How To Rock Your Request For Repairs

A typical Residential Purchase Agreement contains an inspection contingency that allows for the buyer to inspect the property, review the reports and present a request for repairs to the seller. If the buyer is unsatisfied with the agreed upon repair list he or she can choose to cancel the deal and have their deposit returned. A request for repairs may ask for a detailed list of work to be done and/or a credit amount to cover the cost of the repairs.

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While some buyers feel that opting to waive the inspection contingency will give them a better at getting their offer accepted, we always advise buyers to opt to have the property inspected. While general home inspections cost several hundred dollars and are paid by the buyer, they could save the buyer a large amount of money in the long run. It also helps to educate you on the overall condition of your home and the condition of its systems.

Your home inspection will inevitably point out some problems with the property – no matter if it is brand new or 25 years old. Your home inspector will check that the main appliances and main systems (plumbing, heating, electrical, etc) are safe and operational. They will also check to see if there are any health and safety issues that might be a problem with the specific property. Pending the results, the general inspector will recommend additional inspections from a specialist (such as a roofing or foundation expert) and/or a list of necessary repairs. Most home inspectors have years of experience and should be able to identify what is problematic and needs to be addressed immediately, as well as what will need maintenance in the near future.

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At this point, you will need to generate a list of requested repairs or credits to present to the seller. This part of the escrow process requires negotiation and strong communication between both the agents and their respective parties. Thus, when deciding what issues or problems to put on your list it is helpful to consider how the seller might react – while you may feel that you are entitled to put everything the inspector recommends replacing, this is a key example of “picking your battles”. You may an extensive list, but it is best to get the list down to the most crucial items and be willing to let the minor things go.

Generally, it is a good idea to stick to health and safety items, as well as any damage that could adversely affect the structural integrity of the home over time. A few items of real concern are: cracks in the chimney, foundation cracks or a damaged roof.

As a buyer, you should be absolutely be persistent on ensuring that your future home is up to par, but you should prepared to take on some of the responsibility of the repairs. After all, you do not want to the deal to fall apart or get drawn out because you cannot come to an agreement as to which party will fix a few cracked floor tiles.

The best way to ensure that you get the most from the seller is to present estimates of the actual cost from contractors. While this may require more effort on your end, doing this gives the seller concrete proof of the price work that needs to be done and gives them little wiggle room.

Another thing to keep in mind when crafting your request list is the sale price of the home. If you were able to secure the home way below asking price, you should consider being a bit more lenient on your list. If you paid full price, you will have more wiggle room to include more requests, but remember that it is very rare to have the seller agree to all the requests right off the bat.

Most importantly, lean heavily on your agent during this whole experience! Remember, we are negotiation specialists and have gone through this process many times. We know the importance of being flexible, but also when to stick to our guns and fight for our clients and their wants. In the end, our job is to ensure that you get the best deal and that you feel 100% confident moving forward with closing on your new home!

A Reflection on Home Inspection ;)

By: Cathy Strini

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Having your purchase offer accepted is one of the more exciting moments in the home-buying process, especially if it has come after an exhausting search! However, it is important to remember that this is not the end of the whole process, but rather the beginning of the escrow period .. which generally lasts another 30-45 days.

Escrow is  defined as a deposit of funds, a deed or other instrument by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event. Basically the escrow period ensures that no monetary funds, or the property itself, changes hands before all the instructions detailed in the contract are met. When all the conditions are met, the escrow is “closed” and the deal is complete. (Celebration time!)

One condition that must be satisfied before closing escrow is the home inspection contingency. *Note: when drafting your purchase offer, you may choose to waive this provision, forfeiting your right to conduct inspections.* This contingency states that if a home inspection reveals significant defects, the buyer may back out of the offer within a certain timeframe without being penalized. A less dramatic (and more common) outcome is that some defects will be found and the repairs will be negotiated and delegated to either the buyer or seller. This is one part of the process where your real estate agent is particularly essential! As “professional negotiators” it is our duty to get you the best deal and also to ensure that you know as much as possible about your home’s condition before you move in.

