Close
Searching for Your New Home

Step 1: Review Financing Options

Financing your new home purchase begins with a consultation with a qualified loan agent. If you wish, we can recommend one who has the requisite experience, competence and integrity.

There are a wide array of loan options, and choosing the one that works best for you will depend on a number of factors: your financial wherewithal and future plans, the monthly housing expense you are comfortable with, cash available for the down payment and closing costs, how long you plan to own your new home, etc. You may wish to consult your accountant regarding financial and tax implications.

Step 2: Loan Pre-Approval

Your home search should begin with obtaining formal loan pre-approval—so that you fully understand your financing options, what you can afford, and what your closing costs and ongoing housing expenses will be. Furthermore, a lender pre-approval letter significantly strengthens your position when it is time to make your purchase offer to the Seller. Your loan agent will guide you through the pre-approval process, which involves the submittal, to chosen lenders, of your loan application and accompanying documentation regarding employment, income, assets, debts and credit history.

Step 3: Your New Home is Found & your Offer Accepted

You have already been loan pre-approved; now the lender must approve the specific purchase terms and the property itself. This involves review and approval of the purchase contract, the property appraisal, the Preliminary Title Report, and any other supporting documentation required. Depending on the lender, the property and specific circumstances, this process typically takes from fourteen to thirty days.

Step 4: Loan Approval

The property has appraised satisfactorily and all supporting documentation approved by the lender. The lender issues a formal loan commitment letter, and the purchase contract’s loan contingency is removed.

Step 5: Loan Documents

After formal loan approval, the loan documents are drawn up and sent by the lender to the title company. After careful examination, you sign these and other closing documents; they are then notarized by the escrow agent and returned to the lender for final review and funding.

Step 6: Funding

The lender funds the loan, depositing the loan amount into the escrow account. You deposit any additional monies necessary to complete the purchase such as the remainder of your down payment and closing costs. These final monies are typically delivered by cashier’s check or bank wire.

Step 7: Recordation of Transfer of Ownership & Close of Escrow

The legal documents transferring the property into your name and the deed of trust pertinent to the property’s new loan are legally recorded with the County Clerk. The funds in escrow are then disbursed, as appropriate, to the Seller, the Seller’s lender and other involved parties or service providers. Escrow is closed, and you are now the owner of your new home!

Obtaining a Loan

Step 1: Review Financing Options

Financing your new home purchase begins with a consultation with a qualified loan agent. If you wish, we can recommend one who has the requisite experience, competence and integrity.

There are a wide array of loan options, and choosing the one that works best for you will depend on a number of factors: your financial wherewithal and future plans, the monthly housing expense you are comfortable with, cash available for the down payment and closing costs, how long you plan to own your new home, etc. You may wish to consult your accountant regarding financial and tax implications.

Step 2: Loan Pre-Approval

Your home search should begin with obtaining formal loan pre-approval—so that you fully understand your financing options, what you can afford, and what your closing costs and ongoing housing expenses will be. Furthermore, a lender pre-approval letter significantly strengthens your position when it is time to make your purchase offer to the Seller. Your loan agent will guide you through the pre-approval process, which involves the submittal, to chosen lenders, of your loan application and accompanying documentation regarding employment, income, assets, debts and credit history.

Step 3: Your New Home is Found & your Offer Accepted

You have already been loan pre-approved; now the lender must approve the specific purchase terms and the property itself. This involves review and approval of the purchase contract, the property appraisal, the Preliminary Title Report, and any other supporting documentation required. Depending on the lender, the property and specific circumstances, this process typically takes from fourteen to thirty days.

Step 4: Loan Approval

The property has appraised satisfactorily and all supporting documentation approved by the lender. The lender issues a formal loan commitment letter, and the purchase contract’s loan contingency is removed.

Step 5: Loan Documents

After formal loan approval, the loan documents are drawn up and sent by the lender to the title company. After careful examination, you sign these and other closing documents; they are then notarized by the escrow agent and returned to the lender for final review and funding.

Step 6: Funding

The lender funds the loan, depositing the loan amount into the escrow account. You deposit any additional monies necessary to complete the purchase such as the remainder of your down payment and closing costs. These final monies are typically delivered by cashier’s check or bank wire.

