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Updated: Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Buyers Right To Know Of Competition?

Does a buyer have a right to know if some other buyer is competing against him for the same property? Shouldnt buyers be given all >

The Woodsons had become interested in a property represented by Melia Faile of the Allen Tate Co. The Woodsons had an agent representing them as buyers, but, because their agent was absent at times during the negotiations, they frequently communicated directly with the listing agent.

On a Tuesday the listing agent provided the Woodsons with a draft purchase offer form. They made several changes, which they initialed, and returned the signed form on Thursday. The sellers DLI Properties then made some more changes and returned it for acceptance.

Things went back and forth, including a Friday call, from the buyer to the listing agent, saying that he had neglected to include a contingency placing a 4,300 limit on the cost to him of tying into the existing water and sewer systems.

After discussing the matter with the sellers, the listing agent left a Friday afternoon phone message for the buyers. According to the court record, she told them to "notate the change, initial it, and deliver the offer to her with a check for the 1,000 earnest money deposit." They did that and delivered the offer, with the check, to the listing office on Saturday. Because some of the sellers were out of town, they the sellers planned to meet on Monday to sign the final version.

On Sunday, another buyer, through his agent, contacted the listing agent about making an offer on the same property. The listing agent informed them of the situation with the first buyers offer. The second buyer said that he would make a cash offer with an earlier closing date if he could first obtain a satisfactory septic inspection.

On Monday, the listing agent informed the sellers of the second buyer. She asked them if they wanted her to inform the first buyers. They decided not to after she told them "she was afraid that, if she informed the [first buyers] about the other offer, DLI could lose both offers."

On Tuesday, the inspection was conducted with satisfactory results. The second buyer made a formal offer which the sellers accepted.

Naturally, the first buyers sued. Among other things, they claimed that the listing agent "had a duty of care to communicate truthful information to [the first buyer], and breached that duty by failing to disclose the [second] offer and the fact that DLI had not signed [the first buyers] offer." Moreover, they argued that the listing agent had this duty because they had "the right to expressly repose trust and confidence" in her with regard to their offer.

The trial court upheld the defendants motion for summary judgment -- essentially, a motion to dismiss -- determining that the facts, which were uncontested, did not support a claim that the law had been violated. The trial courts order was then upheld by an appellate court and, ultimately, the State Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court noted that the first buyers were not clients of the listing agent; rather they had employed another agent to represent them, "and the circumstances of their dealings with [the listing agent] did not imply a trust and confidence between the parties giving rise to a duty to disclose another offer." Moreover, the court observed, "Nondisclosure becomes fraudulent only when it is the duty of the party having knowledge of the facts to uncover them to the other." [my emphasis]

Situations like this can sometimes be confusing to REALTORS, because the Realtor Code of Ethics makes it clear that, in the absence of a confidentiality agreement, or some particular state law, the terms of an offer are not considered confidential. Indeed, under Article I, Standard of Practice 1-13, buyer agents have a duty to advise their clients of this.

But just because something is not confidential doesnt mean it has to be shared. The existence and terms of an offer may with the sellers permission be disclosed to another buyer; but neither seller nor agent have a duty to do this.

Bob Hunt is a director of the California Association of Realtors. He is the author of Real Estate the Ethical Way.

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Ask the HOA Expert: Must All Owners Share The Cost?

Question: I live in a condominium with three buildings and the one I live in has an elevator that needs substantial repairs. The Home Owners Association Board plans to assess all repair costs to our building. Can the board charge only our building or must all owners share the cost?

Answer: Unless the governing documents specifically allocate elevator expenses and repairs to certain units, the costs are spread among all unit owners and that cant be changed unless 100 of all owners agree to it.

Question: Our board has allowed unit owners to enclose patios, replace concrete sidewalks with pavers, add bay windows, greenhouse rooms, skylights and roofs to cover new rooms. The rationale was that such improvements increase the value of all units.

Answer: What you describe constitutes expansion into or modification of the common area. The board has no authority to expand owner use of common area. Any redefinition or reconfiguration of common area must be approved by an appropriate majority of owners which may be 100. However, what is done is done. The board should deny further such encroachments into common area.

