Buying a home can seem like an exciting and yet daunting prospect. After all, a home is often times the most emotional and usually the largest investment anyone will ever make.
That is why it is imperative for buyers to work with a real estate professional they trust to guide them through the entire process, to provide them with important information and to be available to answer all of their questions – from the very beginning until the very end and any time thereafter. It may seem simple, but many fail to realize how important it is to have a good understanding of the process and a genuine interest in a buyer’s needs and wants.
(Growing Family, Career Change)
(Retirees & Empty-Nesters)
The Impetus to Buy
There are many reasons why any person or group of people would make the decision to buy a home, and each of those reasons is unique to the individuals, their circumstances and goals. Whatever the reason – whether you’re getting married or divorced, growing your family or retiring – I’m interested in knowing…because in understanding you, I’m better able to help you achieve your ultimate goal of homeownership.
Things You Can Expect From Featured Properties International:
“Raquel is one of the best and most professional brokers I have ever met in Miami (and I have dealt with many…) I am 110% convinced that she will be very helpful and you will be extremely happy with her services!
I am recommending her with three thumbs UP!”
"As a first time home buyer, you can imagine how nervous I was. Raquel was there for me every step of the way to guide me through the entire process. She was there to answer any questions I had at any time. Raquel did an excellent job in communicating with me and keeping me up to date with the latest information.
My experience with her was like no other."
"I need to start off by giving a BIG thanks to my sister-in-law for recommending Raquel to my husband & me. I'm so glad we went with her recommendation. Raquel guided us the whole way through, she answered all our questions
and gave us knowledge of what everything entailed.
Raquel made the process so smooth for us."
"My fiancé and I were on the hunt for our first home, but we did not know where to begin. Luckily, a family member recommended Raquel Ramirez. Raquel is a very caring, patient and professional Realtor. She explained every single detail that was important to know, answer every question we had and delivered on every promise she made. She showed great commitment and dedication to our family, which speaks volumes about who she is and how important her clients' dreams
and experiences are to her."
"My husband and I used the services of Ms. Ramirez when looking to buy a home for our family. We’re so pleased to say that she is an absolute professional! Her work is extremely detailed, she is clear with her communication and she is always available to help. My husband and I never felt alone. We were also confident that we were able to select from the best properties available within our budget.
I would gladly refer her to anyone and everyone I care about.”
"Raquel, quería hacerte llegar el testimonio de nuestra gratitud por tus buenos oficios, por tu impecable profesionalidad en la adquisición de nuestro inmueble, el cual habitamos felizmente. Muchas gracias por todo y no dudare en ningún momento recomendar a 'Raquel Ramirez' para temas inmobiliarios.
Te deseo todo el éxito del mundo."
"I first met Raquel Ramirez when I rented the home I later purchased. She truly made my house buying process a wonderful experience. She communicated clearly and dealt fairly. She was involved every step of the way and never missed a beat. Without any doubt, I would
recommend her to anyone who is in need of a realtor."
Answers To Questions You Might Have
Consider your lifestyle and what is most important to you and your family. Perhaps, you wish to be closer to the city, public services, convenient shopping or a particular school. Perhaps, you simply wish to commute less. Think of the factors that will enhance your quality of life and permit you to do the things you need and want most.
Real estate transactions are a matter of public record, so purchase prices can usually be found online. However, in many instances, there are pertinent details that require further investigation. In any case, it can be a tedious task, which is why I recommend you simply ask me. As a real estate professional, I am able to study the different markets and analyze their trends.
You should look for those things you simply can’t live without. You will be investing a considerable amount of money, so the house you ultimately choose to live in needs to satisfy your needs. Focus on the important things – size, space, storage, style, amenities, location and restoration. Everything outside of your “must have” checklist should come second. After all, you will likely enjoy spending time turning the house into your private retreat and personalizing every detail.
Other than a notepad or note-‐taking device and/or your significant other, may I suggest an open mind? You may find it difficult to see past a certain style or choice of color scheme, but the truth is that, short of bulldozing the structure, you can change nearly everything without having to rebuild. Of course, your budget will dictate whether you can engage in projects that require you to change floors, restore ceilings, renovate kitchens, etc., but often, a little paint and new trimmings will reveal a different home.
