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How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal

RisMedia - May 3, 2018 - 3:05pm

(TNS)—Even when a seller and buyer agree on a price for a home, the deal can collapse if the property appraises for less than that price.

For example, let’s say a seller lists his house for $325,000, the buyer offers $275,000, but they settle on $300,000. A week before closing, the appraisal comes in at $265,000. That’s the maximum price for which the lender is willing to offer a mortgage.

Who’s going to make up the $35,000 difference?

In this case, the seller has already come down on the price and doesn’t want to lower it again, and the buyer may not have enough cash to cover the shortfall, or does not want to pay more for the house than its appraised value.

As a result, the deal falls through.

What Causes a Low Appraisal
Short appraisals are common in declining housing markets because the lack of recent comparable home sales in the area, or “comps,” make it hard for appraisers to determine the current market value of a property.

When home sales slow down, good comps “age” quickly. Add foreclosures and short sales to the mix and appraisals can run all over the map.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct, or HVCC, which went into effect in May 2009, compounded the problem. The HVCC prohibits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lenders from having direct contact with appraisers.

As a result, most lenders work through appraisal management companies, or AMCs, whose pool of residential appraisers includes those with limited training or little familiarity with the geographic area being appraised.

Know How to Protect Yourself
You can protect yourself from low appraisals. Here are some suggestions for buyers and sellers.

If you’re a buyer:

  • Tell your lender to find an appraiser who comes from your county, or perhaps a neighboring county. After all, you’re paying for the appraisal.
  • Ask that the appraiser have a residential appraiser certification and a professional designation. Examples include the Appraisal Institute’s Senior Residential Appraiser, or SRA, or member of the Appraisal Institute, or MAI, designations.
  • Meet the appraiser when he inspects the home and share your knowledge of recent short sales and foreclosures that could skew the comps. You can speak with your appraiser; the prohibition applies only to your lender.

If you’re a seller:

  • Get an appraisal before you list a home. Search for a qualified appraiser in your area on the Appraisal Institute site.
  • Use the appraisal to set a realistic listing price for your home.
  • Give a copy of your prelisting appraisal to the buyer’s appraiser.
  • Question a low appraisal. There’s always a chance the appraiser or a supervisor will take into account new or overlooked information.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

The Shortcomings of Preapprovals

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

Many real estate professionals request that buyers obtain a mortgage preapproval letter from their lender before going out on home showings....

Categories: Real Estate

Congressmen: ‘I Can’t Afford an Apartment’

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

Some lawmakers in the nation’s capital are sleeping in their offices because of the steep cost of living.

Categories: Real Estate

Must-Do May Checklist for Homeowners

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

This month marks a good time for your clients to conduct a home checkup. Here’s what they should be looking for.

Categories: Real Estate

Fed Decides to Leave Rates Alone—For Now

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

The Federal Reserve says it expects to continue gradually raising interest rates later in the year, but they will likely remain at historically...

Categories: Real Estate

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger: Commercial Impact?

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

If approved, the deal between the two wireless companies could reshuffle thousands of square footage in the retail property space.

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Top Places to Achieve the American Dream

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

For many people, living out their life aspirations requires being located in a place of economic opportunity and diverse communities.

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Equity-Rich Properties Hit Tipping Point

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 3, 2018 - 12:00am

The number of homes in the black is down from peak levels in 2017. Why has it dropped when home prices are on the rise?

Categories: Real Estate

Silent Killers: Managing Transactions With Hazardous Home Conditions

RisMedia - May 2, 2018 - 3:50pm

Mold. Radon. Lead.

For many homebuyers, these are words that strike fear and introduce uncertainty into a real estate transaction. Depending on how severe the conditions are, they not only may be hazardous to the health of the home dwellers, but also may be deal-killers, as well.

So, what’s the best way to manage a transaction in which inspections reveal the ugly truth behind a typically picture-perfect home? The answer isn’t simple, as it largely depends on the severity of these hazardous home conditions, the location of the home and the temperament of the buyer.

Where Are They Found?
In many areas across the U.S., high radon levels are more commonplace than the discovery of lead and mold. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), higher concentrations of radon are most commonly found in the Northeast, Midwest, Southern Appalachia and Northern Plains regions. According to Radon.com, the highest levels are found in Pennsylvania, averaging 8.6pCi/L, followed by South Dakota at 9.6pCi/L.