Whenever the board grants a legal modification, like carpeting an existing patio, the approval should be done in writing and include the condition that all maintenance and repairs are the owners responsibility as well as any damage caused to common area resulting from those modifications.

Question: We have a homeowner who is having cable TV installed but the cable company wont do the installation without the HOAs approval due to the concern of running a visible cable under the eves of the roof. Should we have the owner sign a waiver accepting responsibility for damages resulting from the installation?

Answer: Generally, the board should have a written policy restricting or prohibiting cable, phone and dish installations that are attached to the buildings for the very reasons you point out. At the very least, these installations should be out of view. Cable TV wiring can usually be run in crawlspaces or attics to minimize exterior cable. It is more labor intensive but the end result is the building exterior looks cleaner and with fewer holes in the siding that could leak water. Satellite dishes should not be attached to the siding or roof unless these are the only locations where good signal is achievable. Erecting various out of sight 15-20 pole locations on the property allows the service providers places to hang their equipment without resorting to building installations.

For more innovative homeowner association management strategies, subscribe to http://www.Regenesis.net

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Always Obtain A Property Survey

Question : We are refinancing and our lender is requiring a survey. We paid for one five years ago when we bought our house, so we dont understand this requirement? Is it necessary?

Answer : Yes and no. The lender needs a survey, but if you have not made any changes to the outside of your property, your lender should be willing to take a sworn affidavit from you indicating no changes and no improvements since the first survey. The original survey should be attached to that document.

What is a survey? It is important to distinguish between a survey and an appraisal -- both of which are generally charged to the buyer. An appraisal assists the mortgage lender in assessing the value of the house so as to determine whether a mortgage should be made and in what amount. Generally, the appraisal will analyze the condition of the house, its location, structural soundness and comparable sales in the area.

A survey, on the other hand, goes to the question of marketability. The surveyor determines whether the house is within the property borders, whether there are any encroachments on the property by neighbors and the extent to which any easements on the property may affect legal title.

Up until the mid 1980s, mortgage lenders did not require a survey. But this has changed. Title companies, when issuing a title insurance policy, will issue an exception to title unless a survey has been obtained. Since Lenders insist on obtaining a clear "lenders" title insurance policy covering the face value of the mortgage, it becomes necessary to obtain a survey to satisfy the lenders requirements.

Every buyer should obtain a survey, even if you are paying all cash. You need to know where your property lines are, and whether there are any building restrictions affecting your right to add a porch or a fence. You want to make sure that your fence does not encroach on the next door neighbor or vice versa.

Here are some suggestions involving the survey process.

First, survey prices vary considerably. Ive seen them as low as 200 and as high as 300, for the same single-family house. Ask your settlement attorney for an estimate. If it seems too high, arrange for your own survey and make sure a copy of the survey gets to your lender well in advance of settlement. It must be done by a qualified surveyor, licensed in the state where your property is located. And your lender must approve the surveyor in advance.

Next, ask your sellers who did their survey. Most lenders will not honor a survey if it is more than six months old, but you should ask the prior surveyor whether the old survey can be updated and whether this will save you some money. Some of the more reputable surveyors are happy to get your business and will give you a break in the price.

You should also go to the government surveyor in the land records office where your property is located. They are quite helpful and may be able to assist you with boundary questions, easement issues and such. They will not, however, provide you legal advice.

If you are buying a condominium unit, you will not have to obtain -- or pay for -- a separate survey of your unit. That survey has already been done as part of the plats and plans which were recorded with the condominium documents. You should, of course, carefully review all of the condominium documents before you decide to go forward with the transaction.

It should be noted that the typical survey which most purchasers obtain when they go to closing is called a "house location" survey. Title insurance generally will exclude from coverage "encroachments, overlaps, boundary line disputes and any other matters which would be disclosed by an accurate survey and inspection of the premises."

The title insurance industry takes the position that a "house location" survey is not such an "accurate survey", and thus will reject many claims regarding boundary disputes.

To obtain full title insurance coverage, the purchaser should obtain what is known as an "ALTA American Land Title Association Survey". This is a very detailed, comprehensive survey, which will cost considerably more than the house location survey.

