Real Estate Information Archive


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What's Involved in a Closing

by Joe Klarman

So after months of searching, you’ve finally found your dream home! Congratulations! However, it’s not over just yet – don’t expect to be able to just write a check and call it a day. There are still a lot of things to do before you can close on your dream home. The following are the steps that are involved with closing on a new house:

  • The offer – The first step is obviously to make an offer to the seller. Once you’ve decided on a house, it’s best if you move as quickly as possible. You don’t want another buyer to beat you to the punch. There’s no guarantee that the seller will accept your offer, but it’s usually a good rule of thumb to offer around 8 to 10 percent below what the seller is asking for. This will provide you with a little bit of negotiation room. Just don’t go over what you budgeted for, no matter how much you love the house!
  • The deposit – When you make an offer, you should provide a deposit of around 1 percent of the purchase price. The seller’s lawyer or real estate agent will hold that money until it is closed. If your offer isn’t accepted, the deposit will be returned. If it is, the deposit will go towards your down payment.
  • Meet the contingencies – The contract will typically have a number of contingencies that you will have to meet before you can close. These often include obtaining an acceptable house inspection as well as securing your financing. You’ll usually have 10 to 14 days from the time you accept the contract to get an inspection and 30 days to secure financing.
  • Get a home inspection – You’ll want a professional inspector to take a look at the mechanical and structural condition of the house. You don’t want to buy a house that might have a bunch of expensive issues, after all.
  • Signing the contract – The contract is a legally binding obligation to purchase the property as long as the contingencies are met. It contains the final selling price, the date of closing, the property's description, the possession date and any other contingencies that are applicable.
  • The settlement sheet – This document is required by the Department of Housing and Urban development and includes all the financial information concerning the purchase of the house. A copy of the settlement sheet must be given to both the buyer and the seller.
  • The closing documents – Once the contract and settlement sheet have been drawn up and signed, you’ll still need to complete some paperwork. This includes a title search, the title insurance and an application for your homeowner’s insurance, which is required for obtaining your mortgage.
  • Closing costs – Don’t forget that you’ll have to pay a number of closing costs, which include the appraisal fee, a loan origination fee, a inspection fee, a credit report fee, your mortgage broker's fee, the cost of your title insurance, taxes and the document preparation fee.​
  • The settlement – The settlement is the final step of the closing process. It describes how much you owe on the property after the down payment as well as the transfer of the title on the date agreed upon.

These are the steps that you’ll have to take in order to close on your dream home. Remember, you’ll also have to make some practical arrangements, such as setting up your utility service and making your first mortgage payment. Once all of this is done, you’ll finally be able to move into your new home!


Things Not to do When Buying a House

by Joe Klarman

Deciding to buy a house is a huge decision to make. Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibilities that you have to make sure that you are prepared for. The process of becoming a homeowner can be a long and sometimes difficult one as well, which means you’ll want to prepare yourself mentally for that possibility. There are a lot of steps to take when you first decide to buy a home. However, there are also a lot of mistakes that you can make during this period as well. The following are a few things that you should avoid doing when buying a house:

  • Over using your credit – Your credit score is very important in obtaining a mortgage with good terms. Bad credit can lead to lenders hiking up the interest rate or disqualifying you altogether – so stop using those credit cards and begin paying down your debt! Don’t even put small items on your credit cards if it’s possible not to as this can affect your debt-to-income ratio. If anything, you should begin paying down your credit card debt in order to help improve your score.
  • Pay your bills late – Late payments can really hurt your credit score. Paying one bill 30 or more days late can hurt your score by as much as 110 points! This may not be too big of a deal if you still have a score hovering around 800 – but if the late payment was on rent or a mortgage, the lender is going to think twice about qualifying you. If you can’t pay your rent on time, how do they know you’ll pay your new mortgage on time? And if you were late on a previous mortgage – well, that’s a huge red flag.
  • Moving money around – In addition to looking at your credit, lenders will also take a look at your bank statements. They want to make sure that you’ll be able to pay for a deposit. Some people will borrow money from family for the deposit and put it in their bank account. While this is perfectly fine, you should do this months in advance. Lenders will frown upon any major deposits or withdrawals – especially if you don’t have a paper trail to account for them.
  • Co-signing on a loan – Financial experts never recommend co-signing on a loan, no matter what the situation is. If you co-sign on a loan for a friend or family member, it could end up straining your relationship with them if things don’t work out. If the person you are co-signing for stops making payments on the loan, then you are responsible for that debt. Not only can that leave you in a poor financial situation, it could destroy your credit. Lenders will also consider that as another monthly obligation – even if the person you co-signed for is incredibly responsible and pays all of his or her payments on time. It’s going to hurt your debt-to-income ratio and assets no matter what.
  • Employment changes – When lenders look at your background, they want to see financial stability. If you’ve just lost your job or even if you are just starting your own business, they are more likely to disqualify you. In fact, if you get a promotion but a portion of your income gets shifted to a commission basis, it could hurt you!

