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Want to Start a New Home Project? Here Are 5 Ideas

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Are you moving to a new home? Are you thinking about expanding your existing space? Or are you renovating a room you hardly ever use? If you answered any of these questions with a positive nod of the head, you may be gearing up to start a new home project.

But even the thought of initiating such a project can be highly stressful. From finding the proper supplies to hiring the right experts, you have your work cut out for you every step of the way.

With that being said, pulling off this feat is not entirely impossible. After learning about some critical information, you can easily start and complete a new home project with the utmost ease.

To support you through the seemingly stressful process, here are 5 ideas for a new home project.

Pay Attention to Curb Appeal

If you have enough funds for a new home project, investing some of them into enhancing your curb appeal would be a good idea. It not only gives your home a fresh new aesthetic but also goes a long way toward enhancing its value.

Investments such as stunning landscaping and fresh exterior paint can all do wonders in this aspect. Depending upon your budget and comfort, you can choose the level of upgrades you want to make in this regard. These changes can be as minimal or as extensive as you may like. But in all cases, you should make it a point to make them as noticeable as possible.

It’s because when these curb appeal enhancements stand out at first glance, they boast of multiple benefits. In addition to giving your home a more attractive look among many other units in your neighborhood, these improvements appeal to any potential buyers whenever you decide to sell your home.

Get Professionals to Help You Out

While the DIY approach can work in some cases, that is not always an ideal solution. For instance, if you try to lift your furniture by yourself, you can end up with significant injuries. Similarly, if you try to paint your home all alone, it can end up in a haphazard job.

That’s why hiring an affordable moving service or a professional house painter is a great idea in these cases. This also applies to other professionals, such as kitchen contractors and pool designers. Getting help from these experts may seem like a large expense at first. But it actually saves you a lot of funds in the long run.

For instance, if you end up damaging your property or furniture with DIY efforts, associated repair costs can often run twice the expense of the original project. Similarly, refining your DIY work for optimal quality can also cost a pretty penny. On the other hand, seasoned professionals steer clear of damaging activities while also bringing the utmost quality to the table.

Invest in High Quality Supplies

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Regardless of the type of project you are undertaking, always make it a point to go after high-quality supplies. From buying a premium kitchen pantry to investing in a new air conditioning unit, these investments deliver long-lasting performance and provide you with optimal value for money.

This ensures that you are able to get the most out of your investment while living in your home. At the same time, following these approaches in certain types of renovations also helps in increasing your home’s marketability. Whether you are investing in kitchen cabinets or bathroom countertops, this approach can work wonders in terms of bringing the desired aesthetic and
durability to your home’s fixtures.

With that being said, high-quality materials don’t always have to cost you an arm and a leg. You can obtain them from various vendors who sell their items at wholesale prices. In some cases, you can find these materials through the help of your hired contractors, who are able to source massive discounts through their industry contacts.

Secure Your Existing Belongings

Securing your existing belongings is one of the most basic points of home projects. But it often gets overlooked due to the general sense of fervor that surrounds renovation or moving plans. In turn, your home improvement may end up leaving scratches, paint marks, and lasting damage on your furniture and fixtures.

Whether you are repainting your living room or rebuilding your kitchen, get some protective supplies for your existing items. Even getting items as basic as a canvas drop cloth can go a long way in terms of protection. Whether you are worried about paint stains or wood chips, these precautionary measures do a great job at protecting your home and assets.

Securing your belongings does not ask much from you in terms of costs or expertise, but there are times where expert advice may help. With that being said, this is one of those instances where DIY efforts can actually work in an effective way. By watching YouTube tutorials or reading text posts online, you can know how to secure certain floors, walls, and fixtures during specific home projects.

Spruce It Up With Some Fresh Greenery

No matter the type of decor you are aiming for, investing in a few plants can always take it up a notch. From uber modern homes to a classic vintage aesthetic, this approach applies to all types of personal statements and styles. In many cases, simply buying a gardenia plant can elevate your surroundings in an instant.

Keeping this in mind, make it a point to invest in relevant plant life that goes in line with the look you need. From hanging plants to outdoor pots, you can choose from a variety of options that fit within your home project’s desired aesthetic and end result. In addition to adding another layer of visuals, it also lets you dress up bare walls or empty spaces that look out of place in an otherwise elaborate space.

