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May
31

Bidding War Mistakes - Buy a Home - CB Prime Properties

Our real estate agents know buyers can find themselves under a lot of stress if a bidding war breaks out. When comparing Albany homes for sale, buyers want a price they can feel good about—but they often feel like they have to stick it out and bid on a home they fell in love with.

Having the advice of a real estate agent you trust is one of the most important ways to avoid bidding war mistakes. Your agent is there to help you understand the process, know the fair market value of a home, and make informed decisions.

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February
14

Renting Before Buying - CB Prime Properties

In 2021, our real estate agents guided clients through a housing market unlike anything in living memory. Low interest rates inspired many people to pursue the dream of homeownership. At the same time, much of New York saw housing prices skyrocket.

No matter if you're looking at Albany homes for sale or elsewhere in the state, today's market holds opportunities and surprises—for buyers and sellers alike. Knowing that interest rates may soon rise, many homeowners are taking the plunge and selling right away.

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January
17

Financing a Home in 2022 - CB Prime Properties

The year is off to a good start, and the market is moving ahead at full speed. If you're thinking about buying a house this year, now is the time to start planning ahead. Whether your goal is to make your move by spring or wait until fall, our real estate agents strongly recommend getting everything in order sooner rather than later. Most importantly, make sure you know what the lending landscape looks like for the year ahead so that you don't get caught off guard by last-minute surprises.

  • Credit Counts
    While lenders are eager to make loans, they continue to emphasize ensuring borrowers have credit scores that confirm their ability to repay the loan. As in years past, anything above around 670 is considered "Good" credit and will be sufficient to qualify for most loans. Of course, anything above 700, or between 750 and around 800, will qualify most borrowers for the best loan terms and options. And, while it's a badge of honor to achieve, striving to earn a score of between 800-850 is unlikely to be viewed by lenders any differently than a credit score in the same ballpark.

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October
25

Foundation Inspection - Buy a Home - CB Prime Properties

Discerning homebuyers who want to avoid cookie-cutter options available in planned communities are often attracted to the unique architecture and mature landscaping that can be found in some older Albany homes for sale. But for a house to offer the full value its appearance suggests, it must have a strong foundation. If you're looking to put your home on the market, our real estate agents suggest looking for signs of potential foundation issues before you do. 

  • Perform a perimeter check
    As you walk around the exterior of the house, Look down the length of each wall to spot any bulging or leaning. Either suggests that there could be some issues with a deteriorating foundation, so you will want to call in a professional immediately. While hairline cracks in the concrete are normal, anything over 1/4 inch is a problem that should be resolved as quickly as possible. Look also for signs of standing water which can cause serious damage to the foundation. This can often be resolved by simply cleaning and repairing gutters and drains to ensure water is properly directed away from the house.

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September
27

Buying a Flipped House - CB Prime Properties

You've seen all the shows where older, abandoned homes are turned into gorgeous, modern dwellings. Flipped houses are usually attractive, 100% move-in ready, and competitively priced. They can seem ideal in today's inventory-strapped real estate market. If you're thinking of buying a flipped house, however, you need to determine whether it is the treasure it appears to be or a dust-heap in disguise. Some developers will flip a house to make a quick buck, using cheap labor, going with cheap finishes, and taking shortcuts. Here are some ways to spot renovation problems in a flipped house for sale, according to our real estate agents.

  • Just Look Down
    If you want an immediate assessment of the overall quality of the renovation work, look at the flooring. Poor workmanship is a red flag that you shouldn't ignore. For instance, if they've got flooring butted up to doorjambs or base molding, that could be a hint at more serious flaws. Also, wall-to-wall carpeting can be used to conceal water-damaged hardwood floors. Cracked or bouncy tiles could indicate the subfloor was not laid correctly.

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September
13

TV Placement - Buy a Home - CB Prime Properties

If you're browsing for a new home, one of the many questions you might ask yourself is, "Where will my TV go?" Our real estate agents know exactly how difficult it can be to find a house that meets both your functional and style needs.

For one, a television is a necessary living room fixture for many people, and knowing where to place the TV can be puzzling, especially in a room with several windows or a fireplace.

The size and structure of a living room are some of the most important features you'll have to consider when buying a house. Here are a few ideas on where to place a TV to help you create a setup that best suits your style and living room space.