The inspection process generally starts with an inspector physically examining the  property from the roof to the foundation. This process could take around 2-3 hours, during which time the inspector will assess the condition of various systems including plumbing, heating and cooling to identify any trouble spots. He or she will then detail their findings in a written report within 24 to 48 hours of completing the physical inspection.

From there, the buyer can review the report with a general contractor to determine which repairs are recommended or are time-sensitive. This may also be the time to conduct more in-depth inspections (see page two of the  attached Buyer’s Inspection Advisory for a full list of available inspections). As a buyer, the choice (and usually the cost) of the inspector is up to you. Inspection prices vary, based both on company and type of inspection, but some (such as termite) may be free and then offer a quote following the report. As always, do your research to ensure that you not only get a fair price, but also a qualified and thorough inspector! You may refer to your realtor for their suggestions of which companies to use, but ultimately the decision is yours to make and are encouraged to do your research to make sure you higher a company you are confident in.

Sample Buyer’s Inspection Election

We know this list can be over-whelming! Every buyer has their own agenda and priorities, so every experience is different. However, we have found that clients usually like to conduct sewer-line inspections, especially when the home has been vacant for any amount of time or if there are mature trees on the lot. Inactivity may result in defective pipes, or tree roots may wrap around them and need to be removed.

Roof inspections are also common, especially with tiled roofs.  Roof damage or missing/broken tiles could allow water to enter the home, leading to costly repairs both inside and outside the home. Buyers also commonly choose to do chimney inspections, as unstable foundations or seismic activity may make using your fireplace a hazard!

The inspection period can be stressful – it is never fun to find defects in your home. However, identifying these issues and negotiating who is responsible for fixing them prior to closing escrow could save you a lot of money (and headaches later down the line!)

Congratulations to the Cohens!!!

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I could not have been more thrilled to give the Cohens keys to their new home this past weekend. It had been quite the journey but through it all I had the privilege of getting to know Sandy and Jay on a more intimate level and learned so much from them.

I first met Sandy when we both lived in San Diego back in 2004. Thanks to facebook we were able to keep in touch over the years and fast forward to 11 years later Sandy is now married to her awesome husband, Jay, and they are living nearby in Pasadena.  I was thrilled when Sandy reached out to me with their new goal of purchasing their first home together. What made reconnecting and catching up even more exciting was the news of expecting their first baby in December!  What an honor and joy to be part of their journey and new chapter in life.

When we first started our search I told the Cohens what they think they want and what they end up with may not be in complete alignment, but the one thing they can trust is their internal guide and the feeling of “meant to be”.  After exploring different neighborhoods, home styles, sizes, shapes, and colors, it was very clear when we walked through the doors of their home that it was the one!

Upon entering escrow, the Cohens worked diligently and quickly with their lender and in scheduling their home inspections. Negotiations with the seller, correcting city rules/regulations, and navigating through the new loan process were just a few obstacles that we overcame to close on Christmas Eve 2 days after Dexter was born! It was so amazing to watch Jay and Sandy communicate, make quick decisions, and plan all during their pregnancy and arrival of their new bundle of joy. There were times when the pressure was high but they kept their cool and had a great attitude through it all. Giving keys to the Cohens may be my all time favorite closing and celebration. I got to meet Dexter, who stole me heart, and I asked Jay and Sandy if facing all the challenges was worth it, which they happily said “Yes” with big smiles on their faces.

I could not have asked for a better Christmas present! It’s moments like this that remind me why I LOVE what I do. With every home that I sell, I learn an even bigger life lesson. From working with Jay and Sandy I will take away what I saw in their relationship. They complement each other so well and work together as a great team. I love the love that they share with each other and can only hope that one day I will be as lucky as they are to have found each other 🙂

Congratulations to Jay and Sandy on your new home, chapter in life, and handsome baby, all of which are very well deserved!

 

Two closings in one week!