If looking after these plants is a problem due to your schedule or lifestyle, you can choose plants that are low-maintenance but stand out as a prominent enhancement to any area. This allows you to get the most out of your efforts without having to go through extensive measures.

By exploring these suggestions, you can start your new home project with proper care and planning. Whether you are revamping your entryway or redoing your bathroom, these tips can ensure a smooth execution of the whole process.

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Buying Vacant Land

With vacant land, it is very important to thoroughly understand all that you are buying. Many buyers purchase vacant land with the plan to build their dream home. With that in mind, research plays an important role in ensuring that your lot has the capacity and potential to house your dream home and all your desired features.

Equipped with essential initial knowledge about a vacant lot, potential buyers can maximize their time during a showing to ask detailed and specific questions about each property.

If you do your research, you may be able to buy land in an area soon to experience growth or revitalization. Even if you opt not to build right away, you could see some appreciation in your investment within a relatively short amount of time.

When you are researching land for sale, you have the opportunity to select the perfect lot for your dream home. You may find land near a waterfront, with breathtaking views, or as far from civilization as you like. Once you locate the perfect spot, you can create and customize the home of your dreams.

Vacant land is less expensive than developed land. With such a low price tag, you’ll enjoy a lower interest rate and pay off the mortgage faster than a traditional home purchase might allow. From there, you can start construction on your dream home.

Vacant land has many benefits but also numerous caveats. Vacant land is always a safe, appreciable investment when you do the research and due diligence to determine the property’s value and potential.

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Red Flag Warnings

Is it time for you to walk away from your dream home ? Red flags can appear anytime during a house-hunting process and depending on the size of the problem, it may just mean you have to keep searching the MLS. Some slight problems or minor defects can be fixed, but some issues can seriously detract from your investment, and even endanger your health and safety.

Foundation Issues: If your home inspection report lists concerns with the integrity of your home’s foundation, don’t ignore them.  While all poured concrete foundations will crack at one time or another, hairline cracks are not an indication of a problem. If a crack is wider than 1/2 inch, however, it’s a good idea to have a foundation contractor examine the area. This also holds true for cracks that appear to have been recently patched. Large cracks can indicate an unstable foundation. Not all foundation issues are expensive to fix. However, major structural problems that require stabilization using hydraulic piers can cost a lot of money.

Electrical Issues: If a light switch does not work when you flip it, it’s probably just a minor electrical issue that can be fixed later. But, Outdated wiring or too little voltage is cause for concern. Not only will you not be able to hook up all your electronics and appliances, but problems with your electrical setup can also increase your risk for a home fire. Major electrical issues can end up being costly projects that require permits, professionals, and inspections to bring up to code. 

Roofing Issues: A complete roof teardown is a substantial investment, so it’s important to know how old the roof is, particularly important in areas of the country where there is a lot of snowfall since that can shorten the life span of a roof.  Besides the costs of replacement or repairs, leaky roofs can lead to other problems like mold, rot, and water damage. 

Mold: If water damage or mold is found in the home, consider it a red flag. In truth, most homes will have some mold in crawl spaces and attics, and not all mold is bad for your health. But, important: mold can mean there are other problems, like water leaks from the roof or major appliances, that could be costly to correct. It’s imperative that the source of the mold is found. Otherwise, the problem could worsen, and you could end up with a health hazard.

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A Realtor’s Fiduciary Duty

The National Association of Realtors indicates that fiduciary duties cover six distinct areas: loyalty, confidentiality, disclosure, obedience, reasonable care and diligence, and accounting. Some—but not all—of these duties are self-explanatory.

Loyalty means a Realtor must act in the best interest of his clients, including placing their client interests above their own. So, for example, if an agent is interested in buying a house that he knows is perfect for one of his clients, he must give the client priority and refrain from making an offer unless and until the client rejects the house.

Confidentiality means Realtors must safeguard their clients’ secrets. Agents often know the lowest price that a seller-client will take, for example, but the agent must keep it a secret. Likewise, if a seller must sell due to an emergency, the agent may not reveal the seller’s distress. Buyer’s agents must also keep their client’s secrets. For example, the highest price that a buyer is willing to pay and that the buyer loves a given house are secrets.

