homeowners from paying income tax on debt that was relieved due to Foreclosure, short sales or deed in lieu of foreclosure.

The law expired on December 31, 2016 and unless it is extended again, homeowners with debt relief in 2017 may be subject to tax.

A homeowner might feel a sense of relief without the obligation of a delinquent mortgage but just because the payments are no longer due doesn’t mean that there isn’t another obligation that replaces it. If a lender cancels or forgives debt, a taxpayer must include the cancelled amount in their income for tax purposes depending on the circumstances. The tax significance could be serious.

This previously allowed relief only applied to a taxpayers’ acquisition indebtedness of their principal residence which did not include second homes and investment property. The maximum amount was limited to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness or $1 million if filing separately.

Due to the serious consequences involved in short sales and foreclosures, it is advised that homeowners faced with this possibility should seek expert advice from their legal and tax professionals.

If you or someone you know is looking to buy, sell or rent a home, please call DeHanas Real Estate Services at 301-870-1717.

Be Careful when using Realtor.com & others

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Be very leary of who you give your personal information.  It might not be going to the party you think it is going to. 

As a home buyer you are looking through Realtor.com or another home search site, and you come across a listing you would like more information on. There is a button in the ad that says "Contact Agent". When you click on it, you are required to leave your name and contact info. Are you expecting the listing agent to respond? Most consumers would say "yes". However, that is not the case. Realtor.com gives your information to multiple agents who have paid for your lead, and now you are talking to someone who has never even stepped foot into the property.

This week, I had a buyer tell me about their experience, and said "I thought I was contacting you. I don't understand why I have to work this other agent".

I called Realtor.com to see what I could do about this deceptive practice, and I was told I could either "buy a zip code or become a Pro member", and buy all my listings back for $1200 a month. 

In doing more research, I spoke with someone who paid the money to buy their own listings back, and learned that when the system was tested, the "consumer" still received multiple calls from other agents. As a Broker and business owner, ensuring that my clients and customers have a great experience when they contact us is my highest priority. In the case of Realtor.com. the consumer thinks they are getting one thing and they end up with a completely different and disappointing experience. 

Making The Decision to Buy A Home

by Don DeHanas, Broker

There could be some legitimate reasons for not buying a home but indecision is not one of them. Indecision is rooted in not having enough information to move forward to own a home or continue renting.

If you keep renting, at the end of the year, you have had a place to live and a pile of receipts that helped the landlord pay for his house. Deciding to buy a home will give you a place to live that is yours and all the things that come with that.

When you consider principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, your monthly cost of housing could be much less than the rent you’re paying. The principal reduction included in each payment is like a forced savings account that increases as your mortgage balance decreases.

Your equity in the property will also grow due to appreciation as the home goes up in value. The equity is part of your net worth and an investment in your family’s future. The income tax savings can be an additional financial consideration if the combined interest and property taxes are greater than the allowable standard deduction. Trends are showing that both tenants and homeowners are staying in their homes longer. It’s been said that whether you rent or own, you’re paying for the home.

Do you really want to buy the home for your landlord? Check out your numbers on a Rent vs. Own and then, call us at 301-870-1717 to help make it happen.

DeHanas Real Estate Services specializes in residential resales, Bank-owned home sales, Property Management, short sales, and new constrcution. DeHanas Real Estate Services is family owned and operated with an office convenitnly located in Waldorf, MD.

What is Your Mortgage Risk Factor?

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Regardless of what a lender quotes on mortgage rates, the actual rate a borrower pays is based on a number of variables. Lenders determine whether to loan money and at what rate based on the risk involved with the transaction.

Factors that increase the risk that the loan will be repaid will proportionately increase the interest rate charged to the borrower. If the risk becomes too high, the loan will not be approved. • Loan amounts – conventional mortgages above conforming limits as set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are considered jumbo loans and generally have a higher interest rate.

• FICO score – the lowest interest rate is reserved for the highest score; the lower the score, the higher the rate the borrower will pay.

• Occupancy – borrowers occupying a home as their principal residence are considered a better loan risk than second homes and investment properties.

• Loan purpose – purchase transactions generally have the lowest interest rate with refinancing for better rates and terms being priced slightly higher. An even higher rate might be charged for refinancing and taking cash out of the property.

• Debt-to-Income Ratio – a borrower’s monthly liabilities divided by their gross monthly income develops a ratio that helps lenders to assess the borrower’s ability to repay the mortgage.

• Property Type – some types of property are considered higher risk than others which could adversely affect the rate.

• Loan-to-value – the lower the percentage of the loan to the appraised value of the property will generally lower the interest rate.

Any combination of these factors could limit a borrower’s ability to secure a mortgage at the rate initially quoted. Pre-approval by a trusted mortgage professional can be the best way to know what rate you can expect to pay. Please call for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

For a more detailed analysis of your current financial situation, please call DeHanas Real Estate Services at 301-870-1717 or visit one of our lender partners.

Getting Pre-Approved For A Mortgage

by Don DeHanas, Broker

Buyer’s mortgage pre-approval is good for everyone in the transaction. It saves time, money and removes the uncertainty of knowing whether the buyer will be qualified after negotiating a contract.

The direct benefits include:

• Looking at “Right” homes - price, size, amenities, location

• Find the best loan - rate, term, type

• Uncover credit issues early - time to cure possible problems

• Negotiating power - price, terms, & timing

• Close quicker - verifications have been made

There is a significant difference in having a trusted mortgage professional take a loan application and run all the necessary verifications compared to going through calculators on a lender’s website. Beside the peace of mind, the cost of being pre-approved is a bargain and generally, limited to the cost of the credit report. Even if a person has been pre-approved, a second opinion from a different lender may be a good option. It can verify there is a good deal or you’ll discover that you can improve it. Either way, it works to your advantage. Contact me if you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage officer.

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The DeHanas Team
DeHanas Real Estate Services
1218 Smallwood Drive
Waldorf MD 20603
Office: 301-870-1717
1-800-842-0190
Fax: 240-754-7867

Servicing all Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro areas of Maryland, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County real estate advertised in this website are subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 which makes it illegal to advertise any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap and familial status, or national origin, or any intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination. DeHanas Real Estate Services will not knowingly accept any listing agreement for real estate sales in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater MD, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County areas which are in violation of the law. Our clients and customers are informed that all dwellings advertised on our website in Anne Arundel County, Calvert County, Charles County, and Prince George's County as well as Annapolis, Bowie, Chesapeake Beach, Crofton, Dunkirk, Edgewater MD, Ft. Meade, Huntingtown, La Plata, North Beach, Odenton, Owings, Pasadena, Severn, Waldorf, and the Upper Marlboro, all of Washington DC, and Northern Virginia, including Alexandria, Arlington, and King George County areas are available on an equal opportunity basis. All prices and finance claims appearing in this site are subject to change without notice.