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What are the different style properties available to buy?

  • Single Family Home- You own the entire home and the land and you are fully responsible for any repairs and maintenance to the property. You still may be constrained to architectural guidelines by the subdivision or the town.
  • Townhome- You own all vertical space, generally you share a common side(s) wall with a neighbor. Usually, you are part of a Homeowners Association.
  • Condo- You can be surrounded by someone on your side, below and/or above you. Again, you are part of a Homeowners Association.
  • Duplex- Almost like a home, but you only own ½ the property and generally share a common wall with the other owner.

What is the Association Fee all about and why does it vary so much by project?
If you are part of an Association (usually condo or townhomes) you have to pay an Association Fee for shared expenses to the project such as (trash pick-up, common area insurance, property management, snow removal, Cable TV…) Associations self-govern to an extent so they can set their own fees within reason. Some associations may have higher fees as heat is included in their fees (as they would have a common boiler) while another association does not have heat included as individual units are separately metered and have their own water heater. Also, some associations are better at saving gradually for future BIG repairs (roof, siding…) while others do not make much of an effort to save for a Replacement Reserve. This is something you would want to further look into and discuss with the Property Management company or a Board Member. Just because an association fee is lower than a comparable property, doesn’t always make it better, as the complex with the lower fee may not be budgeting as well as they should or does not include as much in their fee.

What is the recommended first step in my real estate search?
Make an appointment with ~2-3 lenders. This will give you an idea of how much money down is required, current interest rates, how much you can qualify for and your projected monthly payments.   Once you know how much you can qualify for, you now know what price point to look at on the real estate market.  This will give you/me a starting position that we need to now find what property best meets your needs given your financial loan parameters.

What is a short sale
A short sale is where the expected sales price of the property is not enough to cover current liens, such as a mortgage, on the property and the owner of the property cannot repay the these liens.  If you see a listing that says “short sale approved”, this means the lien holder, typically a bank, has come to an agreement with the owner on a sales price for the property.  Conversely, if a listing says “short sale”, the owner & lienholder(s) may have yet to reach an agreement which could make for a longer than normal contract process.  The possibility also exists that the price that the Seller & Buyer have agreed to, the lien holder(s) will not approve thus the real possibility of the deal falling through.

Should I get a Home Inspection?
YES! You are about to invest a significant amount of money into a property.  This will most likely be your biggest investment that you make in your life.  A home inspection which is typically a few hundred dollars will give you a general idea of issues with the home.   Other items to talk to your home inspector about is a radon test, termite issues & lead base paint.  You might also want to consider a boiler/furnace inspection, if you have a well a water quality/flow rate test & your sewer pipes inspected.

Do I need Home Insurance?
If you are buying a single family home and are getting a loan, the lender will require you to have home insurance.  If you are buying all cash, the option of home insurance is up to you but highly recommended.  If you are buying into a condo/townhome that has a HOA, the HOA might cover home insurance.  Please check with the HOA to see if this is covered and what is covered.  If the HOA does cover home insurance, I still recommend getting an inexpensive insurance called a HO-6 which covers the interior of your unit.

Any other tips when I find a property that I am really interested in?
If you have kids, make sure that you have checked out the school district and are happy with it.  If you went through the property during the day, return to the neighborhood in the evening during the week (5-9pm) as well as at some point on the weekend.  This may give you an idea if the neighborhood is active or if perhaps the neighbor has a non-stop barking dog :-(  If you see some people out and about, ask them if they enjoy living in the area.

Is the market seasonal in Mesa County?
Yes to an extent.  While there is year round sales, the major timeframe for buying and selling seems to be March-August.

How long will the real estate contract process take from acceptance through to closing?
If all goes well with the home inspection and the lender, I would plan on 30-45 days.