Tag Archives: buying a condo

Creepy Distractions that Turn Off Home Buyers when Selling a Home

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As a Realtor, I see a lot of unusual, even crazy things in people’s homes. If these silent idiosyncrasies could be explained by the home seller, I am sure they would make more sense. But in their absence and left to the imaginations of home buyers, these eclectic eccentricities can often creep home buyers out …distracting them from the advantages of the home and maybe completely turning them off.

I once entered a room with a full-sized child doll sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room. You could not see it until you entered the room. It surprised each and every person who came into the room and needless to say, no one really saw that room. Or the full-size “butler” statues – yes they scare you because they seem like a real person when you walk in the room. Startling to say in the least, creepy to say in the most. This goes for any personal possessions that may not be appreciated by the general public. Doll collections with eyes seemingly following you all over the room are not much lower on the creep-o-meter. Realistic stuffed toy animals of cats sitting on beds or a large tiger in the corner, are another eerie distraction.

And Taxidermy…I have seen heads of nearly every animal on the wall, as well as various skin rugs on walls and floors, horns on walls and full-on stuffed formerly live animals. While these trophies are treasured by the home sellers, to a homebuyer who may not share this hobby, they are unsettling and unpleasant. When you are blindly entering a home, it can cause children to be afraid and many times scare even adults who are not expecting a “jungle room.” Home sellers, let’s put it this way, do you want the home buyers referring to your home as the “dead animal” or even the “jungle” house after their visit. No, that will not sell your home. Put them away in storage, boxes, etc.

Marked graves in the yards for pets or urns of grandma on the mantel are another turn off. While the urn will move with you, home buyers only can wonder how many fluffy and spot bones they will inherit if they buy the home. What is unseen….is the best answer for this.

Weapons in the homes, from samurai swords and cross bows to maces and guns are more common than you would believe. Best to keep the armory put away in a closet in a box, etc. Not only are they dangerous, especially for children viewing the home, but also could be a theft temptation you don’t want to deal with and a potential insurance nightmare you definitely don’t want to deal with.

And while the Nazi flag may be reminiscent of an inside joke or historical memorabilia or something to the home seller, home buyers could easily be offended enough to ignore the home’s attributes and head for the door. Or better yet, they may never come to see the house as they see the photography on the internet and in listings.

Snakes, tarantulas, hamsters, gerbils and lizards may be in cages, but do you want to take the risk that recoiled home buyers will not enter those rooms with their slimy occupants present. If they have to stay in the room, best to cover them …. out of sight, never in mind.

And “Friendly” cats and dogs may be fine for your guests while you are around, but home sellers need to cage or remove these residents and not leave for unsuspecting home buyers…and agents for that matter. You don’t want agents and homebuyers skipping your house when they go to the door and “spot” is barking his head off at the front door awaiting them.

Real life encounters are not limited to pets. Believe it or not, more than once, I have opened a bedroom door to see a lump in the bed that was not laundry, but a real person sleeping in the bed. Both the buyers and I couldn’t get out that room or that home faster.

Again, while it is your home, it also is a product. If you wouldn’t like it in a department store, don’t put it in a home you want to sell. Remember, first impressions last forever and are not easily erased.

Is your condo association property manager working for you or for themselves?

If you want to live in a condo or townhome, an association and usually a condo association property manager is a necessity. But it is adding another layer of control over your life and your home, so you need to be sure you have the best possible representation working in the best interest of all the condo residents.

Most people have little involvement in their condo association until something happens. It is often hard to get attendance of the residents and even harder to get people to participate in the condo board. What you want in an condo association property manager is someone who is going to help all the residents with building maintenance and repair planning, proper budgeting and general management. But often what you end up with is varying levels of bureaucracy with managers who are difficult to deal with and even harder to communicate with. Here are a questions to ask when you are considering management of your condo or townhome association property manager.

Do you have the property license, insurance? Make sure they have the proper credentials. In Illinois, people who manage properties must have a Community Association Manager license with the State of Illinois. Per Illinois regulation, the person who deals with the association’s money, contracting, etc. needs to have this license. So, if the person you deal with on a regular basis for everything does not have this license, this is illegal, sometiemes even if they are working for the person with the license. Administrative staff have specific tasks they can and can not do. Anyone can verify this license on the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation websitehttp://idfpr.com/licenselookup/ Also, make sure the company and/or the person has proper liability insurance, like general liability or errors or omissions insurance and some kind of bond if they hold your money. This protects the association and all the residents.