Please provide as much feedback as possible. Telling me what you liked and disliked about the homes you toured, how you felt and what moved you to consider those or other options ultimately helps me help you.
There is no magic number that will lead to finding the right home. You may fall in love with the first home you see…or not. The key is to provide me with as much detail up front as possible. I will say that there is a downfall to “overlooking,” as having too many options can prove to be counterproductive. And depending on that market’s pace, you may find the second home you liked may have gone under contract before you had the chance to consider the third or fourth option.
Consider both! Honestly, investing in a new or older home is a matter of personal preference. Some prefer a home with character and quaint charm. Others may prefer not to think of making any changes or enhancements to the home for the foreseeable future. The differences usually lie in the architectural style and layouts. Older homes tend to have larger bedrooms; whereas, newer construction generally adds space to the main living areas. Do keep in mind that the older the neighborhood the older the home is likely to be.
A home inspection is a visual (and sometimes operational) examination of a home’s present condition, which is intended to identify deficient, unsafe or terminal components. It should be performed by a licensed and insured home inspection company that will send a certified inspector to check the home’s structure and major systems. A home inspection is always recommended! It should be performed immediately after you go under contract to purchase a property.
No. You’re not required to be present, but it is recommended, as it will help you better understand the inspection report. It will also grant you the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the different components with the help of an objective third party consultant.
Obtaining insurance is quite easy. Once you’re well on your way to purchasing a home, you will want to contact your local insurance carrier or carriers and request a quote or two. I’ll likely offer to take care of that for you so that you have one less thing to worry about. The insurance agent you select should guide you through the process and provide you with your coverage options. I will then coordinate with you, the insurance agent, the lender and the title company to ensure that you’re insured.
There are different types of insurance policies for the different types of properties and home ownership. A knowledgeable insurance agent will present you with options and will gladly explain the differences in coverage, deductibles and premiums so that you can make the best decision for the safety and insurability of your future home.
Escrowed funds or earnest money refers to the money you give in good faith to accompany the offer you have made. This money represents your willingness and seriousness to make the purchase. It is legally held in “escrow” (or trust) by your attorney, a licensed real estate company or title company involved in the transaction. Placing the funds in trust means that the funds are neutral and held until the closing. They can later be applied to your down payment at closing. The down payment represents the amount you are responsible to pay to cover the difference between the purchase price and what your lender commits to lend you for the purchase.
Yes. Home warranties offer you protection against many problems resulting from the breakdown of home system components and appliances. Though not commonly offered as part of the sale of a home, home warranties may be individually purchased to help protect you from potentially costly problems that may not be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Home warranties have become increasingly popular due to its cost and effectiveness. It turns out that peace of mind can be relatively inexpensive. Do keep in mind that home warranties do not replace homeowners insurance. In fact, warranties can only protect you from certain issues relating to home system components and the like. For more information, you will need to contact home warranty companies for available plans and coverage options.
While it may cost you to hire a moving company, it will save you time and energy that you may need for other things post move. Of course, hiring movers is a matter of budget and personal preference.
There are a number of mortgage financing options available to first-‐ time home buyers. These programs were created to make home purchasing an affordable endeavor. As a result, most of these programs offer smaller down payments and reduced interest rates during the earlier years of the mortgage loan commitment to make the transition financially feasible. The popular VA and FHA-insured loans are known for their incredibly low down payment requirements and aggressive interest rates. These favorable terms, however, do require mortgage insurance. Additionally, there are varied financing options for retirees. Although qualifying for a home loan in retirement is different, it is not difficult. There are particular financing guidelines that take other pertinent details into consideration, which means you’re not bound to reverse mortgages only. Finally, there is a myriad of options available to those making larger purchases, which may include interest only options. For a detailed explanation of the options available specifically to you, it is recommended that you consult with your preferred lender or financier.
Applying for an FHA or VA loan is quite simple. However, FHA-‐insured loans are reserved for low-‐to-‐moderate income buyers while VA-‐ guaranteed home loans are available only to those serving in the military (or their surviving spouses). Either program requires little to no down payment (0%-‐3.5%). Although applying is a simple matter, qualifying is an entirely different process. Given that both of these loan programs are government insured/guaranteed, they do require hefty amounts of documentation to ensure credibility. Therefore, the process for obtaining either one of these loans can be lengthy and often times a little burdensome, as you may find yourself providing a lot of information.
