Thinking of Building a Home? Know Your Options!

Unlike buying a new car, new homes don’t loose their value as soon as you buy them.  In fact, they can be a better investment than a used home if you choose the right builder and have your home built in the right location.  New homes have come along way over the years and if you want the latest and greatest in your next home, new construction is the only way to go.  Finding the right location, however, can be a bit hard if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Energy Efficient New Homes Biloxi Gulfport Ocean SpringsNew Construction Homes have all of the latest energy efficient and smart home functionality.  Getting a new home warranty is another benefit when buying a new construction home. While you can buy a home warranty with a used home, it normally only covers the appliances and minor coverage on the systems of the home like electric, plumbing and HVAC.  The State of Mississippi mandates that all new home builders must warrant their home’s build quality and systems for 1 year and structural for 6 years. Check out the Mississippi Home Warranty Act for more information.

New construction home building process elliott homes garlon homes mason trendsetters dr horton adams homes westin homes dsld homesThere are many pitfalls in building a new home, so we decided to go over a few of them here.  All agents at NextHome E-Realty have worked for multiple builders and have vast knowledge in new home building along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. While many builders try to take care of their customers, many do the minimum to get to the end.  There are really two types of builders you will be dealing with in single family residential homes.  The first is a Production Home Builder which builds you a home with hardly any changes that you can make.  The second type is a Custom Home Builder which is just the opposite.  They do mainly what their name suggests… build you a custom home that fits you exactly down to the door knobs and plumbing fixtures.  Let’s take a closer look at both types.

“Production” Home Builders

Adams Homes home for sale DR Horton homes for sale biloxi homes for sale gulfport homes for sale ocean springs homes for saleEssentially, production home builders build the same homes over and over and they’ve gotten very good at it.  The more efficient they get at it, the more they can bring down their cost of the home and pass that saving along to you.  Production builders also build on their own lots in their own subdivisions that they sometimes have developed.  The main three production builders on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are Adams Homes, DR Horton and DSLD Homes.  All offer to pay closing costs as long as you use one of their preferred lenders.  While value seems to be the biggest focus for production builders, they don’t give you the ability to make changes to their plans.  This means that you will most likely have to compromise on your home’s design.

“Custom” Home Builders

Elliott Homes for sale Biloxi Gulfport Ocean Springs homes for sale Garlon homes, Westin Homes, Mason Trendsetters, Homes for saleIf production home builders offer the best value, custom home builders offer you the best design… at a price.  So if you need some specifics in your next home, custom home builders offer you the best peace of mind because ultimately, you’ll be the one having to live in the home.  There’s nothing more annoying than to be reminded daily you should have chosen to build your home differently after you move in.  Having a home builder that asks the right questions eliminates this way up front.  You need to discuss how you live in the home, not just how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need.  The most well known custom home builders along the Mississippi Gulf Coast are Elliott Homes, Fritz Homes, Shepard Homes and Sapphire Homes.

Have a New Construction Home Builder in Mind?

Smart Design Properties - We specialize in representing you when building a new construction home with a new construction home builder here on the MS Gulf Coast. Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, Pass Christian, Bay St Louis, Diamondhead, D'Iberville, Ocean Springs, St. Martin, Gautier Mississippi

The next step is to give us a call at (228) 697-4636 to start the design process.  It normally doesn’t take very long… getting to know you and what you are looking for in your new home will be fun. We’ll be looking at house plans and narrowing down how your next home build will be a positive one.

Building a new home can be very rewarding if done properly.  We spend a good deal of time “sharpening the axe”.  The more time we spend in the beginning, the better the build will go in the end.

Remember to contact us here at NextHome E-Realty first before contacting any new home builder.  They have their own sales staff representing the builder’s interest and we will be representing your interest.  The great part about having Smart Design Properties on your side is that it cost you absolutely nothing.  We get paid by the builder, but as the state mandates… we represent you!  If you have already visited the home builder’s model home, it’s okay!  We can still represent you as long as you have not signed their construction agreement yet.  So, contact us now to get started!