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Congratulations to my brother, Mark, for his first home sale! His condo/townhouse sold for asking price of $589,000 and closed in less than 30 days. From this transaction I learned the power of communication BEFORE entering into escrow. The biggest challenge we came across was making sure everyone was aware of the Mello Roos and HOA dues. Irvine and Tustin are known for these additional fees in the newer developments and even though it was disclosed in the listing details, I was surprised at how many agents overlooked it. So my tip to my sellers and listing agents is disclose, disclose, disclose! Pre-screen your agents and prep the clients before they submit their offers. Have open communication and make sure that everyone is aware of any additional fees/taxes/supplements, because you can never assume that they already do know.
After a total of three offers, the house went to a great and well deserving buyer. It was nice to work with his awesome agent and kick ass lender. Their clear and open communication was the key to our smooth transaction and am so appreciative of their professionalism. Congratulations again to Mark, Linda, and my dad for all their hard work!

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Congratulations to Sammi and Alex who sold their home in Gardena. Wow was this a hot commodity! After listing the house I received at least 10 phone calls and over a dozen showings in the first two days on the market. By the third day we had our first open house and had over 30 different parties come to visit! We received multiple offers and sold the house for over asking at $450,000 and it was appraised at value! I have learned a lot from working with my clients, more than they probably know. I feel truly honored to have met such hard working, kind-hearted, positive, and smart people. By observing they way they carried themselves in this transaction I was constantly reminded of the importance of having a good attitude towards all things in life (including business). Their positive mindset is what made this transaction such a pleasure to be a part of and an honor to be their agent!

Congratulations to the Webers!!!

     A very special and happy congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law, Mark and Linda!!!

Like most of my clients, I truly feel that Mark and Linda got matched with this house by fate. Their story of purchasing a new home is different than most but in general it all just felt right and that’s usually the best sign. The stars, moon, and sun all aligned on Super Bowl Sunday when I went to meet up with Mark and Linda at Linda’s twin sisters house in Irvine. The plan was to meet at Mindy and Daniel’s house and then head over to Newport to celebrate Super Bowl together. As a Realtor I always notice open house signs, so when I spotted one pointing in the direction of the community I was entering I made a mental note of it.  Little did I know, the signs continued to follow my route and ended up being only four houses across the street from Mindy and Daniel! When I got there it was 10 minutes until it opened so I decided to go say hi to everyone and then run back to take a peek. When mentioning it, Mindy got excited and told Mark and Linda they should buy it (half jokingly but mostly serious). The six of us walked over together and toured the home. It was clean, bright, and had more space than their current home (perfect for building a family *wink wink). The price was within reach and they were due to refinance their place within the next year. So the thought of buying this home started to make some sense. We went to Newport, had a really fun party, and shared the news with the rest of Linda’s family who also encouraged them to look into buying it. A few day’s later everything worked out financially and we got their offer accepted in a multiple offer situation.

The biggest thing that I learned from this process was the power and importance of family. Everything was only possible with the help of brothers, sisters, moms and dads, and cousins. I saw the strong family values that my in-laws uphold by doing everything they could to help get the twins to live on the same block. The main goal of this whole transaction was to keep the family close together so that their kids can grow up together. Now they will we able to raise their kids together, carpool, and have numerous cousin sleepovers 🙂

Also, I’ve always admired my brother but through this process I gained an even deeper appreciation and admiration for all of his hard work he does to provide for and give his wife the life she wants and deserves. I can only hope to find a husband just as loving and devoted as him one of these days. 

Thank you Mark and Linda for entrusting me with this important process. I look forward to many family gatherings together in your new beautiful home!

Congratulations to the Nguyen Family!!!

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I am so happy to announce that the Nguyen family closed escrow and are officially new home owners! From the moment I met the young couple I knew I was going to enjoy working with them and it was a bonus that I also got to meet and work closely with their parents as well. This kind and genuine family is so deserving of this beautiful home and I couldn’t be happier for them. What an eventful year of getting married, having their first baby, and buying a house! I feel so honored to have been a part of such an exciting time in their lives.

