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November/December, 2000 Newsletter


+++++++++++ December 5, 2000 +++++++++++++++++++
CONTENTS: Introduction
Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Soften
This Month's Tip: Building a Winning Team
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Introduction
Welcome to the Nov/Dec edition of the Home Buyer's Information Newsletter. A number of factors, including the Presidential election and the approaching holiday season among them, have combined to slow activity in the Real Estate market in the last month. We've noticed a perceptible decrease in activity, both among buyers as well as the number of new listings hitting the market. Although a favorable interest rate environment may help with a recovery, it may be until after the first of next year until we see more movement in the market. In addition, it appears that the economy is heading toward a slowdown after the longest economic expansion in history. As we have said in these newsletters and on the web site for over 18 months, it is never a good idea to "overbuy" when you purchase a home because of the distinct possibility that things will not remain as they are now. Better to have a bit less home and be able to comfortably afford it than to stretch yourself to the limit and run the risk of finding yourself in a painful payment crunch!
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Mortgage Rate Update: Rates Soften Overall, mortgage rates have softened a bit in the last six weeks or so, with 30 year fixed rates now averaging in the 7.35% range, more evidence of a slowing economy. Although there may be some further lowering of long term rates, we've seen no evidence that a large decrease is in the cards. For more information on mortgages, visit the Mortgage Section at:
Mortgage Information
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Recent Site Updates: You can always find out "Whats New" at the Home Buyer's Information Center at the following location:
Site Updates
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Sponsor: LendingTree

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This Month's Tip: Building a Winning Team
Buying a home is never a solitary activity. Even if you try to buy without the assistance of an Agent, even if you pay the full purchase price in cash, you will still need a team of at least a Home Inspector and a Closing Agent or Attorney. If, however, you are like the vast majority of buyers, you will also be using the services of a Real Estate Agent and a Mortgage Lender. As with most teams, the stronger the individual "players" are, the more success you will enjoy, so choosing the individuals who will make up your team is an important activity.

REAL ESTATE AGENTS
Probably the most important team member--and the one that will have the most effect--is your Agent. Not only will the Agent be your conduit to available properties and your aide in negotiation, they can also co-ordinate the activites of other team members such as the home inspector and the closing or settlement agent. A good Agent can be worth their weight in gold, but a bad Agent can create more problems than they solve. If this is not your first home purchase, you may consider attempting the transaction on your own, but for first time buyers it is highly recommended by most experts that you find a capable Agent and use them fully. Not only will you have access to many more properties (those who do it "on their own" are limited to those homes for sale by owner--generally less than 20% of the market) you'll have someown who can help guide you in the right direction. In the vast majority of cases, the cost to you will be nothing--since you will be looking at homes listed by other Agents, the commission is paid by the seller of the property you buy. With an effective Agent, it is not a bad price to pay (nothing) for someone who can assist you at almost every step of the transaction, especially in selection of properties and negotiation of selling prices. Some Tips on Selecting an Agent: * Choose someone who is very familiar with the housing areas (both location and price) in which you are interested. * Concentrate on Agents who do a large percentage of their business with buyers, rather than sellers.
More information on the site:
Finding and choosing an Agent

MORTGAGE LENDERS

Your satisfaction (or your aggravation) in the whole process of buying a home has a great deal to do with your relationship with your lender. If the application, processing and underwriting (the final approval) go smoothly, it can be a wonderful and exciting process. Hit some snags and bumps in the road, though, and it can quickly become a stressfull nighmare! Whether you handle the mortgage process online or offline, there are a few qualities that make the lender a strong and effective member of your team: * Up-to-date on the latest programs and rates * Easy to contact * Busy enough to be sucessful but not too busy to keep in touch with you * On top of their game-plan: Quick to answer questions and handle problems You can help your lender be effective if you quickly follow up on the items and documentation they will need--pay stubs, letters, verifications and the such. The best mortgage lender in the world can't be an asset if they don't have the tools they need from you.
More information on the site:
Mortgage hints and tips

HOME INSPECTORS

The right home inspector can save you from buying a defective house, point out potential problems in the future and even give you valuable maintenance hints. The wrong home inspector can make your life miserage, let alone cost you a bundle of money. Don't be cheap: A $250 inspection that looks at 40 components of a house is a much better value than a $195 one that inspects only 10 items. Don't let an amateur handle it: A "friend of a friend who used to be a contractor" is probably an awful choice. Hire a professional home inspector. Look for experience: An inspector that does 200 inspections a year just naturally is more experienced than one who does 25. They've seen more variables. Ask for certifications: A home inspector should be affiliated with a professional organization such as ASHI (The American Society of Home Inspectors). If you are using a contractor (be careful that they are not inspecting to find themselves contracting work) they should be Class A (or its equivalent) certified.
More information on the site:
Choosing a professional home inspector

CLOSING AGENTS

Closing and settlement procedures will vary a good deal, depending on what is customary in your area. You'll find that even the terminology will differ--in some areas the procedure of finalizing a home purchase is a closing, in others, settlement and in others, escrow. In some states in the U.S., closings must be handled by Attornies while in other areas, title companies handle the transaction. No matter what it is called or what specifics are required, the closing agent is the last (and extremely important) member of the team. Sometimes it seems as though all closings have snafus and delays, but an ineffective closing agent can create a real quagmire for a buyer, severly delaying or even torpedoing a closing. Get good, solid information before you choose a closing agent. A couple of sources for recommendations for a closing agent would be friends and relatives who have recently closed on a home, as well as your Real Estate Agent, who will likely have a list of several closing agents in the area.

SUMMING UP
The little time you may spend evaluating and choosing the members of your team can save you an enormous amount of time, and, perhaps, a considerable amount of money. Many of the mistakes made when buying a home can be directly attributed to bad choices in the selection of those who can give you assitance.

As always, if you have suggestions for improving the site, or topics you would like to see addressed in this newsletter (or, if you have used the Home Buyer's Information Center to successfully purchase a home), drop us a quick line at or access our feedback page at:
HomeBuyers Information Center Feedback

A special thanks to all those who have written to let us know that they have found the Home Buyer's Information Center a helpful resource in their buying process. Have a great (and safe) Holiday Season! The Team at the Home Buyer's Information Center

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