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August
30

Making an Offer Stand Out - Buying a Home - CB Prime Properties

Whew! This market is competitive, and you may be worried that your offer will get lost in the shuffle. But there are ways to stand out from the crowd. Our real estate agents have some stellar advice to make your offer get noticed when you're ready for that dream home from Albany homes for sale

  1. Offer a bigger down payment.
    Offering a larger down payment than you need to can send a message about how serious you are. It also says you're on top of your financial obligations. Positioning yourself as someone who's in good shape financially will catch your seller's attention.

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August
24

You don't need a real estate license to find your dream home, but it does help to become familiar with the real estate jargon you might encounter during the process. When searching for a home or applying for a mortgage, you may hear your real estate agent or lender use any of the terms or acronyms below.

Keep this four-part guide handy — you'll be fluent in the language of home buying before you know it.

When you're searching for a home

  • Approved for short sale: A term that indicates that a homeowner's bank has approved a reduced listing price on a home, and the home is ready for resale.
  • Buyers market: Market conditions that exist when homes for sale outnumber buyers. Homes sit on the market a long time, and prices drop.
  • Comparative market analysis (CMA): An in-depth analysis, prepared by a real estate agent, that determines the estimated value of a home based on recently sold homes of similar condition, size, features and age that are located in the same area.
  • Comps: Or comparable sales, are homes in a given area that have sold within the past six months that a real estate agent uses to determine a home's value.
  • Days on market (DOM): The number of days a property listing is considered active.
  • Listing price: The price of a home, as set by the seller.
  • Multiple listing service (MLS): A database where real estate agents list properties for sale.
  • Sellers market: Market conditions that exist when buyers outnumber homes for sale. Bidding wars are common.
  • Short sale: The sale of a home by an owner who owes more on the home than it's worth. The owner's bank must approve a lower listing price before the home can be sold.

When you're applying for a mortgage

  • Back-end ratio: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower's eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares the borrower's monthly debt payments to gross income.
  • Depository institutions: Banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. These institutions underwrite as well as set home loan pricing in-house.
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI): A ratio that compares a home buyer's expenses to gross income.
  • Housing ratio: One of two debt-to-income ratios that a lender analyzes to determine a borrower's eligibility for a home loan. The ratio compares total housing cost (principal, homeowners insurance, taxes and private mortgage insurance) to gross income.
  • Loan estimate: A three-page document sent to an applicant three days after they apply for a home loan. The document includes loan terms, monthly payment and closing costs.
  • Loan-to-value ratio (LTV): The amount of the loan divided by the price of the house. Lenders reward lower LTV ratios.
  • Origination fee: A fee, charged by a broker or lender, to initiate and complete the home loan application process.
  • Pre-approval: A thorough assessment of a borrower's income, assets and other data to determine a loan amount they would qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.
  • Pre-qualification: A basic assessment of income, assets and credit score to determine what, if any, loan programs a borrower might qualify for. A real estate agent will request a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter before showing a buyer a home.
  • Underwriting: A process a lender follows to assess a home loan applicant's income, assets and credit, and the risk involved in offering the applicant a mortgage.

When you're shopping for a mortgage

  • Conventional loan: A home loan not guaranteed by a government agency, such as the FHA or the VA.
  • Down payment: A certain portion of the home's purchase price that a buyer must pay. A minimum requirement is often dictated by the loan type.
  • Fannie Mae: A government-sponsored enterprise chartered in 1938 to help ensure a reliable and affordable supply of mortgage funds throughout the country.
  • Federal Housing Administration (FHA): A government agency created by the National Housing Act of 1934 that insures loans made by private lenders.
  • FHA 203(k): A rehabilitation loan backed by the federal government that permits homebuyers to finance money into a mortgage to repair, improve or upgrade a home.
  • Foreclosure: A property repossessed by a bank when the owner fails to make mortgage payments.
  • Freddie Mac: A government agency chartered by Congress in 1970 to provide a constant source of mortgage funding for the nation's housing markets.
  • Mortgage broker: A licensed professional who works on behalf of the buyer to secure financing through a bank or other lending institution.
  • Mortgage interest rate: The price of borrowing money. The base rate is set by the Federal Reserve and then customized per borrower, based on credit score, down payment, property type and points the buyer pays to lower the rate.
  • Piggyback loan: A combination of loans bundled to avoid private mortgage insurance. One loan covers 80% of the home's value, another loan covers 10% to 15% of the home's value, and the buyer contributes the remainder.
  • Principal, interest, property taxes and homeowners insurance (PITI): The components of a monthly mortgage payment.
  • Private mortgage insurance (PMI): A fee charged to borrowers who make a down payment that is less than 20% of the home's value. The fee, 0.3% to 1.5% of the yearly loan amount, can be canceled in certain circumstances when the borrower reaches 20% equity.
  • Points: Prepaid interest owed at closing, with one point representing 1% of the loan. Paying points, which are tax deductible, will lower the monthly mortgage payment.