The first time we viewed this house was at the end of the day and a bit dark. I typically don’t like to show property in the evening in the event that the house is vacant and there are no ceiling lights, it makes it difficult to get a good idea of how the space looks and feels. They liked the house but it was one of the first homes that they saw so we continued our search. A couple days and a dozen houses later, the couple still liked this house the best so I suggested we re-visit it to see it in the daylight. The second trip over was not planned but was perfect timing, and what I like to think as “fate”, because when we arrived the sellers as well as their agent were there. I truly believe that everyone crossing paths helped to get our offer accepted in a multiple offer situation. It is so important to be represented by an agent that works well with other agents. Collaborating together to work as a “team” can make all the difference in having a good or bad escrow. I knew that this agent was going to be a pleasure to work with and to everyone’s benefit, escrow was a smooth and successful process.

Establishing a friendly and professional relationship with other agents has always been a top priority of mine. I know it is a key ingredient to getting my client’s offer accepted as well as having a smooth escrow. People may think that the other agent is the competition so it’s not a priority to develop a relationship. However, I believe that it is these relationships help in negotiating during escrow. I was able to represent my clients with their best interest at hand and got their house tented and completely fumigated as well as install a brand new roof! I believe all parties involved in this transaction have come out of escrow happy and to everyone’s benefit we were able to close early.

Congratulations again to the Nguyen family and best wishes for many happy years filled with great memories in their new home!

Congratulations Leiton!

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I’m so excited to announce the closing of Leiton’s escrow! Leiton is a part of my Nisei Week Ohana and I am so honored that he has entrusted his real estate needs with me. I’m very happy to say that it was a smooth transaction and Leiton is now the new home owner of an awesome house!

Tip to buyers:
Leiton was one of nine offers and was not the highest bidder. I established a good rapport with the listing agent and sent a little message with our offer giving some history on Leiton and why the house was perfect for him. The listing agent was very easy to work with and communicate with so it may have helped that I spoke with her a few times to get some in site on how to best position our offer. Ultimately they selected our offer because of the initial deposit and down payment. Some agent’s will recommend that you put as little as 1% down for you initial deposit. But in today’s competitive market I recommend putting 3% down to show your commitment.  Wahoo to getting our offer accepted!

Tip to sellers:
When selecting an offer choosing the highest bid may not be the best choice. You want to make sure you pick someone that has a good agent representing the buyer that communicates well and shows they are highly responsive and willing to work diligently with your agent. You also want to review the full offer to see that the buyer shows genuine interest as well as enthusiasm to the property.

Video tour:

If having a smooth escrow wasn’t a gift in and of itself, Leiton treated me to a nice dinner at McCormick and Shmicks. What a lucky realtor I am!

 

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Crab tower with mango and avocado

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Oysters!

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Stuffed Salmon with crab, shrimp, and brie cheese

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Seafood Mix: Scallops, Shrimp, and Salmon

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Lava cake

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Thank you Leiton! You have been an amazing friend and client to work with. And this was definitely one of the best client gifts I have ever received!

Escrow in Detail – From the Buyer’s Perspective

Last week’s video was intended to give you guys a very general idea of what the term “escrow” means. This week I’d like to go into detail about what goes on during escrow from a buyers perspective so that you can be prepared when purchasing your home.

I. Opening escrow
Once your offer has been accepted by the seller and all terms in the contract have been negotiated, the seller’s or buyer’s agent will order escrow through an agreed upon company. An escrow officer will be assigned to your transaction and your agents will be given an escrow number for reference. When you obtain your escrow number you have officially entered escrow and it will be marked as the first calendar day of escrow.
The buyer will then have 3 days to submit their initial deposit, unless a different time frame was negotiated in contract ie: 24 hours, 5 days, etc. Initial deposit can either be wired directly from your bank or you can drop/deliver a check directly to escrow.