Disclosure means that the Realtor is required to disclose affirmatively all information concerning the transaction as well as the property which might affect the decisions a principal makes, informing the principal what the Realtor knows.

Obedience requires an agent to carry out his client’s legal wishes. No agent is ever obligated to violate the law. In fact, the law calls for fair and honest dealing, no matter whom the agent represents. So if a seller tells an agent to lie about a leaking roof, he is under no obligation to do so. However, if a seller tells her agent to list a house at a given price, the agent must obey. If the price is unreasonable, the agent should encourage the seller to reconsider the price or do as the seller asks, but the agent cannot list it at a different price.

Realtors are obligated to use reasonable care and diligence in pursuing the principal’s affairs. The standard of care expected of a real estate broker representing a seller or buyer is that of a competent real estate professional. By reason of his license, a Realtor is deemed to have skill and expertise in real estate matters superior to that of the average person. As an agent representing others in their real estate dealings, a broker or salesperson is under a duty to use his superior skill and knowledge while pursuing his principal’s affairs. This duty includes an obligation to affirmatively discover facts relating to his principal’s affairs that a reasonable and prudent real estate broker would be expected to investigate. Simply put, this is the same duty any professional, such as a doctor or lawyer, owes to his patient or client.

The duty of accounting means that the agent must account for money and property entrusted to her. Agents must give escrow funds to their brokers or to the client’s attorney who will keep it in an escrow fund. Listing agents must keep track of showings so that they have a record of who has come and gone. They must also ensure that a listed house is secure, either by signing out keys to other licensed agents and accounting for their whereabouts or by hanging a lockbox on the property.

The Bottom Line: Fiduciary abuse is against the law and can leave an agent open to a lawsuit, and it destroys the professional and ethical standing of the real estate agent. As a Realtor, you should always be aware of your fiduciary duties to your clients. It’s a major responsibility and upholding these duties is crucial to developing a strong reputation.

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Selling & Buying a Home in a Buyer’s Market

Today in the United States, home sales are on the rise as mortgage interest rates remain low. Buyers are looking to take advantage of low-interest rates and sellers are looking to get top-dollar for their home in the low inventory, competitive market.   Is it a buyer or seller’s market?

When the supply of homes exceeds the demand it’s a buyer’s market. The inventory of homes listed for sale is large but there aren’t many interested buyers looking. These conditions give buyers leverage over sellers because when supply is higher and demand lower, the market is forced to respond.

In a buyer’s market, real estate prices decrease, and homes linger on the market longer. Because of this, sellers will need to compete with each other in order to attract buyers. What typically happens is sellers drop their asking prices to gain an advantage in the market and they are ready to negotiate offers to prevent buyers from walking away. A buyer’s market does not mean your house won’t sell. Hire an experienced Realtor to help you get your home ready to show and to price it right to sell.

A few tips for buying a home in a buyers market knowing that it’s the ideal time to buy your dream home because the prices are lower and there are less people to compete with shopping the market:

Don’t rush. This is when you can take your time because with less competition it’s not as much of a concern that you might miss out on a property you like.

Have your Realtor show you as many homes for sale as possible. Knowing what is available on the market is favorable because it will not only ensure that you find the perfect home but give you a greater ability to negotiate on price.

A good Realtor will make sure you are familiar with all the comparable properties on the market and this will help in negotiating the price. Use the comps to your advantage.

Know how long a home has been on the market. The longer it has been available the more power you will have to negotiate for a lower price.

A few tips for selling your home in a buyers market:

Make your home stand out. Take advice from an experienced Realtor on what should be done to accomplish this.

There are more properties out there when it’s a buyer’s market and they will be pickier. If your home needs repairs it’s in your best interest to get them fixed.

Clean and depersonalize each room. If buyers can’t envision themselves living in your home, they won’t make offers. Get rid of any clutter, hire a professional cleaning service and touch up your landscaping to prepare to put your home on the market. Pull out any family photos, papers, souvenirs, or anything else that makes it “your” home.

Find the Realtor that will price your home competitively. Look at all the listings in your area and see what they are offering. Make sure your asking price is either on par with or lower than the comparable homes in your area. And when you do get an offer, make sure that you judge it fairly.