What is their experience/reputation? Even properly licensed individuals can vary in experience. Let’s face it, some people are good at their job and some are just not. Before you hire a condo association property manager, talk to people on their other associations. Yes, references are often like calling someone’s mother – you are not going to get a bad reference or they will not give the person to you. I recommend asking for the board member names and numbers of ALL the associations they represent and maybe even ask for a couple non-board resident names. Check them out.

What are ALL the fees they charge? Not only the fees they charge monthly, but what other fees are involved. Do they charge extra for accounting fees? If legal and accounting fees are outside, do they markup those professional fees? What fees do they charge for resident sale transactions? Managers often charge fees during sale transactions to cooperate. This is something no one usually knows or asks. They charge to give the buyer a copy of the bylaws, budget and/or declarations. This can be $100-200 charge to the seller. Sometimes they also charge the buyer and/or seller a fee to transfer their records from the seller to the buyer. I have seen anywhere from $250 to $350 for this charge. These fees are usually a surprise to the seller, but are not an option.
Any condo association property management agreement should disclose and negotiate ALL FEES they can ever charge to residents or potential buyers. Also, should have an agreed timetable for responding to inquiries from residents and requests for documents.

Realtors and residents often see the real truth of the deal with condo association property managers when selling their home. Property managers are an important component to ensure a smooth sale transaction. Contracts require buyers get a copy of the budget, bylaws, and declarations and require the association complete a form indicating the health of the association, if there are any pending assessments or law suits. The association and their cooperation or lack thereof can jeopardize your sale. This is about the time many residents find out just who their association property manager is working for…you or themselves. And if you have an uncooperative condo association property manager during the sale transaction, your buyer may decide that they don’t want to live in a condo or townhome that has this difficult a manager – too much hassle.

For example, it is often a problem to have condo association property managers take forever to get the documents to the buyer and lender and not respond to emails and calls from the buyer and seller’s agents and attorneys and lender.

In one case, I had a deal cancel because the condo association property manager did not disclose that there was a lawsuit against the association. Lenders will not lend money for that deal. So, the seller could only have a cash buyer, which is a very low percentage and will affect the amount of the sales price. In another situation, the association manager failed to advise that there was a special assessment pending until the last minute, forcing the seller to pay additional money they did not anticipate to finalize the deal.

Condo association property management is not an easy job. You have to answer to a lot of residents who all have differing opinions on everything, but I am often surprised when a seller says the condo association property manager is horrible and very difficult to deal with. Then why have them?

How to Win or Lose Multiple Offers when Buying a Home

I hear this all the time from home buyers, especially first-time homebuyers. I am tired of losing a home in multiple offers. With buyer demand, low interest rates and inventory shortages, multiple offers have been a standard in the home buying game, especially in competitive marketplaces and in the first-time buyer more affordable homes category of the market.

Home buyers never win in a multiple offer or bidding war. You don’t know what the other buyers are doing, what their financing is, how many of them are there. It can get very discouraging for home buyers. But, if you want a home and are in it to win it, you can’t be discouraged. You just need a strategy.

Timing is everything. Home buying in a competitive environment is no exception. The cream of the crop homes don’t last long. Beating other offers to the punch could make the difference between a sole negotiation with you and the seller and a multiple offer, so you need to know what is out there and go see it right away. Get into the home right away, even if it is inconvenient, do it. Keep abreast of the market by having your Realtor send you updates on the multiple listing service MLS 2x per day, morning and afternoon, that way you have the most accurate and updated listings available.

And you need to be ready to make a quick decision. Be prepared with your preapproval letter ready. Have all the decision makers attend the first showing. Waiting for your parents to come even the next day and you could be behind the eight ball. While it is important to make a wise unhasty and considered decision, you need to know your marketplace, do your homework and consult your Realtor expert so you know when the right thing comes along.