5 Top Tips When Buying A Foreclosure

We’ll give you 5 Top Tips in buying it right!  Foreclosures can be a tricky purchase due to several issues that can arise in the home buying process.  With the last few years giving us more foreclosures on the market than usual, everyone is looking for a great deal.  You can get a deal and sometimes a steal, if you play your cards right.

The big lure of foreclosures is the price… but it comes at a cost.  All bank owned properties are sold “AS IS” with no seller’s disclosure of the property and most of the time sold granting the buyer a Special Warranty Deed, not a General Warranty Deed.

#1) Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

foreclosure home mortgage approvalGetting pre-approved for a mortgage is a huge advantage over other foreclosure buyers you may be competing against.  Having a pre-approval letter to submit with your offer significantly increases your odds with the bank’s opinion of you.  It says you can actually go through with what you are claiming in your offer.  Banks mostly require a pre-approval letter to be submitted and if you already have this done, you can make the offer on the spot… not having to wait to get pre-approved.

#2) Get a Home Inspection

get a home inspection when buying a foreclosure in biloxi, gulfport, ocean springs, gautier, pascagoula, long beach, pass christianWhen buying a foreclosure, getting a home inspection is a must and can be worth its weight in gold!  A good home inspector can give you insight into a home that even the seller wouldn’t be aware of most times.  Over time, a home can fall into disrepair in areas that can’t be seen.  Home inspectors have a huge checklist to go through from checking the attic vents for leaks to checking the plumbing connections under the kitchen sink.  They can give you a very detailed report with pictures of concerned issues which is very helpful in making an offer. Another big reason you want a home inspector is to check for Chinese drywall.  This is still a big issue today since a lot of homes had drywall repairs after Hurricane Katrina.  Chinese drywall can be very harmful to people and pets… and the house suffers as well.

#3) Check With the Home Owner’s Association (HOA)

home owners association, hoa, hoa dues, foreclosures in biloxi gulfport ocean springs mississippiMore times than most, buyers do not check with the Home Owner’s Association before putting in an offer.  Not only do you want to see if the past property owners paid their HOA dues which may be due, you want to ask people in the HOA about the neighborhood and the property if they know of any past issues. When dealing with a bank foreclosure, the bank doesn’t have any knowledge of the property’s history and they are exempt from filling out a “Property Condition Disclosure Statement”.  Another thing you want to get from the HOA (if there is one), is to get a copy of the restrictive covenants. This way, you won’t be surprised after you move in that you can’t erect a fence or have pets.

#4) Read the Fine Print

Read the fine print when buying a foreclosure home in biloxi gulfport ocean springs long beach pass christian pascagoula mississippiBefore putting in an offer on a bank owned foreclosure, you will have to sign off on the bank’s disclosure package.  Sometimes it can be 50-60 pages of fine print… some pertaining to you on this specific property, some not.  The reason there are so many pages is because of so many different types of properties and issues the banks have had when foreclosing on properties across the United States.  Here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we don’t have to worry much about snow or basements, but some of the disclosures you may have to sign could pertain to these.  When I say “have to sign”, I mean it.  All banks will not accept an offer on any of their foreclosures without having the paperwork on their side.  This is what you are giving up for price… some liability.  I say “some liability” because if you do what we are saying here, your liability will be reduced.

#5) Find Out Why It Was Foreclosed

Find out why a home was foreclosed on or not selling before you buy a foreclosure in biloxi, gulfport, ocean springs, pascagoula, gautier, pass christian, long beach, diamondhead, mississippi gulf coastIf the house was foreclosed… why?  Was it the layout?  Was it not priced correctly?  Was it listed previously?  If it was listed, compare the old and current listings to see if you can see any discrepancies. We have another blog article named “Looking to Sell?  Here’s the Top 5 Reasons Why It May Not”.  Read this article to see why this house didn’t sell.  It could have been the location, functionality or condition.  Whatever it was… you want to try to figure it out before you make an offer, not after you move in.  If you need to sell the home later, you want to be able to without surprises. The more you do now, the better off you will be!