Step 7: Recordation of Transfer of Ownership & Close of Escrow

The legal documents transferring the property into your name and the deed of trust pertinent to the property’s new loan are legally recorded with the County Clerk. The funds in escrow are then disbursed, as appropriate, to the Seller, the Seller’s lender and other involved parties or service providers. Escrow is closed, and you are now the owner of your new home!

Inspections and Home Warranties

Buyers Are Responsible for Inspecting the Property

The Purchase Agreement typically contains provisions allowing you to perform any inspections you desire. Inspections do not guarantee the condition of the home; instead their purpose is to educate you regarding the home’s current condition and how to maintain it in the future.

Inspections are completed within a contractually specified time period, typically 10-15 days. If you are satisfied with the condition of the property, you remove the inspection contingency and proceed with the sale. If you are not satisfied, you may cancel the contract or negotiate with the Seller. In a negotiation, the purchase price may be adjusted, a credit may be given in escrow, or the Seller may perform work prior to close of
escrow.

Structural Pest Control Inspection

Sometimes referred to as a “Termite Report,” it examines all types of insect and fungus damage (Section 1) as well as conditions that could lead to damage (Section 2). This inspection is performed by a specially licensed contractor who must inspect properties according to criteria established by the State Board of Pest Inspection.

Contractor Inspections

A general contractor’s inspection will check the overall condition of the home from the foundation to the roof, including electrical, plumbing and heating, the basic structure, as well as the quality of the finish work. Other recommended inspections may include structural engineering, soil conditions, fireplace and furnace. The inspection period is useful for obtaining estimates for repairs and improvements you plan to make later.

Who Pays for Inspections?

Typically, the Buyer pays for inspections. Pest Control Inspections generally range from $350 to $500 and Contractor’s Inspections range from $400 to $800 depending on the size of the home. It is important to use qualified professionals and we can recommend inspectors in every category.

On Your Final Walk-through, Be Sure That:

  • Required repairs have been made. Obtain copies of paid bills and warranties.
  • All items included in the sale (appliances, window coverings, light fixtures) are present in the home.
  • All appliances are operating.
  • Intercom, doorbell and alarm are operational.
  • Hot water heater is working.
  • Heating and air conditioning systems are working.
  • No plants or shrubs have been removed from the yard.
  • Garage door opener and other remotes are available.
  • Instruction books and warranties on appliances and fixtures are there.
  • All personal items of the Seller and all debris will be removed by close of escrow.

Home Warranty Plans

Several Home Warranty Plans are available that provide insurance for the major systems and basic appliances of the home. The cost is approximately $350 to $500 per year depending on the extent of coverage. These plans can easily pay for themselves should a covered item need repair or replacement.

What is Escrow?

The sale of real property involves transferring large sums of money and signing important documents by you, the Seller and your lender. Escrow is the process in which an impartial third party acts as a stakeholder and facilitator for both you and the Seller. Typically this entity is the Title Company. It carries out both parties’ instructions and handles the paperwork, distribution of funds, title insurance, and the transfer and recordation of the title deed.

Escrow is normally opened within one business day of acceptance of the purchase agreement and at this time your initial deposit as specified in the contract is deposited into the escrow account. The duration of the escrow period—from offer acceptance to recordation of the transfer of ownership—is usually 21 to 45 days.