Don’t submit a low ball offer. That is the first way to lose a home to multiple offers. If you are offering on a fast-moving in-demand home, don’t try to negotiate too much and go really low. Home sellers can consider other offers up until you have a signed (not verbal) contract. If you low ball to try to get the price down, you will lose the home – guaranteed. If another offer comes in, you will definitely pay more to get the price. In a multiple offer, the list price usually becomes the rule, so you sometimes need to get right on it, close to it or over it to win the house.

Again, timing is the biggest factor. Homebuyers always need to consider the market, but not over consider. Remember, if you are getting a loan, and most people are, the home’s value will need to appraise. As a homebuyer, you can never overpay for a home. If you think the price is too high, much better to have no competition in negotiating after an appraisal than keep missing out. Yes, homebuyers do need to pay for the appraisal, so there is some chance of loss, but most times sellers will negotiate once they have a buyer. If you are not sure, have your attorney extend the inspection period and do the appraisal right away, then you can reduce potential risks and losses.

Other terms of the purchase can also be a way to win in a multiple offer. Cash maybe king, but the price is the main consideration to most home sellers. The only way to beat a cash offer is to outbid them. But if you are a cash offer or put more money down, that can be appealing to a seller. Conventional financing is usually more appealing than FHA financing.

Home seller concessions like closing costs, surveys, termite inspections, home warranties and percentage of tax proration can be another way you can beat out the competition. Down payment assistance or relative gifts can be one option other than seller paid closing costs. You can get your own termite inspection, survey and home warranty or do without them. Most financing options no longer require termite inspections and survey. Established homes with obvious boundaries do not necessarily need a survey. And unless your inspection reveals an potential issue with termites, you may not need. VA loans still however need a termite inspection, but it can be provided by the buyer.

Tax prorations are usually a small consideration, but combined with others above, it can win. Depending on the current exemptions, assessment and tax increases and since your lender escrows your taxes at closing and each month, you may not ever have a dime out of your pocket for a tax proration at 100% vs. 5 or 10% over the last tax bill.

Offering to buy the home “as is”. You should always still have an inspection and you still have the inspection contingency in place in a contract, so if you say you will purchase as is and there are deal breakers at the inspection, you can always renegotiate. With other buyers moving onto other deals by then, you may be on your own. You shouldn’t go into the deal with this plan to about face on this term, but you still have options.

There are always pitfalls with the appraisal or as is back up plan though. Backup offers could be in place, so the home seller may just go back to that, but other buyers may not wait around and move onto other homes.

Other terms like favorable closing dates or post-closing possession may suit the home sellers needs and favor your offer.

And if you are tired of the multiple offer game and don’t want to play anymore, there are other options. Very few times does a diamond in the rough have multiple offers. Could be the home a little old lady lives in that is in good condition, but is not updated, could be a foreclosure home. You can get a rehab loan to fix up the home the way you want. You still get your dream home and often a better price and less frustration.

Advice for empty nest or senior move down homebuyers

When you find yourself with an empty nest and you have too much house for your needs, a smaller home and maybe a different area or lifestyle may be the best option. Here are some tips for empty nest homebuyers or senior homebuyers when you are considering a home change.

Assess what you want in a home and what you need for the way you live now. As an empty-nester, the way you lived in your family home when you had kids is not the way you live now. You want to look for an area, home style or needs that suits your new empty-nest lifestyle.

Do you want to do yardwork anymore? Are you ok being in an attached home? Maintenance-free homes are popular among empty nest homebuyers because they no longer want to spend time or have the capability to mow lawns and tend yards. Townhomes or condos are the best bet for a maintenance-free home, but cost of assessments and being attached is something that goes a long with the maintenance-free home benefit.

Do you want activities and a lifestyle? For those over 55, active adult communities can offer a maintenance-free home, even in a single-family home, and also offer activities and other benefits for empty nest homebuyers or senior homebuyers.

Where do you want to live now? Area also can play a part in a new lifestyle. Empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers may want to live near friends, relatives or their children. Schools are no longer the main factor in the home buying decision, but affordability and taxes could be the most important aspects for empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers who can be on retirement or moving toward a fixed income. Crime, transportation and proximity to shopping, restuarants, doctors or services also can be relevant looking at current and future needs.