Top 10 Tips for the Mortgage Process

Are you a first time home-buyer?  Has it been a while since you’ve purchased a home or refinanced?  Don’t worry, we’re here to help!  Our team at Gulf South Mortgage is prepared to walk you through your loan step-by-step; however, borrowers have the best chance for a smooth transaction when they understand more about the mortgage process. Below are a few helpful tips to assist in your preparation.

#1) Consider Your Budget

Your loan officer will undoubtedly help you achieve a monthly payment that you are comfortable with, but you can think about this in advance. We all have our own definition of “affordable”. Consider all your monthly bills and decide approximately what amount you’d like your total mortgage payment to be. Just because you can qualify for a certain amount does not necessarily mean you are willing to pay that each month. Other factors such as taxes and insurance affect your monthly note and must be considered. You may also want to take into account furnishings, maintenance cost & cosmetic changes or repairs. The long term goal is for you to be happy with your monthly mortgage payment.

#2) Get Pre-Approved

Not only do sellers prefer buyers who come pre-approved by a lender, which makes your offer more attractive, but a pre-approval also gives you confidence to shop accurately and efficiently. You can typically have an answer within the same day and be equipped with a vital instrument for an accepted contract.

#3) Be Accurate In Your Loan Application

When your loan officer takes your application, it is very important to be accurate and forth coming. You are responsible for truthful representation. Each applicant is unique and specifics matter.

Examples include:

Complete 2 year employment history listing ALL jobs with specific dates

Recent life events such as divorce, relocation, bankruptcy, etc.

Changes in income or specifics of overtime pay (exact timeframes & amounts)

Don’t fudge numbers or hide information as this will only delay, or possibly even derail, your loan. Providing accurate information in the beginning ensures a smoother process and timely closing. Be honest, and your loan officer will gladly help navigate you through any potential obstacles.

#4) Get Organized

Some general documentation is required for every borrower. On your first appointment with your loan officer, you will always need 1 month’s current paystubs, 2 month’s bank statements on all checking/savings accounts, and the last 2 year’s FILED tax returns and W-2s. Also, please bring a photo id and social security card. Additional documentation may be requested, but these items will certainly get the process started. We will be happy to make copies for you or assist where possible.

#5) Be Prepared to Get Personal

Obtaining a mortgage may feel a little intrusive at times, but you are not alone. Lenders analyze every corner of your financial life in order to qualify you for a mortgage. You will be asked many questions that might feel financially invasive, but rest assured this is protocol, and no one is picking on you or your situation. We will do our best to keep this to a minimum, but be ready to be forthcoming with your loan officer, provide needed documentation and sign letters of explanation approved by you. Don’t feel anxious about the process. We are here to help, and we’ll work through it together!

#6) Respond Promptly To Requests For Additional Information

During the loan process, additional documentation may be required by the underwriter. Information may include sourcing deposits, providing a copy of the cleared earnest money check, completing employment & residential history, etc. Please know in advance that this is completely normal, and respond as promptly as possible to these requests. The quicker you can get needed documentation to your loan officer or processor, the quicker your loan can be underwritten and cleared for closing. Your timely cooperation is very helpful in making the process go smoother and is greatly appreciated!

#7) Leave Your Finances Alone

In the months leading up to your pre-approval try not to make major changes to your finances. This includes moving money from one account to another, making cash deposits, or receiving gift funds from a friend or family member for your down payment. Since lenders require extensive paper trails and funds to be sourced, it is best to speak with a loan officer before taking these actions. No question is a silly one and your loan officer will be glad you asked!

#8) Pay Those Bills On Time

Your credit has a significant impact on your ability to qualify for, and what terms you receive, on a mortgage. To improve your credit, get current on your payments and stay current. Approximately 35% of your credit scores are based on whether or not you pay your bills on time; 30% of your credit scores are based on how much debt you owe. You might even want to consider paying down some of your debts. If you are unsure of your credit scores or what debts to pay off, your loan officer will be happy to discuss this subject in detail and guide you to make the right choices.