A buyer’s market is the most ideal time to buy a home. You will have the advantage as a buyer. Not only are there more homes to choose from, but you have the power in most negotiations. The ability to walk away from a sale knowing there are probably comparable homes on the market gives you the power. Sellers are more likely to make concessions, drop prices and accept less favorable offers.

If your plans are to buy or sell a home soon, align yourself with a trustworthy Realtor. They are well-versed in market trends and can answer questions you may have throughout the buying or selling process.

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Title Insurance

No one gives much thought to the importance of title insurance. Something that can protect owners of real property events and matters that can be brought up form the past. But what happens when an old title issue surfaces and a claim is made on a policy? Many homeowners decline title insurance but once they know how it is created to protect them from unknown claims against their property that can pop up years down the road.

Title insurance is much more than a lender requirement. It’s knowing that what you are buying is free of any third party claims to ownership or use of any part of it. It assures the homeowner that they are clear of anything that would affect the ability to sell or borrow against their new property.  After thousands of real estate closings here at Title First, we can give you a rundown of the most common issues we can save you from:

Mistakes on titles, especially lately, that are transferred through a sale of foreclosure without certain rulings met, thus making the transfer of the title invalid.

Mistakes within all the paperwork brought to a closing. Somewhere along the line, there may be a forged signature or recorded documents that have been signed by people without legal authority.

Mistakes made during the probate process for the previous owner that overlooked someone else’s rightful claim (undisclosed heirs) to the property of someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.

Mistakes made in the description of the property.

Mistakes made where claims, tax information, or easements have not been recorded properly in the public record.

Mistakes missed of liens on the property or judgments against the previous owner.

Mistakes in unpaid taxes or mortgages and unpaid debts.

Investors need to be alert when protecting their investments. Title insurance assures the homeowner that the title to the property purchased is free of any defects and is “clear to close”. It is a guarantee that all matters of record that could harm the title of the new property have been disclosed and resolved. Title insurance protects the homeowner against any potential claims should an undisclosed event threaten the ownership of the property. Give us a call today at Title First Agency: 1-866-320-8400

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Pros and Cons of a Cash Offer

The pros

Faster Closing

During a typical home sale, it averages about four weeks to close. If you’re buying in cash without a lender the closing can happen within as little as a week.

No Contingencies

Mortgages can fall through for buyers that are preapproved. When you pay in cash, you eliminate that possibility. Presenting a cash offer removes the need for a financing contingency which is usually a requirement in a real estate transaction where the buyer is using bank financing. Depending on market conditions, the buyer may present a lower offer than what other bidders with financing are offering the seller. The seller may be willing to accept a lower purchase price in exchange for being able to close a deal quickly.

You Own Your Home

Bottom line, if you’ve got a mortgage, you don’t actually own your house — the bank does. When you buy a house in cash, you can feel secure knowing that no one can take that house away from you, and big, unexpected problems like a job loss won’t leave you without a roof over your head.

The cons

Tying Up Your Funds

If you spend your life savings buying a house in cash, you’ll tie up all your money in one large investment. The money you use to buy your house isn’t liquid (meaning you don’t have direct access to the cash, and you’d have to sell your home to get your hands on it), so if you need your money for any other reason, it won’t be readily available. Additionally, you may face a shortage of cash that could have been used to invest in other lucrative assets. Taking some of the cash you use to pay for a home and investing it instead, could possibly make you more money in the long run.

No Tax Deductions

A buyer that uses a mortgage to purchase a real estate property enjoys tax breaks on the mortgage interest payments. When a buyer decides to purchase a home using cash only, they miss out on the tax deductions that they would’ve enjoyed if they used mortgage financing to complete the transaction.

Extra Title Protection

Reviewing the title for any other claims, liens, or issues that could prevent you from taking full ownership is all part of the home-buying process. The title research takes place whether you pay in cash or get a mortgage, and it’s always smart to get title insurance on your investment, which will protect you in the event that the title research missed any claims.

When you get a mortgage to buy your house, there’s another entity interested in making sure the title is clear and that you stay in the house and keep paying your mortgage: the mortgage lender. Your lender will secure title insurance, too, so that if there is a claim filed at some point, you’ll have an additional layer of protection that a cash buyer wouldn’t have.