These are a few things that you should avoid doing before buying a house. Be sure to obtain a credit report so that you know what your credit score and history are as well.


The Importance of Staing Your Home

by Joe Klarman

When selling a home, one thing that can't be stressed enough is the importance of staging. You may think staging your home really isn't all that important; however, it can make the difference between selling your home quickly and having it linger on the market. Here are some advantages of staging you may not have thought about before, but are nonetheless important.

Provides a Good First Impression

Your home's first impression is important, as potential buyers are likely to form an opinion of it right away. If your home is clean and uncluttered, chances are others will think it has been well cared for, making it more likely they will be interested in it.

Makes rooms appear larger

One thing that will turn people off is the feeling that your rooms are not as big as they should be. Even if you have large rooms, it may not appear that you do if you have too much furniture or other belongings. Too much stuff makes your rooms appear crowded, and might not allow traffic to flow in and out of them smoothly. Staging rooms makes them appear larger, and provides a light and airy feeling that naturally attracts people to them.

Helps homes sell faster

Those who stage their homes tend to sell quicker than those who do not. According to Restyle Staging, homes that are not staged tend to stay on the market up to four times longer than those that are not staged. This is a problem because the longer your home is on the market, the less likely you are to obtain a good price for it. Staging also helps your home look better in pictures, which is important because most buyers narrow down their search by viewing photographs online. If your home doesn't photograph well, chances are that people won't even ask to see it in the first place.

Maximizing Closet Space

Your rooms aren't the only thing that requires staging, as your closets do as well. Fox News recommends having between 20 and 30 percent open space inside all your closets, as this will help them appear more spacious. Closets ( and storage space in general) is one thing that is non-negotiable for many people, which is why you should make the extra effort to ensure your closets are properly staged.

Enhances your Home's Potential

People are unlikely to envision what your home could look like, but instead are apt to see it the way it appears. This is one reason why professional staging is advantageous, because it allows you to maximize your home's potential, thereby changing the way others view it. If you have some unique architectural features to show off or want to emphasize how versatile certain areas are, professional staging can help you accomplish this with ease.

Draws and Keeps Attention

Not only can professional staging emphasize your home's unique features, but it may also pique their interest and entice them to see more. Carefully placed artwork can draw the eye toward the top of your stairs or a nook underneath them and encourage people to take a second look. Likewise, some fluffy pillows along a window seat or an afghan draped across a porch swing can also make people want to view more.

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to consider staging your home. In the long run, your efforts will pay off by allowing you to sell your home sooner and for more money than you imagined possible.

10 Credit Truths

by Joe Klarman

When it comes to learning about your credit, there’s a lot of false information out there. The following are 10 credit truths that will help you understand credit better:

  1. Paying down your debts won’t instantly make your credit perfect – Paying off your debt will certainly help improve your score. However, your credit report doesn’t just show your present financial situation. It’s a snapshot of your credit history, which means that if you have any blemishes on your credit history, they’ll show up on your report.
  2. Canceling your credit cards won’t boost your score –Your credit score is affected by your credit utilization. Say you have two credit cards, both with $500 in credit available. If one credit card is maxed out, then you are using $500 out of $1000 in credit. That’s 50 percent of your available credit. If you close out the card with nothing on it, you are using $500 out of $500 – that’s 100 percent! You can actually hurt your score by closing your credit card.
  3. Just because you pay your bills on time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at your credit score – Paying your bills on time is a good way to improve your score. However, you’ll want to know what your credit score is and make sure that there aren’t any mistakes on your report since these can affect your score negatively.
  4. Checking on your credit score won’t hurt it – When companies check your score, it can hurt it slightly. However, when you check it yourself, no damage will be done to it. You can check your score as much as you like, although you may have to pay for it since you only have free access once a year.
  5. Credit reports aren’t always accurate – Credit reports can have mistakes on them. Make sure to report any mistakes you find to help improve your score.
  6. You can pay someone to help fix your score – You can pay companies to go through your credit report in order to spot any mistakes. They can’t make any blemishes go away magically, but they can help with errors.
  7. Good credit can be affected by the amount of money in your bank – This is true to an extent. If you over draft because you didn’t have enough money in your bank, it can hurt your credit score.
  8. Too many credit cards can hurt your score – Every time you apply for a new credit card, it will hurt your score a little bit, which means you don’t want to do it too much. Some lenders will also be wary they see you have 7 credit cards.
  9. All three of your credit scores will be similar – Although they can differ slightly, for the most part they will be similar.
  10. Paying with cash can sometimes help your credit score – This is true if it keeps you from maxing out your credit cards.

Be sure to keep these 10 credit truths in mind.

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Contact Information

Russell Jones Real Estate
536 Broadway East
Seattle WA 98102
Office: (206)323-0800
Direct: (206)683-5639
Fax: (206)323-9275