#9) WHAT NOT TO DO after applying for a loan:

  • DON’T provide earnest money in cash
  • DON’T be late on any payments
  • DON’T establish any new debt (credit cards or loans) or charge money to current cards
  • DON’T make any major purchases (furniture, vehicle, appliances, etc.)
  • DON’T make cash deposits that cannot be verified on paper.  No “mattress money,” tips, or other unprovable funds. All money involved with the transaction has to be accounted for on paper. Payroll, tax returns, insurance claim checks are all acceptable. If you have questions, please ask before you deposit.
  • DON’T quit your job, change jobs or make ANY changes that affect your income (even a promotion) without speaking to your loan officer first. Changes to employment or income can affect loan approval.

#10) FIRST THING TO DO after applying for a loan:

Contact your loan officer immediately should anything arise related to your employment, income, assets, financial obligations or major life events.

The Top 5 Reasons For Buyer Representation When Buying A Home!

Purchasing a home is one of the most exciting moments in anyone’s life.  Not only is homeownership a right of passage, but purchasing a home is also a major investment.  As such, it is essential to do everything possible to ensure the process goes smoothly.  While a lot of the photos online make the home look fantastic… there are other features that can make the home unappealing like location, proper zoning, restrictive covenants, school ratings, foreclosure comps, taxes and insurance.

One step homebuyers can take to ensure the home buying experience is a good one is to enlist in the services of a Buyer’s Agent.  A “Buyer’s Agent” will have access to information that you will not.  This access will make your decisions more informative and you will have less surprises after you move in.  While there are numerous advantages to working with a Buyer’s Agent, here is a look at the Top 5.

#1) Save Precious Time!

Save time when buying a home by getting a buyers representation agent in Biloxi, Gulfport or Ocean Springs, MississippiOne benefit to working with a Buyer’s Agent is that it can help you save a significant amount of time in your home search.  Let’s face it, searching for the perfect home is a time consuming process.  With the help of an experienced Buyer’s Agent, however, you can more effectively narrow down your choices so that you only spend time looking at those homes that genuinely meet your needs and budget.  Nothing can be more frustrating than to find your perfect home and then find out it is under contract or already has multiple offers.  A Buyer’s Agent can also narrow down your favorites and then give you “the skinny” on each home… making it easier to only view the homes for sale that really meet your needs, not just look like they do online.

#2) Have Someone in Your Corner!

Having a buyer's agent in your corner will reduce stress and make your home buying experience much better. You will most likely get a better deal on the property as well on homes for sale in Gulfport, homes for sale in Biloxi, homes for sale in Ocean Springs, MississippiAnother benefit to working with a Buyer’s Agent is that it gives you someone who is working on your behalf.  When it comes to buying a home, working with only the Seller’s Agent puts you at a distinct disadvantage.  This is because the Seller’s Agent is obligated to represent the best interest of the person who is selling the home.  A Buyer’s Agent, on the other hand is bound to represent the best interest of the person who is doing the buying.  When it comes to negotiations, having someone who is in your corner can make all the difference in the final outcome.  A Buyer’s Agent has access to the listing’s history to see what price changes have happened, how many days it has been on the market, if it has been listed and expired before, and access to the Seller’s Property Condition Disclosure which discloses all information the seller knows about since they have owned the property.

#3) Get an Extra Set of Eyes!

Get an extra set of eyes by getting a buyer's agent to represent you, homes for sale in gulfport, homes for sale in biloxi, homes for sale in ocean springs, mississippiPurchasing a home is an emotional experience.  At times, it can be difficult to separate those emotions from reality.  A Buyer’s Agent acts like an impartial set of eyes that can look more critically at the options in order to provide meaningful and helpful feedback.  By acting as an extra set of eyes, the Buyer’s Agent can also make certain the paperwork is properly completed in accordance with what was agreed upon.  Comparing properties can be tough, but your Buyer’s Agent will see them for what they are… an investment that you may need to resell later.  A good Buyer’s Agent will know they may get the call to help you sell and they don’t want to look stupid later by trying to justify their recommendations when you purchased your home.

#4) Reduce Stress!