The Bottom Line:

It’s scary to spend your entire nest egg in one place. If you can pay cash for a house and still have money left over for emergencies, home repairs, and other unexpected things that come your way, paying in cash is probably a great financial move. On the other hand, if paying cash for a house completely wipes you out, you might want to reconsider.

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Real Estate and Social Media

It’s critically important, whether you’re working with an agent or selling your home on your own, to market it online. Especially now, during the COVID pandemic where there are limits on visiting homes. Using the MLS will get you the most exposure but you must put your best foot forward. Find the best Realtor and interview her to see how she will take advantage of all the opportunities to get your home in front of people. A good Realtor will have access to the best indoor photographers and understand that photos are more important than ever and they must be showcased on all social media platforms. Most American adults are online. More than 1 billion people in the entire world log in to Facebook on any given day. The potential to reach a huge number of people is exceptional.

On the subject of photographs:  The very best Realtor will help you to stage and prepare your home for professional pictures. All rooms should be clear of any clutter. The pictures MLS displays are usually grainy and of poor quality. Homebuyers more times than not, begin the search for their new home online. Take advantage of this. Stand in the doorway to rooms and snap the photo shooting into the room.  There are never too many photos!

Facebook business page:  Now those beautiful photos need to be posted and announced, showcased, and marketed. The Realtor your choose should have a strong Facebook page with a good following of people. The posts should be shared, linked, and even made into an ad. They should know how to target the ad and pinpoint people by location, interests, behaviors, age, and more. Realtors might even host open houses via Facebook LIVE and interact with people that are watching.

Instagram:  The world’s largest photo-sharing platform is the perfect place to showcase the photos taken of the home.  Instagram Stories are gaining in popularity and selling homes. A powerful and fun way to get information out. The great thing about Instagram Stories is that they are automatically featured at the top of a user’s homepage. The poster can expect their story to generate more exposure than a post in this case.  

The Bottom Line: Everyone wants a Realtor that can be trusted and will do everything she can to get the most money for a home in the least amount of time. The Realtor is the homeowner’s advocate. The marketing of the home should be exceptional.  Beyond using the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) there should be professional pictures to use on websites and every social media platform available.

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Buying A New Construction Home

Purchasing a new construction home is an exciting process as you watch your dream home come to life. There is nothing like the “new ” smell once you move in. If you’re considering purchasing new construction, here are a few tips that you should keep in mind.

Hire the best local real estate agent who will best represent you and your interests during your home search and the home building process. Be sure that it’s someone who has experience in new construction and regularly deals with builders, but isn’t affiliated with the builder. Find a trusted agent even before visiting a builder’s home construction site. Many model homes are represented by a real estate agent who has a relationship with the builder, and many builders won’t allow you to hire your own agent once you already visited their sales office without representation. Seeking the help of a knowledgeable professional who regularly deals with builders and knows the local community will save you time and money. Besides, it will cost you nothing as a buyer to be represented by an agent since it is typically the seller who pays for the commission. Many builders are also happy to work with agents.

Do your research on the builders. Search for online reviews, testimonials, and any news and updates you can find. Then check for the validity and trends in those reviews, since many builders will surely have a history of both happy and unhappy clients. If possible, also talk to local homeowners or current residents. Connect with them in online groups or communities through social media to better educate yourself before making a decision. Also research on the location and the community where the new construction is being built where you can learn about your potential neighbors as well. Ask your Realtor if they’ve worked with the builder before and gain insights about their reputation.

It’s normal to be fascinated by that picture-perfect model home, but don’t let it blind you. Model homes are, of course, decorated to look desirable and striking. They have been furnished and staged so that rooms will appear bigger. Model homes were often constructed using a mix of standard materials and fixtures and include many upgrades which don’t necessarily represent what you can get, so it’s crucial to note what exactly you will be getting. Enlist the help of your agent to get a list of the standard features and common upgrades, together with their associated costs.

Most builders are reluctant to lower their prices because it may set a precedent for future buyers in the development who may expect similar discounts. The best way to negotiate with a builder is through upgrades. Consider asking for the builder to negotiate “on the back end,” such as paying for closing costs and performing upgrades at no additional charge. This is the less obvious way for builders to sweeten the deal while still maintaining the value of their neighborhood. With the help of your agent, research the builder’s negotiating style so that you can plan for an effective way to make a creative offer.