To be absolutely sure of what property you are purchasing, you might want to consider obtaining this ALTA Survey. However, most residential purchasers would rather not spend that additional money, and will take a chance that the house location survey will adequately protect them.

Finally, keep in mind that most surveys will not include staking your property corners. If you want stakes posted, it will cost you additional dollars. You should make the necessary arrangements for stakes at the time you or your title attorney -- orders the survey.

When you go to settlement, you should ask the settlement attorney to review the survey with you, and to discuss any potential issues which that survey may raise. Are the fences encroaching on your neighbors property? Is the driveway owned by you or it is a shared driveway? Who owns any trees which are on the property? Once you purchase the property, it may be too late to raise any boundary->

And dont forget to get a copy of the survey from your closing attorney before you leave the settlement table.

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Choosing Hardwoods For Floors

The rich patina of wood floors adds beauty and elegance to any home.

Older homes were once routinely constructed with hardwood floors, but that practice was abandoned in the 1950s, when new technologies made wall-to-wall carpeting available. Builders were able to build more homes faster, for the post-war baby boom, and save money on labor.

But today, many homeowners prefer hardwoods to carpet. Hardwoods help give the impression that your home is well-built with quality materials. Hardwoods are easy to maintain and improve with wear, unlike carpet that eventually needs to be replaced.

Hardwoods add value to your home, says the National Wood Flooring Association NWFA. In a recent survey of participating real estate agents, the trade association found that real estate agents said that a house with wood floors would sell faster than a carpeted house, by a margin of three to one. About 58 percent said a house with wood floors would bring a higher price.

If you have hardwoods under carpet, its easy and inexpensive to tear the carpet out and refinish your floors. Or, you can choose to install hardwoods if theres only sub-floor underneath the carpet.

You have several options:

Solid hardwoods -- Solid hardwoods are the most expensive option. They come in planks of various lengths and are typically 3/4 thick. The floors are installed as raw wood and sanded down and stained on site. The advantage is that your floors can be refinished often over the years. Solid hardwoods are not recommended over concrete slab foundations. Disadvantages are that hardwoods cannot be washed with water, water leaks can cause them to bow, and direct sunlight can cause stained finishes to bleach.

Engineered hardwoods -- Composed of layers or plies of wood that are glued together and finished with a laminate, engineered hardwoods are finished with a final layer of hardwood that is generally between " and " thick. The advantage of engineered hardwoods is that they are suitable for any foundation. Drawbacks are that laminated floors usually cannot be refinished.

Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of >

Stains and finishes

If your floor comes unfinished, you need to know what kind of wood its made of in order to select a stain, as different woods can make stain colors change tone. A good way to choose is to ask the installer for samples, or you can go to a local paint and home improvement store and view stain colors. Sherman Williams "Wood >

Keep in mind that unfinished floors must be sanded, stained and sealed on site, which is labor intensive, time consuming and messy as you wait for each layer to dry. Factory finished floors are usually warrantied, they can be installed immediately which saves time and labor, and only the glue to the subfloor has to dry.

Finishes are important to choose because they dictate how you will care for your floor. If your floor has a penetrating seal, you will have to wax it to keep it burnished. If the floor is sealed with a urethane, polyurethane or other polymer coat, its water resistant and easy to clean with a mop.

Types of wood

The most common woods for floors are species of oak, pine, walnut, pecan, birch, beech, ash, cherry, maple, cypress and Douglas fir.

Wood for floors can be exotic, and are prized for their unusual grains and colors. Exotic woods include mahogany, teak, and Brazilian cherry.

One of the most popular flooring options is actually a grass, not a wood. Bamboo is a quick-growing resource that is easily replenished, making it a good choice for green-building. Bamboo can be cut and finished like any hardwood, and is more durable in some cases.

To learn more about wood floors, visit Woodfloors.org.

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8 Ways To Save Money On Your Move and Move In

Buying a house and moving in is gonna cost you. Theres no way around it. Right? Well, actually, there may just be a way to make it not quite so painful. A willingness to negotiate and put in a little work plus a little inside info on special deals you can take advantage of can help you cut some costs. Here are eight ways to save money on your move and move in.