When you've chosen a home

  • American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI): A not-for-profit professional association that sets and promotes standards for property inspections. Look for this accreditation or something similar when shopping for a home inspector.
  • Cash-value policy: A homeowners insurance policy that pays the replacement cost of a home, minus depreciation, should damage occur.
  • Closing costs: Fees associated with the purchase of a home that are due at the end of the sales transaction. Fees may include the appraisal, the home inspection, a title search, a pest inspection and more. Buyers should budget for an amount that is 1% to 3% of the home's purchase price.
  • Contingencies: Conditions written into a home purchase contract that protect the buyer should issue arise with financing, the home inspection, etc.
  • Earnest money: A security deposit made by the buyer to assure the seller of his or her intent to purchase.
  • Escrow account: An account required by a lender and funded by a buyer's mortgage payment to pay the buyer's homeowners insurance and property taxes.
  • Escrow state: A state in which an escrow agent is responsible for closing.
  • Home inspection: A non-destructive visual look at the systems in a building. Inspection occurs when the home is under contract or in escrow.
  • Homeowners insurance: A policy that protects the structure of the home, its contents, injury to others and living expenses should damage occur.
  • In escrow: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title searched for liens, etc.
  • Title insurance: Insurance that protects the buyer and lender should an individual or entity step forward with a claim that was attached to the property before the seller transferred legal ownership of the property or "title" to the buyer.
  • Transfer taxes: Fees imposed by the state, county or municipality on transfer of title.
  • Under contract: A period of time (30 days or longer) after a buyer has made an offer on a home and a seller has accepted. During this time, the home is inspected and appraised, and the title is searched for liens, etc.
  • Walkthrough: A buyer's final inspection of a home before closing.

When you own a home

  • Equity: A percentage of the home's value owned by the homeowner.
  • Homeowners Association (HOA): The governing body of a housing development, condo or townhome complex that sets rules and regulations. They charge dues used to maintain common areas.
  • Property tax exemption: A reduction in taxes based on specific criteria, such as installation of a renewable energy system or rehabilitation of a historic home.
  • Tax lien: The government's legal claim against property when the homeowner neglects or fails to pay a tax debt.

Find out what else you can do to prepare for buying a home here.


About the author

May
17

Declutter Before Moving - Homebuyers - CB Prime Properties

There are plenty of great Albany homes for sale. If you're looking to move, our real estate agents can help you find the best place for your needs. One thing you'll have to do yourself, though, is sorting through your belongings to decide what to pack up and bring with you and what to get rid of.

Preparing for a move is a great time to purge the items you no longer need, want, or use. But the question is, what do you do with the things you're getting rid of? When possible, you should donate them to avoid waste, rather than simply throwing them out. There are several places that take donations. However, not everything will be accepted by your local donation centers. Here's a basic overview of what you can and can't donate to keep in mind while you do your pre-move purge.

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April
19

FICO Score Importance - Buy a Home - CB Prime Properties

So you've decided you want to buy a home and have already toured several Albany homes for sale, but did you know your FICO score can make a big difference? Assessing your FICO score can help you determine if it's high enough to qualify for a mortgage loan on terms you can afford. If you're planning to make this major purchase, read on to understand why your FICO score is important and the steps you can take to improve it.

  • What is a FICO Score?
    Created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, the FICO score is a three-digit number used by lenders to assess an applicant's creditworthiness. A FICO score ranges from 300 to 850, is largely based on the information in your credit reports, and can help lenders assess how likely you're to repay debt. This, in turn, can affect how much you can borrow, how much it will cost, and how many months you have to repay. FICO scores are used by more than 90% of lending companies, but not all credit scores are FICO scores. In fact, FICO releases new credit score versions to improve on the last one and create a more reliable and predictive score for lenders. This means that you can have several FICO scores, based on the model used by the mortgage company.

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