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What Are All These Closing Costs We Keep Hearing About?

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

When you finally find the St. Clair home of your dreams, make an offer and get an acceptance, it's just the beginning of paying for your new house. Closing costs are generally paid during the time of getting the mortgage for your home or on that final day when you sign all the paperwork to make the mortgage yours! Look for them to be from 3 to 6 percent of the home's price.

1. Title Search and Insurance Fees: The title search is generally done by an escrow company, an attorney or a title company, and it ensures that the seller is the legal owner and able to sell the property, as well as verifying that there are no outstanding liens against the property. Title insurance is protection for the lender only (not the buyer or the seller) against any errors made in the title search.

2. Appraisal Fee: Per the lender's requirement, an appraiser will be hired to complete an appraisal of the property to determine its value. This ensures that in the appraiser's educated opinion, the house is worth at least as much as the loan amount.

3. Credit Check: This is to verify the buyer's credit history and credit score.

4. Flood Certification Fee: This is paid to a third party to determine if the property is in a flood zone. If it is, you will need to purchase flood insurance in order for the lender to give you a loan on the property.

5.  Homeowner's Insurance: This is insurance to protect both the new owner and the lender from financial damage due to fire, vandalism, etc. While you probably won't pay it as a "closing cost", you will need to prove to the lender that you have it in effect.

6.  Inspection Fees: These are not required but highly recommended to protect the buyer from buying a property that has unseen problems. The inspection should include a check of the home's plumbing and electrical systems, heating and cooling systems and structural components.

7.  Points:  Points are a one-time optional charge paid to the lender to reduce the interest rate of your mortgage.

8.  Loan Origination Fee:  Also called a processing or administrative fee, this is a fee charged by the lender to process your loan.

9.  Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI):  If you don't have a down payment of at least 20 percent of the purchase price, the lender will put this coverage on the loan to protect themselves in case you don't make your mortgage payments.

10. Prepaid Interest:  Although your first mortgage payment will probably not be due for at least a month after closing, interest charges start the day of closing and will be prorated through the end of the month you close and added to the closing paperwork.

It's good to know about these fees and charges before you get to closing, so you have the necessary funds available to pay for them. Rest assured, as your Realtor®, we know about all the necessary paperwork and will help make it as painless as possible. Call me, Scott Hickinbotham, today at 636-629-3419 or contact me online to help you buy, sell and close on a St. Clair area home.

 

How to Get the Most Positive Staging Affect for Your St. Clair Home with the Least Money

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

Are you hoping to sell your St. Clair home in a hurry?  Well, then you need to know a few staging tricks  and how to get the most positive staging affect for your St. Clair home with the least money.

Here are a few tips to get you started:                                                              

1.  First, you'll want to take your own personality out of the home so prospective buyers can visualize how the house will look with their personal items in it.  Take down some of the pictures of your relatives and the good times you've had in the past, remove trophies from the mantle, and put away those cute little notes the kids made for you in second grade.  Pack them carefully for when you find your new home and want to have them on display again.

2.  Now that you have the personal stuff packed up, it's time to get rid of what you probably think of as beloved and cherished mementos, but what may look like "clutter" to those visitors thinking about purchasing your home.  This will include such things as magazines, newspapers, books, and even things we may think of as organizational, such as file cabinets or bookcases filled with paperwork and 3-ring binders.  Any desks, tables, night stands, or other cabinets or dressers, need to have their tops pared down to the bare minimum of "stuff" so they look neat and tidy.

3.   At last we're ready to move some furniture! It's time to define the purpose of each room in the house.  For example, is it a dining room or a craft room?  Probably a dining room, so move out the sewing machine and boxes of yarn and empty the dining table of any ongoing projects, so that you could eat off it.  A nice centerpiece of flowers might be a way to add a bit of color and freshness to the room as well.  If one of the bedrooms is a catch-all for your skiing equipment, move the sports items out, get a blow-up mattress and dress it up as a bed.  Not very expensive and you can take it with you to the new house.

4.   If you find that there is a lot of unnecessary furniture taking up a lot of space in your home, go ahead and move it out.  With what's left, create some inviting conversation areas, quiet sleeping rooms, and maybe a real office.

5.  Don't forget the outside of your house needs to be staged as well.  In the winter, be sure the sidewalks are clean and dry.  Come spring, add some potted annuals to make a bold statement of color.  Keep the trees and bushes trimmed, the grass mowed and all the kids' bikes and wagons out of sight.

6.  You've removed the personal stuff, decluttered, taken out excess furnishings, and need a place for all this stuff plus the extra outdoor toys.  If you don't have a huge storage shed or basement corner where you can put these items without causing another area of clutter, you may need to consider leasing a nearby storage unit until you are ready to move to your new home.  Sometimes such places even offer deals for the first month or two of storage, and some go so far as to lend you a truck to move your things into the storage unit.

Now your St. Clair house is ready for those first prospective homebuyers to come and have a look, and the only money you've had to spend is possibly for a storage unit.  Give me a call today at 636-629-3419 or contact me, Scott Hickinbotham, online.  We'll be happy to give you all sorts of good ideas to get your St. Clair area house sold quickly.

Entering the Rewarding World of Homeownership in St. Clair

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

Homeownership, also known as "the great American dream", probably got that name because it does have lots of great things that most people would love to have. Such as:

Equity:  While homeownership in St. Clair does have certain big initial costs accompanying it–closing costs, the down payment, inspections, etc.–historically, homes do appreciate in value. Four to six percent a year has been the average in years past, and all while you're getting the use and enjoyment of the residence as your safe haven away from the rest of the world.

Relationships:  You may not realize it, but owning your own home makes it more likely that you'll live in it longer and get to know the other people who live around you as well. Other neighborhood features like yards and holiday decorating make it easier to get to know the people around you, often while you're both doing yard work or erecting holiday displays.