Consider other sources where you can find a lender who will offer you the best deal. Don’t automatically use the builder’s own lender without shopping around for better options. Builders often have their preferred lender so that they can be fully informed of your personal progress as a borrower. However, they may not work with your best interests in mind. Your agent can also help you by referring a trusted list of private lenders.

For some instances where the builder’s preferred lender is the only option, find out if there are incentives, special offers, or competitive rates available to you if you agree to use the builder’s own lender. In some situations, it can be a cost-efficient option since they are often willing to offer competitive rates and terms, especially if the builder owns the lending company.

Get an inspection! New homes can have problems or defects since construction workers can make mistakes as well. There may be problems with the HVAC or plumbing installation that only a licensed home inspector can detect. Getting an independent inspection is always a good idea since any problems can be identified before a builder’s warranty expires. It will also help you learn more about the home. A home inspection will guarantee that everything is safe and up to code.

Even if you are working with a respectable builder, make sure that everything you have negotiated and agreed upon will be included in writing. They may honor your requests, but verbal conversations are not binding so they may forget about the promises they made to you. Make sure that everything important will be put in binding documents that must be signed by all parties. It’s especially crucial if you are buying a home that is not yet complete. Your experienced real estate agent can help you ensure everything is in writing and that all documents are properly signed.

Lastly: ask about warranties. Find out what is and isn’t covered and for how long, since not all warranties are created equal. Most builders use third-party warranties that cover materials and workmanship. Builders often use construction materials from different manufacturers or suppliers, like for windows or tiles, so those products may have separate warranties. There’s a great chance the builder might refer all issues to the manufacturers instead of handling the issues directly. Get the builder to specify each product’s warranty information so you can prepare your offer documents to address any concerns before closing. Warranties will also help you understand the process you need to follow once something needs to be fixed.

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Pre-Foreclosure Homes

If you are looking for an affordable home, you may come across “pre-foreclosure” homes and wonder if they are worth looking into. When you browse through real estate listings, you will see that there are plenty of pre-foreclosure listings. But is buying one something you should do?

Pre-foreclosure is the first stage in the foreclosure process. It begins when a Notice of Default (non-judicial states) or Lis Pendens (judicial states) has been filed against the homeowner. Foreclosing on a property can be a lengthy process. Homeowners are first served a notice of default notifying them of the bank’s intentions to begin foreclosure proceedings. They still have the opportunity to make it right by catching up on their payments.

Many times, the home is listed on Zillow (or other real estate sites) and the owner is not even aware of it. There will be a Google street-view image of the home, the address, details of the property, and occasionally inaccurate information. The homeowner is not allowed to opt-out of having their home publicly listed, which can cause some embarrassment for them.

Pre-foreclosures are not a done deal. While they appear to be a fantastic deal on paper, nine times out of ten there really isn’t a deal to be had. In many cases, borrowers fall a month or two on their mortgage payments and then quickly catch up. Under pressure from the government, lenders are more willing to work with delinquent borrowers than they were just a few years ago, which explains why foreclosures are at all-time low in many parts of the country. In general, pre-foreclosures fall into two categories. Homes with 90-day late notices are usually resolved before foreclosure and hardly worth a buyer’s time. Pre-foreclosures with an auction date set are much more likely to sell before the foreclosure becomes official, but even then a sale is not guaranteed.

The pre-foreclosed home is not actively listed for sale. The owner has not taken steps to list the home for sale. The transaction is dependent upon the buyer identifying a homeowner in a mortgage default list and persuading him to sell. Many homeowners will be pursuing options to cure the default and will not negotiate. As such, it is better for most buyers to assume that a pre-foreclosure home is not for sale and seek viable alternatives with help from his real estate agent.

The Bottom Line: Buying a pre-foreclosure home is an opportunity to less than what the market would list. The competition is less than if you would have bought a foreclosed home at auction. Before you look for a pre-foreclosure home, it’s important to research the distressed property laws in your state. There’s a reason that most buyers of pre-foreclosure homes are seasoned investors, not first-time homebuyers. The process is not easy to navigate. It helps to have a lot of cash on hand and plenty of negotiating savvy.

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