Escrow Checklist

  • Property Inspections. Professional inspections probably constitute the most important part of your due diligence on the property, and are typically conducted within 15 days of offer acceptance. Please review the “Buyer’s Inspection Advisory” carefully. Inspection fees are usually paid by you, but the costs of issues that surface in the course of inspections are normally negotiable between you and the Seller (as specified in the purchase contract). It is vital you attend all inspections so you can see for yourself any problems that surface, ask pertinent questions of the inspector, and gain first-hand knowledge about property conditions and maintenance.
  • Structural Pest Control Inspection. A licensed structural pest inspector will examine the home for evidence of termites, dry rot, earth to wood contact, water intrusion and beetle infestation, and then provide a written report and bid for corrective work.
  • Contractor Inspection. This inspection covers major systems such as plumbing, heating and electrical; structural elements; roof; safety features and building code compliance.
  • Other Inspections. Inspections by other professionals may be warranted based upon the specific property and disclosures provided by the Seller. These include inspections by structural engineers, surveyors, and experts in soils, roofs, fireplaces, underground storage tanks and environmental hazards.
  • Review Disclosures. Sellers of residential properties and the real estate agents involved are required by law to disclose any material information known regarding the condition and circumstances of the property, and a number of statutorily required reports and disclosures will be supplied for your careful review. Sellers of probates and foreclosures are exempted from a number of these requirements.
  • Finalize Financing. Ideally, you’ve already been pre-approved by the lender of your choice prior to making your offer to buy, During the escrow process, the lender will have the property appraised, and review the purchase contract , title report and other documents it deems necessary prior to giving final loan commitment. This process usually takes two to four weeks. Before funding, it will typically confirm that your financial situation has not changed.
  • Home Warranty. Home warranties are designed to protect you against unknown defects and failures in certain systems and appliances in your new home. We will provide information and referrals, outlining procedures, costs and coverage. Either Buyer or Seller may purchase a home warranty.
  • Remove Contingencies. Once you have completed your inspections and reviewed the reports and disclosures to your satisfaction, and received final loan approval, you will remove your contingencies of sale as specified in the purchase contract. Depending on how the contract was written, you may be increasing your deposit in escrow at this time.
  • Begin Moving Arrangements.
  • Review & Sign Loan & Closing Documents. We will accompany you to the title company to sign documents.

Before going to the title company to sign escrow papers, make sure to do the following:

  • Confirm you have satisfied all your lender’s requirements. Review the loan documents carefully.
  • Obtain hazard/fire insurance and provide your escrow officer with the insurance agent’s name and telephone number. You must have the policy in place before the lender will fund your loan.
  • Decide how you will hold title to your new home. It is recommended that you consult a lawyer, tax consultant or other qualified professional in making this decision.
  • Review the estimated closing statement of costs and disbursements prepared by the escrow agent.
  • Bring your valid driver’s license or passport to the signing appointment.
  • Deliver the Balance of Funds (down payment and closing costs) needed to close escrow to your title company at least two business days prior to closing in the form of a cashier’s check or wire transfer.
  • Receive your closing documents from Paragon and the title company.

Closing Escrow

After both buyer and seller have completed their contractual obligations, and closing documents have been signed, your lender will wire the loan funds into the escrow account. Your title company will then record the title deed and loan deed of trust at the Recorder’s Office. You are now the proud owner of your new home and the keys will be personally delivered to you. Occasionally, Sellers may request the right to rent back the property after the close of escrow for a short period of time. If you agree to a Seller rent-back, the terms are negotiated as part of the purchase contract. It is typical for the Seller to pay prorated rent equal to the principal and interest costs of your loan plus property taxes and insurance (PITI).

What to Keep from Your Closing

  • The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) statement. This form, sometimes called a HUD 1 statement, itemizes all the costs associated with the closing. You’ll need this for income tax purposes and when you sell the home.
  • The loan documents and the Truth-in-Lending Statement.
  • The title deed of the property.
  • Home insurance policy.
  • Copies of all documents pertaining to the home purchase: contract, addenda, reports, disclosures and any other documents received during the process.
Home Buying Process

home-buying-process1-334x450.jpg

While this flowchart depicts a typical process, the fast-paced and competitive San Francisco real estate market results in variations of this flowchart. Paragon Agents are able to quickly respond to market shifts.

9 Reasons To Buy A House Now

If you’re planning to buy a house right now, the next few months may be the best time to buy. Waiting for both housing prices and interest rates to fall may not be a good strategy for potential homebuyers since analysts don’t expect any significant declines in these two most important home-buying factors. Here’s nine real estate trends that suggest you should get into the housing market sooner than later. (To learn more, check out 5 Tips For Recession House Hunters)

TUTORIAL: Buying a Home

1. Lowest Housing Prices in Years

Nobody knows when the housing market will hit bottom, but prices are at their lowest in several years and may soon start inching back up again. So buying now or in the near future may be the right time. An abundance of bargain-priced housing is now available because of foreclosures and falling prices.