II. Opening package
Your lender will be requesting documents from you at this time to complete and submit your loan package however, you will also receive an opening package from escrow.
A standard package will include:
-Statement of information
-Fire insurance info form
-Preliminary change of ownership report
-Vesting worksheet
-Escrow disclosures

III. Reports and Disclosures to review and sign
a. Title
Escrow will order a preliminary title report and will review to make sure that title is clear of any liens, judgments, loans. You will receive a copy of the report for your records and will need to sign off on it. Be sure to review on your own and ask your realtor if you have any questions.
b. HOA
If you are purchasing a home that is part of an association, HOA docs will also be ordered in the beginning of the transaction for your review and sign off. Things to look for are CC&R’s, Minutes, and Reserves.
c. Transfer Disclosure Statements (TDS)
The seller will provide you with a statement of any known material facts that might affect the value, desirability, or safety of the home.
d. Natural Hazard Disclosure
Escrow will order the NHD which will include whether or not the property is locaed in earthquake fault zones, fire and flood zones, or City or County natural hazards such as landslides. Some NHD reports may also supply info such as airport noise zones, Megan’s Law and Mello-Roos tax district.
e. Termite Report
If a termite report has been negotiated in the purchase contract (offer) then any reports will be need to be submitted to escrow.
f. City Property Reports and Inspections
Depending on which city your property is located in, they may require a city report, water conservation, retrofit, or smoke detector.

IV. Clear for Docs
Once all paperwork has been completed and the loan has been approved escrow will order loan documents and will schedule a time for the buyer to come in and sign in front of a notary. Documents will be forwarded to the title company.

V. Fund
After docs are signed and received, the lender is clear to officially fund the loan. Funds are sent to the title company.

VI. Record and Close
When title receives funds they are authorized to record documents and transfer ownership from seller to buyer. Recording happens the next business day after it funds and usually keys are transfered on the same day but depending on the purchase agreement possession of the home may be extended a few days after recording. Closing packages will be delivered to all parties. Close escrow!

Tips to buyers:
-Promptly review and sign all paperwork to not delay the process. Let your agent know if you plan on being out of town at any time during your escrow period.
-Let your agent know if the escrow is part of a 1031 tax-deferred exchange and provide info.
-Be responsive to your lender’s requested information as obtaining a loan is usually the most time-consuming part of the escrow process.
-If fire insurance is not provided by HOA, contact your insurance agent and provide info to your agent.
-Notify your agent if closing funds are coming from another party or country.

Pheew! That was a lot of info so please feel free to contact me with any questions. I’m always here to help in any way possible!

Below is a visual chart of the escrow process:

The Escrow Process

The Escrow Process

What is Escrow???

I’ve been asked the question “what is escrow” quite a few times from my first time home buyers or friends that have never purchased or sold a home before. Below is a brief video that covers the main role of escrow and what it means to “open escrow” or “close escrow”.

Feel free to ask any questions you would like me to answer in future weber weekly wednesdays. Hope you’re having a fabulous day!

Congratulations Ignacio!

Congratulations Ignacio!

I am so happy to share that Ignacio closed his escrow last week and is now officially a homeowner!

After pushing through the VA loan challenges, he admitted it was all worth it in the end 🙂

Here are some more VA tips/facts:
-VA loans MUST have not only a termite report but also full clearance on any recommended termite work which includes section I (usually seller pays for these) and section II items. (easy handyman work that buyers usually take care of).
-NO per diem can be charged to the buyer as the lender will not approve the loan with these additional charges.

As discussed in past blogs:
-You can put as little as 0% down and there will be no mortgage insurance
-If you have disability there will be no lender’s fee
-VA appraisers are randomly assigned and any safety and hazard issues they note must be fixed

If you are a veteran you should look into your options for purchasing a home with a VA loan. I definitely believe that our vets should use their benefits that our government offers for their service to our country. My recommendation is to always explore your options but if you are purchasing with a VA loan, look for a house that is new(er), in good condition, or flipped.

Congratulations again to Ignacio! It was a tough escrow but we did it!