In the Westchester area of New York, hazardous levels of mold are not as common except within distressed properties, but high radon levels are more expected.

“Much of Westchester is built atop bedrock and granite, and older homes tend to have porous stone foundations,” says Melissa Colabella, a real estate salesperson with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty Irvington in New York. “I have only a few select clients who buy and sell distressed properties, which is a market where mold is an issue, but they typically buy the homes in cash and expect to gut it to the studs anyway. In the high-end residential market, you will not see many situations involving mold, but even luxury homes are prone to fluctuating radon gas.”

Lead, however, appears within areas that have older homes. Any homeowners looking to sell property built before 1978 must complete a lead disclosure. Areas such as Boston, Mass., are host to a multitude of older homes, which were typically constructed using lead pipes, along with lead-based paint.

“In Greater Boston, we have a majority of older homes, so lead is most common, then radon and mold only on occasion,” says Paul Mydelski, founder and chairman of RE/MAX Leading Edge in Boston.

And as Andrew Northrup, broker at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty in Chicago, Ill., has experienced, these three conditions can fluctuate in severity and occurrence even within the boundaries of a single city.

“I’ve found radon, lead and mold in many different areas of the city and suburb,” says Northrup. “City radon levels are on a lower scale in the suburbs, but new developments in both areas can have higher levels of radon from the displacement of ground materials during construction. For lead, condos and single-family homes built before 1978 can potentially contain lead-based paint. Mold can be an issue in many homes in the city and suburbs where below-grade space is used, and in attics where improper ventilation is present.”

What Is the Biggest Challenge?
Regardless of what the levels of mold, radon and lead are, homebuyers are by far the biggest obstacle when trying to close a transaction with any of these conditions.

“The biggest challenge of managing a transaction with high levels of radon, lead or mold is actually trying to tamp it down with the client,” says Mydelski. “Our job is to guide the client through the options of tools to repair the issue.”

And often, as Colabella has experienced in her own business, parents can become an obstructing force even if the conditions can be easily remediated.

“Radon is a fairly simple mitigation process costing roughly $1,500-$2,000 in [Westchester, N.Y.],” says Colabella. “It’s hard to tell a first-time homebuyer that radon gas is not a deal-breaker when their family members say it is. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that fluctuates, and if you don’t have it during your initial home inspection, you may still detect traces in the future—and while a client may trust their REALTOR®, they will always trust their parents more.”

Agents should begin educating buyers on these conditions at the start of the buyer-agent relationship. Familiarizing buyers with the terminology, possible severity and options for mitigation will ensure they are not caught off guard and scared away during inspections.

“It’s important that REALTORS® educate their buyers on potential hazardous home conditions by providing them with the EPA’s educational pamphlets,” says Northrup. “Also, connecting them with licensed professionals that test and/or offer remediation services can help to set proper expectations on how to best deal with the issue and the potential costs. This information can also be provided to the seller to then negotiate a mutual solution.”

How Can Agents and Homeowners Be Proactive?
Agents should have scripts regarding property conditions for sellers, as well as buyers. Depending on the condition, there are steps that homeowners can take to ensure their own safety and safeguard against inspection complications when it’s time to sell; however, if these issues are not resolved before the home is listed, agents should inquire about any known problems so they may be disclosed to potential buyers.

“When representing a seller, it’s imperative that they disclose any current known issue to a buyer at the beginning of the transaction to alleviate improper expectations about the condition of the home,” says Northrup.

For homeowners looking to sell, Colabella recommends they get a pre-inspection and resolve the major issues or risk losing more money than what they would spend to remediate the problem.

“Radon tests are inexpensive at $125 and worth conducting every few years, especially if you are living in your basement,” says Colabella.

There are also steps that homeowners can take, not only to monitor levels of radon and watch for mold, but also to prevent these conditions from becoming hazardous to their health. It’s all about knowing what to look for, according to Northrup.

“For radon, keep in mind that any environmental changes to the ground area of the home—or adjacent area due to new construction or an addition to your existing home—could cause elevated radon,” says Northrup. “For lead, monitor for peeling interior and exterior paint. If sanding or removing old walls, remediation experts should be utilized for proper removal of dust and debris. For mold, monitor areas prone to moisture and humidity, such as finished basements and attic areas. Make sure these areas are low-humidity and are properly ventilated.”