2. Interest Rates at a 50-Year Low

Interest rates are near a 50-year low, according to housing analysts. By the second week of May, 2011, 30-year fixed mortgage rates had fallen to their lowest rates of the year at 4.63%. Although mortgage rates vary from day to day, the 30-year rate at this level is an attractive inducement to first-time buyers, or buyers who want to either move up to larger residences, or others, including many empty-nesters wanting to sell and move to smaller houses or condos.

3. Interest Rates Expected to Go Up

As the economic recovery gains momentum, interest rates are expected to increase, making mortgages more expensive. Even a half-percent increase in mortgage interest can add a hundred dollars or more to your monthly payments, depending on the amount of your loan. (To learn more about interest rates, read Forces Behind Interest Rates.)

4. Adjustable Rate Mortgages at Record Lows

Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are also lower now, although there are risks that interest rates may increase over the life of the mortgage and the balloon payment due at the end of the mortgage life, usually three or five years, could be substantial. Nevertheless, for new buyers who are sure they’ll have enough income to meet payment obligations, an ARM may be the best way to buy a house. Keep in mind that payments may increase on a monthly basis. For a full explanation of advantages and risks in an ARM, visit the federalreserve.gov.

5. Low Down Payment Mortgages Available

Low-down-payment financing through Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages is available as an additional inducement to buy a house now. Down payment minimum requirements also fluctuate and may increase as the market heats up, so potential buyers with less cash to consummate a deal may be well-advised to buy now.

6. Easy to Qualify, Easy to Borrow
Lending standards have become less rigid recently, so qualifying for a mortgage may be easier. Experts advise that a potential buyer become pre-approved for a loan by a lending institution – meaning that a lender guarantees to make the loan contingent on an appraisal of the property. But the good news in seeking pre-approval is that lenders are now willing to let a potential buyer take on more debt than the previous formula allowed – a percentage of monthly income. (For more on getting a cost effective mortgage, see Score A Cheap Mortgage.)

7. Lenders Offer No-Fee Mortgages

Many banks and other lending institutions are waiving mortgage loan generation and other fees and points (each point represents 1% of the loan amount), thereby reducing the cost of buying.

8. Home Builders Eager to Sell, Offer Incentives

Home builders, competing with the resale market, are offering incentives to potential buyers to reduce their inventory of unsold new homes. Incentives may include cash for furniture or free refrigerators, washers and dryers. In Seattle, for example, builders have offered opportunities to win iPads or Smart phones, and $3,000 buyer bonuses. Specific demographic groups, including military personnel, police, firefighters and health-care workers, have been targeted by builders for special offers. But virtually anyone who can qualify for a mortgage is likely to get a good deal from a homebuilder who is eager to sell.

9. Motivated Home Owners Desperate to Sell

Desperate sellers of existing homes have also been offering attractive inducements to potential home buyers, including warranties on appliances, air conditioners and furnaces. Some sellers are even offering cash or have included furnishings, refrigerators, washers and dryers as a bonus to potential buyers. With so many existing homes in foreclosure or underwater – bargain prices are abound in this depressed market. (For help on buying a house, read Top Tips For First-Time Home Buyers.)

The Bottom Line
With a convergence of the factors above, all of which are favorable to the prospective home buyer, there may not be a better time to buy than right now. It’s a buyer’s market, but like everything else in life, the bargain deals won’t last. (To help determine if it is the right time to buy, read Are You Ready To Buy A House?)

SOURCE: Reasons To Buy A House Now — Marc Davis, provided by INVESTOPEDIA
Copyright (c) 2011 Investopedia US. All rights reserved. Investopedia.com is a division of ValueClick, Inc.


What is Title Insurance?

Title insurance is a contract of indemnity which guarantees that the title to the property is as reported. If it’s not as reported,you are reimbursed for actual loss or damage under the conditions specified in the policy. The title policy covers you for your loss up to the amount of the policy.

Title Search

Title companies work to eliminate risks by performing a search of the public records. The search consists of public records, laws and court decisions pertaining to the property to determine the current recorded ownership, and any recorded liens or encumbrances or any other matters of record which could affect the title to the property. When a title search is complete, the title company issues a Preliminary Title Report.

The Preliminary Title Report contains vital information which can affect the close of escrow: ownership of the subject property, how the current owners hold title, matters of record that specifically affect the subject property, a legal description of the property and an informational plat map.