1. Dont take it all with you

Furniture youre no longer in love with or appliances like washers and dryers or the fridge you have in the garage can be a pain to move. You can potentially save money and time and hassle by including them in your home sale. First-time buyers or someone moving from out of state may appreciate your old stuff far more than you, and you dont have to pay to haul it to your next place.

2. Leave the flat screen

If you have a mounted flat screen TV thats at least a few years old, consider leaving it behind too. The cost of taking it down and repairing the wall behind it plus the care involved in moving it might not be worth it. Flat-screen technology is always improving while costs are coming down, so its a good excuse to buy something bigger and better without spending a lot.

3. Negotiate everything

If youve been looking for a house or have bought one before, youre probably already aware of closing costs. But you might not be aware of how much you can negotiate with your lender.

"Shop around before choosing a mortgage lender, but dont stop there," said Bankrate. "When you receive your good faith estimate of closing costs, or GFE, the negotiation hasnt ended." This itemized list of estimated closing costs includes lenders fees as well as items such as appraisal charges and title insurance premiums.

"The lender or broker charges some fees, and third parties charge others. The first step is to find out which are loan origination fees and which are third-party fees. Dont guess. Ask the lender or broker."

Bankrate advises that while "some items are non-negotiable: taxes, city and county stamps, recording fees, prorated interest and reserves," negotiating on others that can "be waived or reduced" can save you money."

4. Barter for services

Need a handyman and have appliances or furniture youre getting rid of? You just might be able to make a deal. Ask around for referrals and then introduce a barter system into the equation during your first conversation. You might be surprised what you can get for what youve already got.

5. Move Smart

Once youre out of college, or maybe out of your first post-college apartment, thinking about renting a U-Haul and moving yourself or with a few good friends seems less than desirable. But if youre willing to sweat a little ok, a lot you can save a bundle. Just remember two important things to entice and thank your friends: Pizza. And beer.

If you dont want to do the whole thing on your own, think of ways you can save by doing a hybrid move:

  • Do the packing and unpacking yourself
  • Have everything on one floor. Stairs can add considerably to the cost of a move.
  • Pare down. Maybe you dont need to bring all that stuff with you. Selling it will earn you a few bucks and save you a few more.

6. Consider moving and storage hybrid options

A company like PODS or U-Pack might be a solution for you if you need self storage wrapped into your move. Essentially, the company drops off a mobile storage unit at your house and you pack it up yourself. They then pick it up and move it for you. You can tack on storage at the end if needed, making this a particularly good solution for those who have time between their move out and their move in. This type of move can cost up to 35 percent less than traditional movers, but keep in mind you will be doing the laborjust not the driving.

7. Take advantage of special offers

Move-in offers for cable, Internet, and phone service can save you a lot of money. But they often come with a catch that could cost you down the line. Look out for special limited-time offersone-year or six-month specials that expire, leaving you with much higher rates after the introductory period.

8. Dont rush the renos

Chances are, after you move in, youre going to start receiving all kinds of junk mail asking if you want to refi, redo your lawn, and apply for 72 different credit cards. In what seems like an endless pile of junk mail will be some special offers for new homebuyers, but they might not arrive for a month or more. Look out for coupons from handymen, companies selling flooring and window coverings, home furnishing companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and World Market, and offers from landscapers with discounts for new clients. If youre planning to shop, renovate, or do some work on your interior or exterior, taking advantage of a few of these offers can help shave down the cost.

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The Best Advice For First-time Home Buyers

Before you start seriously shopping for a home, theres some groundwork you should do to put yourself in the best position to buy a home.

Start early, a couple of months before you talk to a lender or hire a real estate professional.

Check and repair your credit

The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the three nationwide consumer credit report companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to provide you with a free copy of your credit report and FICO scores upon request once a year. You can order the reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.

Each credit report company has its own criteria for scoring your credit report. A lender will usually use the middle FICO score. All three scores need to be as high as possible for you to receive the best interest rates.

If you can, order the reports at least three months before applying for your home loan. If you find a mistake you need to correct, or you want to improve your score by paying down an account, youll need at least two months before the credit score improves.

You can dispute an inaccurate item on the report by contacting the consumer reporting company and the information provider in writing. Be sure to include copies of your proof.

