MiamiRealEstateKing

So You Want To Buy a Condo, huh….Get Ready Then to Take Some Responsibility

In Buyers, credit, fannie mae, First Time Sellers, First-Time Buyer, florida, forclosure, foreclosure, foreign nationals, Freddie Mac, Home Buyer, home sellers, homeowner, Industry trends, Interest Rates, international buyers, Investing, Investor, Lease-Option, lenders, Loan Originator, miami, miami beach, Miami-Dade County, mortgage, real estate, REO, second home, Self-Directed IRA, Sellers, Short Sales, South Beach, vacation home, Wenceslao on October 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Here’s the scary part…I don’t recommend anyone in particular – you must consider the professionals you work with carefully and examine several before you can make the right choice.

Once you’ve chosen which seller type you will pursue (there are at least three and some will argue, four – they are at least, those in distress, REOs and regular sellers), you’ll need to consider what strategy will work for each, and for this, you’ll need at least two professionals: a Realtor and a Lender/Broker

Like you, I have also worked with a number of professionals in different industries and, you get good and bad in each.

One of the first things you need to do BEFORE you find that “ideal” place you want to buy or BEFORE you decide to sell, is to interview several real estate agents. If you are buying, you must also choose, in a close second, a mortgage professional.

Focusing on your financing alternatives, you’ll need to choose between a mortgage broker and a traditional lender (typically a bank), and make sure they will treat you with honesty and a high degree of integrity and professionalism.

Your agent will not (normally), offer you the name of a lender who may have ever done something to jeopardize that agent’s license or relationship with a buyer.  Remember though that each, will have different experiences, access to different resources and each can be an asset to you in their own way. It is up to you however, to discover which among the many, many choices, is right for you and your needs.

In my humble opinion (and you know what they say: “Opinions are like noses….everybody has one”), mortgage brokers often have access to more than one source of funds and this is why I like brokers best. They’re not tied to what their boss says they must provide as an option to their clients/ borrower-applicants and they are actually…not the boogeyman the media has played them to be.

Remember that, a mortgage broker’s main job is to counsel you on loan alternatives, take your application, collect data and “shop” to find the best lender for your needs. In the end however, it is the actual lender who must evaluate the entire package submitted by the broker on your behalf, during a process called “underwriting” when the lender decides if they want to approve the loan.

Therefore, the funds do not come from the brokers, the brokers act as intermediaries. The funds come from the actual lenders who approve the loan.

These lenders then either keep your loan in their portfolio or sell them in the secondary market to any number of investors, including Freddie and Fannie. This is how our economy takes each dollar lent, and turns it into $10 in a process I now forget what is called.

Just the same, buyers must vett these brokers (or any lender for that matter – after all,  look at all the trouble they are ALL in), and ask all the right questions. Choose one, and keep a backup.

In the end, always remember that is not the company (mortgage brokerage or institutional lender), who provides you professional service, it is the broker/loan officer you select who provides you service on behalf of their employer and you need to vett them both.

Let them know a bit about the property you’re looking to buy, they’ll need to know about your financials, and at the appropriate time, they’ll need to pull your credit and obtain your tax returns, etc in order to give you a valid pre-approval/pre-qualification letter (which we’ll need to provide along with your offer).

Ask them how long have they been in business, how many lenders do they represent, how to find out about their company and their personal license (you can check the status and record of their license online), how do they determine which program is best for you, can they provide you more than one or two choices for the purchase you’re looking to make, how do they communicate with you, how do you keep track of your file, how do they handle your questions throughout, etc.

In short, you need to determine if they’re a good fit for you, just like folks may want to know about you and your services before they hire you – you’ll want to know about any service provider, including Realtors(c), attorneys, doctors and CPAs.

Brokers can only control how they qualify “you”, and as a second step, help you determine if a property you like, meets financing criteria. Once they can put a checkmark on both…we have the potential for a deal.

After that, or when they advise, you’ll need to complete a formal loan application (AKA: 1003 application), provide any additional documents they require from you, request a Condo Questionnaire from the association (which will typically cost you between $100-$150), verification of employment and domicile, request appraisal, etc.  In other words…that’s when the fun begins.

Up to the day of closing, they’ll need to re-verify that the building is not in worse financial shape than when the process began, that your credit has not dropped, that your DTI (debt-to-income) ratio is still within guidelines, that there are no new surprises (in conjunction with the title agent), that can affect closing (lien, open permits or other title issues that may come up), make sure property insurance coverage is in place, that you have condo association approval, etc.

In short, there’s a LOT of paper and behind-the-scenes work we all have to do (I also need to keep all parties communicating and all dots or links in the chain connected throughout), and working with a professional that will help you the way you expect them to, is critical.

A professional Realtor(c) (remember that, only a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors, and who adheres to their strict Code of Ethics, can call themselves Realtor(c)), will want to make sure to guide you and empower you to make the right decision. By the same token, you nust make sure you are being served by the right professionals along the way, including the lender you choose – and the choice is yours.

Speak to them (there’s no charge or obligation for this process – we all get paid when we close the deal), reach them by email, ask them to call you, see how responsive they are, do they answer all your questions to your satisfaction and like in a beauty contest – you’ll need to then choose a winner  😉

With the situation in condo financing the way it is, you don’t want to waste your time using an agent who does not know how to qualify your buyer (if you are selling), or if you are buying, qualify and guide you as a buyer. Either can kill the deal and potentially cost you money.

Other points to consider is the recent Halt of all foreclosures by some of the major lenders (see previous post), and the fact that condo units in some buildings simply, can only be purchased with cash since no financing may be possible in many of them due to current market conditions.

In short, buying real estate is not like buying a can of beans at the supermarket. You  don’t just pick one, pay for it, and enjoy it. Most people find buying a car confusing. Buying real estate is no different and, being that this is among the largest purchase you’ll make, you should approach it responsibly.

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Your comments / opinion welcomed

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