What Does A Title Policy Cover?

Not all risks can be determined by a title search, since certain things such as forgeries, identity of persons, incompetency, failure to comply with the law, or incapacity cannot be uncovered by an examination of the public records. The Preliminary Title Report is an offer to insure under certain situations; the title policy is a contract that gives coverage against such problems.

The California Land Title Association (CLTA) is the standard policy of title insurance in California.

What Does CLTA Cover?

  • A forged signature on the deed
  • Mistakes in the interpretation of wills or other legal documents
  • Deeds delivered without the consent of the grantor
  • Deeds and mortgages signed by persons not of sound mind, by minors or by someone listed as single but who is, in fact, married
  • Impersonation of the real owner
  • Errors in copying or indexing
  • Falsification of records
  • Undisclosed or missing heirs
  • Recording mistakes

The Lender’s Policy Covers:

  • The priority of the insured mortgage
  • The invalidity or unenforceability of the insured assignment
  • The invalidity or unenforceability of the lien of the insured mortgage on the title
Property Taxes

The Tax Year

Property taxes are charged on a fiscal year beginning July 1st and ending June 30th; hence tax years are referred to as 2004/2005, 2005/2006. Taxes are billed in two equal installments: first installment covers July 1st through December 31st, second installment covers January 1st through June 30th.

Tax bills are sent to homeowners in the last week of October. Tax payments are due November 1st and February 1st; tax payments are delinquent on December 10th and April 10th.

How to Calculate Property Taxes

In most cases, the assessed valuation in your first year of ownership will be the same as the purchase price. It may be increased by up to 2% per year for each year you own the property. If you own and occupy a dwelling on March 1st as your principal place of residence, you are eligible to receive a reduction of up to $7,000 of the dwelling’s taxable value. To receive this exemption, you must file a claim with the Assessor. Once you receive the exemption, it is not necessary to file each year as long as you own and occupy the residence.

Mello-Roos Community Facility Districts

Mello-Roos districts are designated areas which have issued bonds for community facilities, for example, earthquake retrofitting of schools, and for which annual tax levies are collected as part of the property tax billing. There are two districts in San Francisco. One encompasses the entire City and the other is a small area South of Market. The cost for the Mello-Roos Community Facility Bonds in most parts of San Francisco is $32.10 for a single family residence.

Supplemental Taxes

Upon change of ownership, the Assessor’s Office will reappraise the property and will bill the new owners for any difference in taxes resulting from a higher assessed value. The Assessor will issue you a supplemental assessment bill which is prorated based on the number of months remaining in the fiscal year ending June 30th.

Can You Disagree with the Amount?

You may apply to the Assessor to see if that office will change the valuation. Additionally, Appeals Boards have been established for the purpose of resolving valuation problems. Appeals on regular assessments may be filed between July 2nd and September 15th. Appeals on corrected assessments, escaped assessments (those that did not take place when they should have), or supplemental assessments must be filed no later than 60 days from the mailing date of the revised tax bill. If you choose to appeal, pay your tax installments in full by the deadlines or you may incur penalties. If the appeal is granted, a refund will be issued to you.

Did You Recently Purchase A Property?

Escrow prorates taxes, but the actual taxes may not have been paid and you are responsible for any unpaid taxes at escrow closing. Read your escrow papers to determine if any portion of annual taxes were paid by the previous owner prior to closing.

The Tax Collector will not send a bill for the remainder of the year in which you acquired the property unless requested. If any taxes remain unpaid, call the Tax Collector and request a bill; have the Assessor’s Identification Number before calling.