What kind of home do you need – how big and how small? Size and style of a home are a consideration. Empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers no longer need 4 bedrooms, a huge home and a big basement. They may or may not want a basement. They can usually do 2 or 3 bedrooms, and scale down on square footage. Just eliminating one or two bedrooms and redundant family areas like family room and living room spaces can naturally reduce the square footage. Remember, whatever space you have, you will need to clean and pay for the taxes, maintenance and upkeep. Most empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers are moving to reduce that work and cost anyway, so it is a good time to look at what your space needs are.

One big mistake empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers do is try to fit their old lifestyle into a new home. Furniture is the biggest issue. You may not need a big dining room set for your new home. But if you plan to host family gatherings, you may still need the space. If you don’t have kids anymore, why have so many sets of bedroom furniture? Take the best and sell or donate the rest. Don’t make the new house fit your furniture, make it fit your new lifestyle and needs. And make your kids come and get all the stuff they left behind in your home. They have homes of their own and if they wanted the old trophies, posters, games and other memorabilia that bad, it would already be at their homes. You don’t need to keep or get a big home to store their belongings.

Do you want stairs or one level? Stairs may be something you don’t want to deal with. Even if your mobility is perfect now, you need to think down the line to avoid being forced to move again.

Is outdoor space important? A big yard is probably not essential anymore. Empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers mostly don’t want to deal with a lot of outdoor space, but may still want some outdoor options. So even single-family homes can have less outdoor play areas.

Resale is less of a consideration on these homes as empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers are not looking to climb the property ladder anymore. Lifestyle and affordability are more of a factor as empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers usually have more equity in these homes and are not likely to go underwater. However, resale always needs to be in the thought process somewhere, just may not be in the top priorities.

One big caution for empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers is to make these decisions with their needs in mind, not necessarily the opinions of their family. While family and adult children may offer opinions on any of these decisions, as empty nest homebuyers and senior homebuyers, it is important to listen, consider and then make the decisions that suit you the best. Sometimes adult children let sentimentality toward a family home interfere with what is the best for their parents. And their tastes, desires and thoughts are not always yours. Remember, it is your home, you need to live there, not them.

Selling and Buying a Home with Home For Sale or Close Contingencies – Facts and Fiction

If you are selling you home, do you buy a new home first or do you wait until you sell and risk two moves and being homeless. It can be a dilemma and can be exacerbated by complications of a large family or work schedule, schools, transportation, etc.

Once upon a time, buying a home contingent on the sale of your home was normal. When the housing slump occurred, sellers did not have enough confidence in the market that the buyer could sell their home to risk taking their home off the market. Since 2015, that is beginning to change. Sellers are having more confidence in the market, but not total confidence. Here are some facts for buyers and sellers about contingencies.

Buyers:
. You can not purchase a foreclosure or short sale home contingent upon the sale or close of your home. And banks will not give you months to sell and close on your home.
. A purchase contingent on sale or close is a big seller concession, they need to be compensated with a better offer price to risk losing market time.
. Best time to ask for contingent on sale or close is during the winter months. Sellers are not risking as much. . You have better chance and price negotiation on that – still no foreclosures or short sales.
. Do the inspection up front, but not the appraisal. Yes, the inspection costs money but you need to show the seller good faith that you are serious about the deal. Inspection items are negotiable and need to be done within the 1st week of any contract so no one wastes their time.

Sellers
. Never take a contingent on sale/close contract over a non contingent contract. Yes, you may get a little money more, but it is not a done deal and wasting precious market time can cost you more than you gain if it doesn’t go through.
. Your house is NOT SOLD. There are no sure things here, there is always a risk. Keep showing it.
. Your agent should do a market analysis of the buyer’s home to ensure their home is saleable or closeable to mitigate the risk.
. Don’t compound contingent on sales. So don’t you get a house contingent on sale/close when your buyer has the same situation. And don’t take a contingent on sale/close deal if the buyer’s buyer has the same. Just like dominos, too much risk, it could all come tumbling down.
. Not all sellers should consider a contingent on sale/close. Contingent on close is better, but if you are in a good market and getting tons of activity…..better not to risk it.