With the help of technology, homeowners can better spot these conditions before they become dangerous. For example, a new radon testing tool, Airthings Wave, provides real-time data of indoor radon levels to homeowners who can simply wave their hand in front of the detector to find out if levels are healthy, temporarily high or dangerous and unhealthy. For homeowners, knowing about these problems before they transform into unlivable conditions (especially with mold) can be the difference between a quick fix and a financially devastating one.

“Most sellers do not do any testing or take any precautionary measures with lead unless they are planning renovations,” says Mydelski. “With radon, if you know you have high levels, in most cases, it’s actually relatively inexpensive to mitigate. Mold can be tricky because it is not always easy to discover, but just keeping dehumidifiers going and keeping things dry can be a homeowner’s best start.”

When Does It Make Sense to Back Out?
Not every transaction is created equal when these conditions factor in. While some mold problems are nothing to worry about, others may be beyond the scope of a simple remediation process and are a much too costly fix for the homebuyer.

“If I’m representing a buyer facing a $30,000 mold remediation project and sellers do not renegotiate the price (assuming mold is not taken into consideration in the price), then they should back out,” says Colabella. “But not all mold is created equal, meaning that it is not all expensive or dangerous. In situations where buyers are backing out due to small traces of harmless mold then, ultimately, they will lose a few households before they get comfortable enough to handle it.”

When it comes to lead or asbestos, their presence alone should not set off red flags for a transaction as, in most cases, they are easy to encapsulate with a new coat of paint or coverings for pipes and floors.

“Asbestos was widely used during a certain period and is not necessarily an issue,” says Colabella. “The fibers are hazardous when aggravated. I had a client walk right out of a house when she saw asbestos tile in the basement, but you can put tile on top of asbestos flooring and never aggravate it, making it a non-issue. Asbestos wrapped pipes are more concerning, but also easily remediated and often by the seller. These are not great reasons to walk away from a house you love.”

Looking beyond costs, it’s essential to gauge if a situation merits resolving or if the home poses too much of a safety and investment risk. The EPA estimates that radon causes 21,000 cancer-related deaths each year, while exposure to aggravated lead can lead to reduced growth of the fetus and premature births in pregnant women, as well as growth, behavioral and learning problems in children. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found evidence that exposure to mold can lead to upper respiratory tract symptoms and illnesses in otherwise healthy individuals.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Silent Killers: Managing Transactions With Hazardous Home Conditions appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Kitchens Dethroned as Top Remodeling Project

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

Bathrooms have overtaken kitchens as the most popular remodeling project, according to a new survey by the National Association of Home Builders...

Categories: Real Estate

N.C.: Agents Play Role in Stopping Opioid Crisis

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

North Carolina brokers and real estate professionals were called upon by the state’s law enforcement to help battle a growing opioid...

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8 Real Estate Tech Startups to Watch in 2018

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

Second Century Ventures, an investment arm of the National Association of REALTORS®, named eight startups to its 2018 REach Accelerator Class...

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DocuSign Soars After IPO Debut

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

DocuSign, the e-signature company that helped usher in the era of digital real estate closings, debuted as an initial public offering late last...

Categories: Real Estate

Highest Rates in 5 Years Prompt Pullback

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

Would-be home buyers and refinancing homeowners both receded from the mortgage market last week as mortgage rates surged to their highest averages...

Categories: Real Estate

U.S. Sets Goal: No Traffic Deaths by 2050

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 2, 2018 - 12:00am

There's good news for anyone who spends their time in cars: Federal agencies are promoting ways to eliminate fatalities on and around roadways...

Categories: Real Estate

Taxes Filed—Time to Chill? Not So Fast, Says IRS

RisMedia Consumer News - May 1, 2018 - 3:15pm

(TNS)—The April 18 federal tax-filing deadline has come and gone. Your taxes are paid, and maybe you already have your refund in hand. Nothing to do now but sit back and chill for eight months or so, right?

The Internal Revenue Service respectfully disagrees.

Given recent changes in tax tables created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, IRS officials are urging taxpayers to do a “paycheck checkup” and other double-checks, the better to avoid a possibly unpleasant surprise in early spring next year.