Predictability:  If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, and that certainly seems to be the best way to go these days, you'll know exactly what your mortgage payment will be. On Day 1 or Day 5000, it will be the same. You can't say that about rent!

Ownership:  Since you own this Saint Clair area property, unlike when you rent, you have the ability to change the look of your home to your liking. You'll be able to paint the rooms a lovely shade of purple, accented with hot pink, put in a wood-burning fireplace that covers a whole wall, turn one of the bedrooms into a giant walk-in closet, plant whatever kind of bush or tree you want, or even add a pool for those hot Missouri summers. In other words, personalize it to your heart's content.

Great Deals:  Yes, right now, there are still great deals to be had when buying your own home. Home prices themselves are low, and you can also get great mortgage rates, making this the perfect time to become a homeowner if you aren't already, or upgrade or downsize if you are.

When you're ready to look at some great deals in the St. Clair area, including Eureka, Pacific, Robertsville, St. Albans and Washington, give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call at 636-629-3419 or contact us online. We have the experience to help you enter the rewarding world of homeownership!

 

Make Me an Offer I Can't Refuse on my St. Clair Home!

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

So your St. Clair house is on the market. Prospective buyers have started coming by to take a look, and you're thinking, "Make me an offer I can't refuse!" Then, lo and behold, your wish comes true, and you get an offer!                                                                                                             

Now you have to decide what to do with that offer. Do you take the offer, make a counter-offer, or turn it down flat. Here are some things to think about when deciding what to do with an offer:

Turning the offer down flat is almost never an option, unless you know for a fact that the buyer will never move from a low-ball offer. However, if you're hesitant to take the offer, ask yourself this important question:  Is this really a low-ball offer, or am I hesitating because of an emotional attachment to the home? If you're looking at all the memories you have in this house, and the upgrades and investment of time and money to get it to where it is today, you may need to start looking at this house in a more financial and less emotional light.

You'll want to take into consideration how long your St. Clair house has been on the market. If it's just been a few days and this is your first offer, you may want to make a different counter-offer than you would if the house has been on the market for several months or even longer without much interest from homebuyers.

While the price offered may be a good one, are there other terms that are not so agreeable to you? Are they asking for closing cost concessions that are a bit more generous than you want to give? Do they want you to move out sooner than you are comfortable with? Are they asking for a closing date that is simply too close? Be sure to take into account all of the terms, not just the price.

Other questions to consider should include:  Will you lose money if you take this deal? Will it leave you too far in debt to purchase another home? Must you sell within a short period of time or do you have some breathing room? Are there factors such as a job that make it necessary for you to sell and move quickly? Have you already bought another home and are getting tired of making two mortgage payments and covering numerous utility bills? Might you be at risk of going into foreclosure if you don't sell the house soon? In some situations, even low offers may be better than no offers.

A great place to get help with all these questions is your Realtor®. We know the market activity--how long area homes are on the market, how much interest your home is likely to garner from prospective buyers, and what other homes in your area are currently selling for. It's always best to figure out your bottom line now, before you get an offer on the table, so you'll know what to do when the time comes.

Please give me, Scott Hickinbotham, a call today at 636-629-3419 or contact me online. Let us help you sell your house for the best price possible. We have experience in the local market and can give you the best advice available.

A Big Down Payment is a Good Thing!

by Hickinbotham Real Estate Team

So you've decided to buy a St. Clair house!  How exciting.  Just one thing;  You don't really have a lot of money saved up for your down payment.  Nowadays, most lenders are asking for at least 20 percent down.  And don't forget, the more you put down, the less you have to borrow and pay back, so in the long run, a big down payment is a good thing.                                                                

Here are a few ways you can get the money for your down payment:

1.  Open a Savings Account:  Put a little in there every week (or every time you get a paycheck), add things like your Christmas bonus, a big commission check, or the extra $10 you saved this week by making your own lattes, and before you know it, you'll have built up a nest egg to use as a down payment on the St. Clair home of your dreams.

2.  Ask Your Relatives:  Of course, we don't all have a wealthy maiden aunt about to shower us with down-payment funds, but maybe you can talk Mom and Dad into adding a bit to what you've saved up on your own (see number 1 above).

3.  Sell an Asset:  Got a boat, RV or extra car sitting around collecting dust that could be sold to add to your down-payment funding account?  Don't forget, if you sell that antique car no one is allowed to drive, you'd also be saving on insurance and registration fees.

4.  Liquidate Investments:  If you happen to have some investments, now may be the time to liquidate them.  If you have a stash of Savings Bonds, you may want to find out if they're still earning interest or if they've reached maturity and are ready to be cashed in and put to a better use.

5.  Use Your Income Tax Refund:  It is that time of year again when we have to file our income tax returns.  If you're one of the lucky ones getting a tax refund this year, why not earmark it for use as the down payment on your new house?

6.  Get a Second Job:  Maybe you can work a few hours on the weekend at your local fast-food restaurant, collect aluminum and sell it to a recycling firm, babysit, have a giant garage sale, or sell cute little hand-made knitted baby garments online.  Don't forget that every little bit you can save, earn or beg from your friends and relatives all adds up over time.

Once you feel you have enough of a nest egg for your down payment, contact me: Scott Hickinbotham, online or by phone at 636-399-2296, and we'll help you find the perfect home in the St. Clair area.

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Contact Information

Photo of Hickinbotham Real Estate Team Real Estate
Hickinbotham Real Estate Team
Scott Hickinbotham
862 S. Outer Rd.
St. Clair MO 63077
Scott: (636) 399-2296
Office: (636) 629-3419
Fax: 636-629-4462