The property ladder can not move without someone taking a risk. Contingencies on sale/close can work, but due diligence is required to calculate the benefits and risks. Many sellers and buyers benefit from this, but both must be realistic.

Rehab 203k loans – do they really exist?

Rehab loans exist mostly via the FHA 203k route which allow buyers to loan beyond the amount of the purchase price to either cosmetically rehab homes or do repairs that allow the home to pass FHA guidelines.

Yes, they do exist and recently more lenders are starting to carry streamline FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans to allow borrowers to loan up to $35k beyond the sales price of the home to pay for rehab work.

So, the pink or 70’s shag carpeting can be replaced, the wallpaper or white or bright walls can be repainted, cabinets updated, new tile or hardwood, granite counters installed, stainless appliances purchased, etc. And all can be done at a fraction of the immediate cost through FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans, basically $50 extra per month for every $10k. Yes, it will cost more over 30 years, but less than credit card interest rates and it will happen a lot faster and easier than if you were to save for it and wait and then live in a construction zone. And you will get a deal on a gem of an outdated house.

FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans are a great way to get immediate gratification on that home that ticks all boxes except is not updated and offers buyers a great way to get a good deal on a diamond in the rough.

These FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans; however, are considered high risk by the lenders, and if you think you have to jump through hoops with lenders on a regular deal – double the amount of time, hassle and hoops and that is what to expect.

You have to get a general contractor with experience and who is willing to do a FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans. Although you can get some things done yourself that require no skill and is allowed by the lender and their inspection liasion. Permits need to be filled out and all village codes obeyed and inspected.

You will need to get a contractor right away and they need to be willing to complete forms and comply with all the lender wishes on forms. Usually only 2 draws are allowed – 50% at closing and 50% after completion. Some contractors will not like that. Everyone needs to be licensed for work and everything has to be accounted. You can hire any contractor you want, but they need insurance and licensing, so Uncle George is not likely going to be able to do the job. They can have subcontractors who are licensed.

You usually have 30-60 days to complete the work after closing and then you can move in. You will not be able to live there during the work, that is important to note. Then the lender liaison will approve the work and you move in…. happily ever after.

However, FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans can be tricky for major repairs. Again, high risk becomes higher risk and lenders usually make it very difficult to get this done. Mold or standing water, structural repairs, electrical and sometimes plumbing repairs, or moving or tearing down walls, etc. are very difficult to get approved under this type of loan. Again, lenders try to reduce or eliminate high risks when making loans with the buyer and/or the property. For these kinds of repairs, lenders may require testing or additional inspections and definitely longer review times. This may make foreclosure sellers difficult to get additional time, etc.

FHA 203k Rehabilitation loans ARE possible, but here are a few things you need to know…

Expect at least 60-90 days to close – again, could cause problems with seller, so be prepared and don’t forget the time to close.
You can’t move walls or include pools, furniture, etc. in the streamline loan. There is another type but major reconstruction is really not advisable with a loan.
There are extra fees for the liaison/inspectors the bank will require.
You will start paying the mortgage the month after the closing, so you may start paying even more you move in.
Contractors will delay you. Some contractors don’t like this type of work because of the rules, paperwork and the strict payment and deadline terms. You need to get your contractor bid in before anything can happen, so get everything as fast as possible.
Make sure you get a lender who processed their own loans and can control the process. Lenders who farm this out lose control of the situation and add extra time.
BE patient. The process is very difficult and can be done, but it will be tedious and sometimes not make sense. Remember whoever has the purse pulls the strings and lenders need to ensure the home is worth the extra work.

Millennial Buyers – How to Live for Free

I blog a lot about Millennials because they are very important to every aspect of our economy and housing recovery. One of the millennial trademarks that is unique to this generation is the “boomerang” or “failure to launch” effect of millennial graduates moving back in with mom and dad.

Let’s face it, after the taste of freedom in college, living with your parents as an adult is a little awkward and can be difficult to conduct your life on your terms and spread your wings.

It can have the same difficulties to your parents who don’t keep the same nocturnal calendar as their adult children and are tired of having to tell an adult to pick up their things.