“The IRS is taking special steps to help taxpayers understand these tax law changes,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “We encourage people to do a paycheck checkup to help make sure they’re having the right amount of tax withheld for their unique personal situation. To help with this, the IRS has added and updated a variety of tools and information to help taxpayers.”

The IRS says taxpayers should start by determining how much money they want employers to withhold from their paychecks.

That can be done on the “Withholding Calculator” link on www.IRS.gov. Having too little tax withheld can mean a surprisingly high tax bill next year, and with the average refund topping $2,800, the IRS said some taxpayers might prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in their paychecks.

Taxpayers can use the calculator to estimate their 2018 income tax. It compares that estimate to the taxpayer’s current tax withholding options. Some may wish to change their withholding with their employer. The IRS notes that it’s helpful to have a completed 2017 tax return with you when you visit the website.

Taxpayers who need to adjust their withholding will need to submit a new Form W-4, also known as an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, to their employer. If an employee needs to adjust withholding, doing so as quickly as possible means there’s more time for tax withholding to take place evenly over the rest of the year. Waiting until later in the year means there are fewer pay periods to make the tax changes, which could have a bigger impact on each paycheck.

The IRS said the paycheck checkup is highly recommended for two-income families, people working two or more jobs, parents who claim credits such as the Child Tax Credit, people who itemized deductions in 2017 and those who received either large tax refunds or large tax bills in 2017.

The IRS also has launched a series of “tax reform tax tips” at www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-reform. The periodic notices offer tax changes and other information in plain language.

For some, tax season goes on even now. That includes citizens who filed for an extension, others who did not file or pay what is owed, or those awaiting refunds. The IRS said it has help available for them, too.

There’s no penalty for filing a late return after the tax deadline if a refund is due. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled returns if taxes were not paid by April 18. IRS “Free File” is available through October 15 for incomes less than $66,000. To get more information to file electronically, visit www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free.

If a federal return is filed more than 60 days after the April due date, the minimum penalty is either $210 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. This means that if the tax due is $210 or less, the penalty is equal to the tax amount due. If the tax due is more than $210, the penalty is at least $210.

In some cases, taxpayers filing after the deadline may qualify for penalty relief. If there is a good reason for filing late, the IRS said taxpayers should attach an explanation to their returns. The IRS also noted that taxpayers who have a history of filing and paying on time often qualify for penalty relief. The agency said a taxpayer will usually qualify for such relief if they haven’t been assessed penalties for the past three years and meet other requirements. For more information, do a “first-time penalty abatement” search on www.IRS.gov.

Still looking for your refund? Go to www.irs.gov/refunds, where multiple options are explained to check on your refund status.

Those who owe taxes can get information on payments or applying online for a payment plan at www.irs.gov/payments/view-your-tax-account.

The IRS said it routinely corrects math errors on returns and subsequently notifies taxpayers by mail. If a taxpayer discovers a major error or omission, however, the federal tax agency suggests consulting this site to determine if an amended return is necessary: www.irs.gov/help/ita/should-i-file-an-amended-return.

Finally, the IRS stressed that it never makes initial, unsolicited contact via email, text or social media on filing, payment or refund issues. The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail. Any email that appears to be from the IRS about a refund or tax problem is likely a scam attempt. Don’t give out any key personal information in an email. The IRS wants those suspicious emails forwarded to phishing@irs.gov.

©2018 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Taxes Filed—Time to Chill? Not So Fast, Says IRS appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

HUD Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 1, 2018 - 12:00am

The department has reached a settlement in three states over sexual harassment allegations and has developed an initiative to combat the problem...

Categories: Real Estate

Cities Offer Cash to Lure Relocation Buyers

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 1, 2018 - 12:00am

In towns facing a shortage of workers, some civic leaders are taking the unusual step of paying people to move there.

Categories: Real Estate

Don’t Base Service Standards on Competitors

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 1, 2018 - 12:00am

Look at customer service models outside the real estate industry to develop strategies that clients will love.

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Schools Ripe for Student Housing Investors

NAR Daily News Magazine - May 1, 2018 - 12:00am

Real estate investors have long sought properties near top universities, but developers are eyeing these colleges in hopes of the best returns.

Categories: Real Estate