Reduce stress by getting a buyers agent to help you buy a home, homes for sale in gulfport, homes for sale in biloxi, homes for sale in ocean springs, mississippiEven with the help of a Buyer’s Agent, buying a home can be a stressful experience.  From looking at numerous homes, to securing the necessary financing, to negotiating a deal, it is not unusual for you to feel overwhelmed by the process.  With the help of an experienced Buyer’s Agent, however, stress can be reduced by handing many of the headaches over to the agent.  Furthermore, by working with a Buyer’s Agent, homebuyers have someone available at all times to answer any questions that they might have.  Knowing where to get the best mortgage, insurance quotes, closing attorney, and home inspector are just some of the things that an experienced Buyer’s Agent can help reduce stress as you get closer to closing.

#5) Save Money!

Save money by buying a home using a buyers agent, homes for sale in gulfport, homes for sale in biloxi, homes for sale in ocean springs, mississippiWhile it may be counterintuitive, getting your own Buyer’s Agent actually helps most buyers save money.  With the help of the negotiating skills that a Buyer’s Agent brings to the table, most buyers are able to pay a lower price and/or have more items included in the purchase price.  From having the appliances stay in the home to having certain repairs made before the purchase is finalized, you can potentially save thousands of dollars with the help of skilled Buyer’s Agent.  Remember, price isn’t the only thing that matters.  Actually, lowering your offer price too low can insult the Seller to the point where they won’t negotiate.  The reason for this is they feel that you don’t see the value they see in their home and don’t feel comfortable selling it to you.  A better strategy can be to gain better terms instead of price.  Getting terms like having the Seller pay your closing costs, insurance, taxes and depending upon your mortgage lender, a portion of your down payment.

Looking To Sell? The Top 5 Reasons Why It May Not!

While some people feel they can do it on their own, many choose to use a real estate agent. Why?  Well, there’s many reasons… but, the biggest reason is that Realtors have access to much more exposure for your home than just putting a for sale sign out and putting an ad on Craigslist.  While you may get lucky to find a buyer that way, the best way to get the most value out of your home is to find the perfect buyer that falls in love and will, therefore, pay top dollar.  The five biggest reasons why most homes don’t sell are listed below.  We will be looking at these five from the point of view of the buyer because ultimately, their impression matters… and matters big time!

 

#1) Location, Location, Location

Blue Ribbon SchoolsWhen you hear this phrase you usually think of a new business opening and they have to find the best location for their restaurant, car lot or nail salon.  In residential real estate this refers to a few key points.  The first being proximity to where you work, play and worship.

The second is the neighborhood being on the upswing or downward spiral depending on the curb appeal of all homes on your street and recent foreclosure sales in the area.  The third is the school zone which can cut out a lot of your buyers instantly.  The better the schools in your area, the better value you will keep in your home. While not all people have school aged kids, this still matters to a lot of people for future resale value.

 

#2) Price

Home for sale reduced priceThe thing about pricing which makes for a longer time on the market is to overprice it.  This is how the usual seller thinking goes… “We’ll price it high at the beginning and if it doesn’t sell within a few months, we’ll drop it at that time.  We don’t want to miss out on any extra equity in case there is someone that wants it right away.”  This is generally how sellers approach pricing their home.

The problem with this is that the buyers out there are very informed these days with all of the online content available.  Between the public info available and the real estate agent they are working with, you are out leveraged for this type of selling strategy.  What happens is that the home sits on the market for 2-3 months and then gets a price reduction.  The buyers in the market see a price reduction and immediately believe that there is something wrong with your home… and sometimes will cross it off their list to view simply because of this reason.  Again, put yourself in their shoes.  They have a lot of homes to view and the earlier they can cross some off the list, the better.

The best way to price your home is to see what homes like yours have recently sold (last 6 months) for in your area.  Then price it comparatively and stay firm.  This will result in a better negotiated offer and less time on the market.  The longer on the market, the more open you are to a lowball offer.