To solve all of those problems and plan for the future, several of my millennial buyers have come up with a new idea that I am calling the Millennial Boarding House.

Instead of living with mom and dad, this formula can be used by smart millennials who don’t want to waste money on rent and want independence. You can be a first-time buyer and create an investment nest egg to move up in the housing market, get government grants and most importantly LIVE FOR FREE. Here is how it works….

1. Use your good credit rating and income to qualify for a nice starter home that has a good price, good area, good schools and is in an accelerating and not a declining area and has potential for future resale. You can do some work updating it if you like or not. The idea is good for now and easy to sell in the future. There are still deals out there and we are in an accelerating marketplace. Interest rates are good. Waiting will cost more.
2. Use government grants through the @Home Illinois program to get $5k in free down payment and/or closing costs.
3. Find a few friends to be roommates and charge them a few hundred dollars each month. Cheap for them and they get independence from their parent’s house or basement.
4. You can live for Free. If you have two or three extra bedrooms, you can charge friends enough to cover your monthly payment and you pay nothing or next to nothing each month to live.
5. You save money by not having to pay anything each month to live, building your nest egg for the future.
6. In a few years when you are ready to get married or start a family, you sell the house for a profit and a nice down payment on your first family house. Or, you keep the house as an investment and rent it out for future income.

There it is, an easy formula for success to start saving money, not waste money on rent and plan for the future. Do yourself a favor and call a Realtor – call me – and get on the path to future equity and success.

Millennials Will Re-Start the Housing Property Ladder

The housing market (the property ladder) has always required the movement of different generations to keep it going. First-time buyers buy the homes, then move-up buyers can move, then buyers moving to warmer climates or smaller maintenance-free homes. It takes all kinds of people to keep ladder working. In the last few years, the ladder rungs have been somewhat broken as buyers in each category have not all been buying and selling. However, an improving economy and a new crop of buyers will help keep the property ladder and the housing market strong in the next years to come.

Millennials are defined as the current generation of young people born just before the millennium. Although there is some dispute about the years of birth involved in this generation, there is no question about the impact they are having on everything. Just like the prior Baby-boomers, these millennials are changing the face of everything they touch. The way we communicate through social media and texting. The way we use computers and what we use them for. And especially the way they shop and spend their money. But mostly, the change they have made in their life milestones. Unlike prior generations, they are waiting longer to marry, have children and move out of their parent’s homes into their own homes. But as the oldest of this generation is just starting to move into their 30’s, their impact will start to move everyone up the housing ladder.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic Social Affairs in 2012, the number of Millennials (79 million) already outnumber Baby Boomers (76 million) in America by 3.94 percent. And a 2014 Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University concludes that this generation by sheer volume of numbers is the key to the full recovery of the housing market. The study indicates that the number of households in their 30s should increase by 2.7 million over the coming decade, which should boost demand for new housing.

They are already out there and starting to impact housing, but in only a few years, the mass of their numbers will be in the market. This is good news for sellers of all kinds. More demand means pricing will go up and sellers can start moving out and up the property ladder to trigger all other sales. Starter homes first, then first and second move up homes and then maintenance-free homes here or elsewhere. It will also help exhaust the backlog of foreclosure properties which area still weighing down assessments and markets.

So sellers, start your engines. The Millennials are coming and they are going to want to buy your houses.

Veterans Benefits can make Homebuying Easier

Today on Veterans Day, we celebrate and thank men and women vets past and present for their service and sacrifice. But there are more tangible 24/7/365 benefits offered in housing that give an advantage to veterans buying a home.

VA loans are a huge benefit. You can use it any time, one home at a time. VA loans are currently the only NO MONEY DOWN option offered for veterans buying a home. AND for veterans buying a home with low money down usually comes with a PMI private mortgage insurance kicker that can be a couple hundred dollars per month. Veterans buying a home DO NOT HAVE ANY PMI. Huge savings and can help qualify for veterans buying a home in a different price range for the same monthly payment. Veterans buying a home need to have a 640 credit score and qualify for the loan on the debt to income ratio. There is a service fee that is tacked onto the back of the loan, so you don’t ever see it really. Also, there are condition standards that the home must meet. This can make foreclosure homes a little more difficult for veterans buying a home (but no more difficult than FHA financing) BUT not impossible. Veterans buying a home and considering foreclosures need to work with a Realtor and lender who are familiar with the requirements. You also will need a termite inspection (no other loans require) and about 45 days to close.