Conventional financing is known to require 20% down payment. However, there are many financing programs available, some of which require as little as 0% or 3.5%. How much is required of you will depend on several factors: your purchasing power, your financial reserves, the price of the home you choose to purchase, and the loan program you ultimately qualify for. A qualified mortgage lender will provide you with this information upon your consultation and application for a home loan.
A lender will consider several variables in order to determine how much house you can afford (or your “purchasing power.”) The most important things are: your monthly income, your current debt and obligations, and your financial reserves. Simply put, the difference between what you earn and what you spend will yield an amount to cover X mortgage payment (plus taxes and insurance). What funds you have saved will help mostly to determine your down payment. Your credit score is important, too! However, your score and history determine what loan programs and interest rates you will qualify for.
APR stands for annual percentage rate, and it is the amount of interest on the total loan amount paid annually. This is different than your interest rate, which is the “current” rate on the mortgage. The APR is averaged over the full term of the loan and includes the total cost of borrowing those funds. A lower APR translates into a lower monthly mortgage payment, which may seem more comfortable in the long run. However, to obtain that, you may have to pay up front fees or mortgage points to reduce the APR. If you prefer to save on the cost up front, you may choose a higher APR to finance those costs over the life of the loan, thereby freeing up some cash to apply to your down payment or to spend on new appliances, home renovations, etc.
A Loan Estimate is a three-‐page form you receive from your lender upon completion and submission of your application for a home loan. This document provides you with important information, including the interest rate, anticipated monthly mortgage payments and an estimate of what you may expect to pay in closing costs relative to the loan (only). Please remember that, as a buyer, the bulk of your closing costs will consist of mortgage-related costs. However, you will also be responsible for certain pro-‐rated fees and costs associated with the purchase transaction.
A pre-‐qualification is merely a confirmation from your lender that you have applied for a mortgage loan. More specifically, a pre-‐qualification letter states that you seem to be qualified for a certain loan based on the assets, income and expenses you stated or provided. A pre-‐ approval is a lender’s statement that, based on the verification of your income and credit score and history, they were able to determine your eligibility for their financing program(s). Though this is a step further into the process, it is by no means a lender’s approval or commitment to lend you funds. A loan commitment is a lender’s written promise or commitment to lend you the funds at a specified rate and terms. This is what you need as a guarantee to obtain financing. This document is issued once the loan has been approved.
A standard mortgage payment consists of principal and interest, meaning a portion of the payment is applied to the total amount you borrowed while the other portion goes to the interest (or the cost of financing.) Of course, the majority of your payments in earlier years will be applied to the interest. In many instances, a lender may require you to pay what is known as PITI, which stands for principal + interest+ taxes + insurance. With a PITI payment, you also contribute to the property’s annual property taxes and insurance. In this case, the bank places the allocated funds in an escrow account to then pay for the taxes and insurance on your behalf. This is a lender’s way of protecting the collateral, while making it easier for you to budget those items. If you have opted for an interest only loan, then you will only be making interest payments until the payment structure changes or the principal becomes due.
The short answer to this question is yes. However, you will need to discuss that with your lender as some loan programs penalize you for doing so. In most cases, you are allowed to make additional payments towards your principal or a full payment of the loan without a penalty, but it’s better to be safe and confirm. Some lenders do structure prepayment penalty timelines.
If you’re financing the purchase of your home, you should receive a Loan Estimate from your lender shortly after completing and submitting your loan application. However, the lender will only provide you with an estimate of the costs association with obtaining the financing. The title company or attorney handling the closing will provide all parties will an accurate statement reflecting the amounts due at least 3 business days prior to the closing date. This disclosure will provide you with everything you need to know before you close, including your closing costs.
The homestead exemption is a tax-‐saving exemption made for primary homeowners. It is meant to protect the taxable value of your home and offer you some property tax savings in return. You can request the exemption in the same tax year if you purchase a home and submit the application prior to March 1st. Otherwise, you may apply to receive exemption benefits for the following year. You can now apply online by visiting: https://www.miamidade.gov/pa/exemptions_homestead.asp.