 

#3) Condition

Staging before and after photos biloxi homes for sale gulfport homes for sale ocean springs homes for saleUnfortunately, most sellers are emotionally attached to their home and the buyers that view your home are not. Buyers just want the best deal that fits their criteria in a new home. One quick way to get buyers to see themselves in your home is to declutter and remove most personal items from your home. It helps buyers to see past your stuff and see themselves living there.

The more the buyer can get emotionally invested in your home, the more they will fall in love and offer you more. This is Sales 101 for any business… get the buyer emotionally attached to the product or service and they will buy more often than most and pay more for it. So, if you want to get more for your home, stage it so that any buyer can walk in and immediately see themselves living there and not seeing personal photos, old furniture, clutter and any items that makes a space feel small. While the inside visual impression is important, many buyers today are looking for “Move-In Ready”… not a “Fixer-Upper”. Yes, a lot of buyers are watching HGTV… but not for the fix-up shows. They are watching to see trends in what to buy, what not to buy, and what will bring them the best value in their upcoming home purchase. One of the biggest things on buyer’s minds these days is energy efficiency. With utility costs on the rise, make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible, while recouping the cost of any improvements you make.

 

#4) Functionality

Elliott Homes - The Allen Open Floor PlanFunctionality pertains to the way the home feels and flows as a buyer walks through.  It also pertains to the room mix.  A bad room mix would be a 4 bedroom / 1 bath home.  This setup can be another instant “cross off” their list just from seeing the MLS listing information.

Generally in South Mississippi, if a bedroom doesn’t have a closet… it’s not considered a bedroom and the appraiser won’t give you its value.  Another functionality problem that commonly exist in older ranch styled homes is that they are more closed off and feel boxy.  These homes usually have 8 foot ceilings too, which makes the layout less open and less desirable.  Most buyers these days are looking for open plans with split bedrooms which means that the master bedroom is on the opposite side of the house as the other bedrooms.

If you have a functionality problem with your house, sometimes your biggest competition is a new construction home.  Builders know exactly what buyers today want and they are building their business future around it.  Smart home features and energy efficiency are at the top of the list… not to mention everything is new and carries a new home warranty.  Click on the great room pic above from Elliott Homes to see the open plan layout of the Allen Plan.

 

#5) Exposure

Smart Design Properties MLS SyndicationYep!  Even though exposure is listed at #5, it’s a big reason why a house doesn’t sell.  The reason is that no one knows it’s for sale.  Yes, you have a “for sale” sign in the yard (FSBO or Realtor), but that’s not enough.

Putting it on Craigslist and taking out an ad in the local real estate magazine or paper isn’t enough these days either.  This is where having a great listing agent pays off.  Once your agent has all of the “correct” information about your property, they should be using a syndication hub to provide the widest cast of exposure your house can get.  This is a service that only a great real estate agent can provide.

Our brokerage, NextHome E-Realty has over 100 participating publishers reaching homebuyers on more than 900 websites.  You should receive a listing report on how your house is performing on these sites every two weeks as well.  This way you can see sooner than later to make changes to your price or how your home is listed.  One website that continues to be the #1 local real estate search solution is this one… GulfCoastPowerSearch.com.  Click on the image to get a better view of some of our partners.

 

In Summary…

NextHome E-Realty logoBefore you do any improvements to your home, visit all of the homes in your area to see what your competition really is… not what you’ve heard.  Be the buyer… step into their shoes!  After all, if you sell your home you will be a buyer.  While making improvements is great, only make the improvements that you can see a return on.  Also, only make the improvements that will put you ahead of your market competition and not any more.

When we see people over improve their home, its usually when they didn’t ask an experienced agent about what they were going to do.  They just did the improvements and assumed that their listing agent would be able to sell their home for more.  As you can see above, there are 5 main reasons why your home will sell or not sell.  While some of the reasons listed can’t be avoided, like location, you CAN change some of the others.

Before you make any of these changes, call us to get a CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) to get started.  We can help you with all of these 5 areas and give you the most optimal chance at selling your house in the least amount of time and at the best price possible!

 

~ Justin Allen, Broker/Owner of NextHome E-Realty