Dont accidentally raise your scores

Lenders not only look at how much credit youre using, they consider how much credit you have available. However, now is not the time to be opening any new accounts or closing existing accounts.

Dont purchase furniture or a new car or any other big ticket item before buying a home. Lenders are very careful about the amount of debt you have and how much you pay down every month on the debt payments you have.

Get Loan Pre-approval

Dont start house hunting without knowing how much home you can buy. To find out, you have to apply for a loan, which means youre sharing financial information with the lender such as income and work history, student loans, child support or alimony, and credit card balances.

Contact your lender for a preapproval letter. The letter shows that the lender has taken a 1003 loan application, studied your debt ratios to your income, and helped you select a loan program such as fixed rate, ARMs adjustable rate mortgages, FHA or VA government-backed loans, etc.

Your lender will confirm your down payment source, interest rate, type of loan thats best for your circumstances, and the terms of your loan. The lender will give you a loan commitment based on your qualifications. The home you select must meet appraisal, and the underwriting department must approve the loan.

A preapproval letter will open doors for you, pardon the pun. Sellers will be impressed because youre prepared to buy and that a lender has agreed to process your loan. Your real estate agent will have to know the terms of your loan in order to write your offer.

Find out about federal, state, and local government incentives

Get help with your loan rate, closing costs and/or down payments through federal and state housing authority programs. For example, there are also incentives for workforce personnel police, fire fighters/emergency services personnel and teachers.

Each community is different, so click on HUDs Housing Authorities to find out whats being offered in your community. Your city may be offering tax incentives to revitalize a designated public improvement area.

Narrow the choices

Think about how you want to live. One story or two? Low-maintenance condo or big yard for the kids? New or older home?

Drive through the neighborhoods youre interested in and look at homes. Visit a few open houses in the neighborhoods you will consider. They will usually be listed in your local newspaper with the hours hosted. Be sure to tell the real estate professional hosting the open house that you are already working with a buyers agent.

With Google maps, video, virtual tours, multiple photos, school reports, neighborhood reports and more available online or on phone apps, you can get a good idea of what neighborhoods, home >

Find an Experienced Real Estate Broker or Agent

Buying a first home is a complex process. An experienced real estate broker or agent will assist you all through the process: the home search, comparable homes sold, making an offer, inspection, repairs, and the appraisal, as well as help you find the best value, neighborhood, and quality home for your budget and requirements.

The sellers real estate broker pays your broker or agent out of your loan proceeds. If you dont use your own agent, the sellers broker keeps the commission, so you might as well avail yourself of professional advice. Your real estate broker or agent works in your best interest.

Dont expect perfection

Theres no perfect home. You may want all the latest amenities of a new home, but even new homes come at a price, including longer commutes, higher community fees, and bigger pricetags.

Homes that need updating are priced below homes that are up to the minute and move-in ready. That could be to your financial advantage, so try to look beyond outdated fixtures and focus instead on the floorplan and dimensions. Ignore the sellers tastes and imagine each room clean and clear of clutter and with your own things in them.

Most cosmetic changes are >

Think long-term investment

Buying a home can be a wise financial investment, if you buy right and hold your home for long-term gain. Because of closing and moving costs, its nearly impossible to buy a home and sell it immediately for a large gain, but it is possible to sell after a couple of years with no capital gains tax should you make a profit.

According to the National Association of REALTORS, home equity growth beats inflation by about one to two percent annually, not to mention government subsidies for home ownership in the form of tax >

However, if you look at owning a home strictly as an investment, youll miss many pleasures. Look at your home as a home, rather than part of your portfolio. Buying a home allows you to live in the neighborhood you want for as long as you want, without having to worry that the landlord is going to sell out from under you. Your stake in a home makes you part of the community, committed to making it a better place to live.

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Updated: Thursday, August 28, 2014

Choosing Hardwoods For Floors...
The rich patina of wood floors adds beauty and elegance to any home.Older homes were ...

8 Ways To Save Money On Your M...
Buying a house and moving in is gonna cost you. Theres no way around it. Right“ Well, ...

Copyright ©2014Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved

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