Common Mistakes Buyers Make in Multiple-Offer Situations
  1. Not having your agent do a full comparative market analysis of the property: a clear-headed assessment of what fair market value is.
  2. Not making a list of the strengths and weaknesses of the property, to keep in mind during the negotiations or perhaps to even use in the negotiations.
  3. The flip side of #1 & #2: Getting too excited and making a purely emotional decision. When buyers see that other buyers want the property, the “value” of the property soars in their mind, which is why the highest prices always result from either multiple bidding or the fear that others will be making offers. A good listing agent does everything he or she can do to manipulate this fear. This is the flip side of why values decline after longer days on market: If someone else wants it, it’s very valuable; if no one else wants it, there must be something wrong with it and it can’t be so valuable.
  4. Not setting your walk-away price before getting starting with the negotiating. At some price point, the deal is no longer worth doing, no matter how great the property.
  5. In one’s urgency to make the deal, not including sufficient contingencies to perform thorough due diligence. I’ve seen homes that look perfect turn out to have $250,000 in pest damage; if one wrote the offer without the appropriate inspection and investigation contingencies, one might win the deal, but wake up to a house with very unpleasant surprises waiting.
  6. Having an agent that is more interested in making the deal (and collecting their commission) than making you the best deal; having an agent who doesn’t know the market values in the area; having an agent who doesn’t know how to negotiate (sadly common).
  7. Not learning as much as possible about the seller, the property and the listing agent as possible: needs, wants, circumstances, style of doing business
  8. Not making sure that there really are competitive offers, because sometimes the listing agent will blow smoke about “expecting multiple offers.” You can even have your agent write two (or more) offers at different price points, with clear instructions as to which one to submit depending on the final number of offers received by the listing agent.
  9. Throwing in the towel when told that the seller is only countering another offer(s). If you want the property and you’re willing to pay more, one can always throw in another offer during the seller’s counter offer process with others.
  10. Not asking for back-up position if you lose in the bidding. Sellers will often put a second buyer into back-up position at the same price or even a lesser price than the accepted offer. If the first deal blows up, then the back-up offer is immediately elevated into accepted position. Deals blow up all the time (probably about 10% – 15% of the time) for a wide number of reasons and one can find one is buying the house they wanted at an acceptable price after all. (Buyers in back-up typically have the option to cancel that position at any time, so they can continue to look for another home. It really is a no-lose proposition.)
Buyers Generally Pay…

Who pays for the various closing costs is negotiable between the Buyer and Seller, though the below sets forth the customary division in San Francisco County. These items might not apply in other counties. Some counties split their title and escrow fees between Buyer and Seller in varying manners.

  • Title Insurance Premiums
  • Escrow Fee
  • City Transfer/Conveyance Tax (according to contract)
  • Termite/Pest Inspection (according to contract)
  • Inspection Fees (for example, roof, property inspection,
  • geological)
  • Tax proration (from date of acquisition)
  • Homeowner’s Transfer Fee
  • All new loan charges (except those required by lender for
  • Seller to pay)
  • Interest on new loan from date of funding to 30 days prior
  • to first payment
  • Assumption/Change of Records Fees for takeover of
  • existing loan
  • Beneficiary Statement Fee for assumption of existing loan
  • Fire Insurance Premium for first year
  • Homeowners Insurance for first year
  • Earthquake Insurance (optional)
  • Private mortgage insurance (typically two months) if
  • required by lender
  • Private mortgage insurance impound account (1 year) if
  • required by lender
  • Property tax impound account if required by lender
  • Move-in fees (for condominiums)
  • Notary Fees and Recording Charges for all documents in
  • Buyer’s name
  • Courier Fees

Sellers Generally Pay…

  • Real Estate Commission
  • Document Preparation fee for Deed
  • Documents Transfer Tax ($1.10 per $1,000 of sales price)
  • City Transfer/Conveyance Tax (according to contract)
  • Any loan fees required by Buyer’s lender
  • Payoff of all loans in Sellers’ name (or existing loan balance
  • if being assumed by Buyer)
  • Interest accrued to lender being paid off
  • Statement fees, reconveyance fees and any loan
  • prepayment penalties
  • Pre-sale pest/termite inspection and work (according to
  • contract)
  • Third-party natural hazard disclosure statement
  • Underground storage tank report (as applicable)
  • Home warranty (according to contract)
  • Any judgements, tax liens, against the Seller and
  • Recording Charges to clear all documents of record
  • against Seller
  • Property tax proration (for any unpaid taxes up to time of
  • transfer of title)
  • Any unpaid Homeowner’s dues
  • Homeowner’s Association document fee
  • Any bonds or assessments (according to contract)
  • Any and all delinquent taxes
  • Move-out fees (for condominiums)
  • Notary fees and recording charges
  • Courier fees