In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Housing also offers a program for Veterans buying a home to receive $10,000 to pay for closing costs, etc. With no down payment, after closing costs are paid for, the extra money can go to paying down the mortgage loan, which means getting a discount on the home. Great program. Doesn’t have to be done on a VA loan. Can be an FHA or conventional loan. Eligibility does have an income maximum and Veterans can not own another home at the same time to use the program. BUT it CAN be combined with other downpayment grant or assistance monies in certain state areas.
I have sold several homes with the use of these programs, both combined and separately and it enabled my
Veterans buying a home to get a home faster and get more home for the same money.

Not all lenders can do VA loans or participate in the IDHA Heroes program. And not all lenders offer the program, even if they can do it. This was the case with several of my clients. Make sure to ask your lender if they participate in the program. Information about both these programs is available online at idha.gov, hud.gov and benefits.va/gov/homeloans.

Another feature for veterans buying a home or just living in a home is the various tax exemptions offered by various counties. An exemption on your taxes is like a discount offered to certain people like homeowners, seniors, disabled people and veterans. This tax exemption or discount deducts a portion of your assessed value, which you are taxed on. Anything helps when it comes to taxes. You need to apply for the exemption with the county you are in and some you need to renew each year. Cook County, for example, offers tax exemption discounts to Returning Veterans and Disabled Veterans. More information and forms at http://www.cookcountyassessor.com/exemptions.aspx. Will County offers many Veteran exemptions including Returning Veterans, Disabled Veterans, special homeowner exemption for Disabled Veterans and tax exemption for Veteran Organizations (like VFW, American Legion, etc.). More information at http://www.willcountysoa.com/exemptions.aspx.

Downpayment Assistance Programs Make it Easier to Buy A Home in Illinois

What can you do if you don’t have enough down payment or closing costs to buy a home? You can buy a home with $1,000 or less. Here are some assistance programs offered by the Illinois Department of Housing Authority (IHDA). All these programs require that the home be purchased and used as a principal residence for at least 2-3 years. And for many of these downpayment assistance programs, you do not have to be a first-time buyer.

I have heard people say – what’s the catch or I wouldn’t qualify. You need to meet minimum credit score and income eligibility requirements, but you just never know. These programs are designed to get people to buy homes, and often the income requirements meet many people. If you can get the money, why not take advantage of it? Or at least find out?

Several towns in Illinois, including Park Forest, South Holland, Chicago Heights, Lynwood, Lockport and Crest Hill, are eligible for the Illinois Building Blocks Grant which provides $10,000 towards down payment, closing costs and reduction in purchase price to buy a home. There are income MAXIMUMS between $90-107,000 and you need to qualify with credit score and income to get a loan. You DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer. The home has to be vacant, move-in ready and only in one of the selected towns.

Smart Moves is a downpayment assistance program available to first-time buyers only to buy a home. You can not have owned a home in the last 3 years to be a first-time buyer. This offers $6,000 in down payment and closing costs. Again, the home must be move in ready and anywhere in Illinois.

There are also programs for property tax relief through state income tax credits for 30 years (the life of your loan). This one is for first-time buyers only and usually is only available at the beginning of the year as funds run out on that one towards the middle of the year or earlier. These other programs, however, do have plenty of money available.

Illinois Veterans can take advantage of two homeower assistance programs to find an affordable way to buy a home. VA loans offer a no money down and no private mortgage insurance option. You need to qualify for the home by income and credit and have a DD214. No income maximums. The home only needs to be move-in ready. The Welcome Home Heroes program provides a $10,000 grant for any town to cover closing costs and downpayment. You need to contribute 1% or $1,000 toward down payment. And you DO NOT have to be a first-time buyer to buy a home with this program.

Not all lenders have the ability to loan a home on these programs but many do. I work with lenders who do offer these programs. If there is a will, there is a way to buy a home. Downpayment assistance to buy a home through grants like this are ready and waiting for you.