Trulia’s – Home Buying Checklist

Get Started: Trulia’s Home Buying Checklist

Posted on December 28, 2015

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Use this free home buying checklist to jump-start your real estate journey.

Buying a home can be bewildering and stressful. (We get it.) And we’re here for you every step of the way.

That’s why Trulia made a free, printable home buying checklist that breaks down the process and points you to the tips and tools you need to find your next place. Download the PDF here to get started on your real estate journey.

1. Gather financials

Before you start looking at homes for sale, get your financial house in order. First, request your credit report from all three bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). Comb through each report to ensure it’s accurate — and fix any errors you spot!

Next, compile all the documents you may need to provide to a loan officer, including pay stubs, bank statements, and previous years’ tax returns.

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2. Research mortgages

Credit score and financial documents in hand, you’re ready to start researching options for your home loan.

Take advantage of online aids like Trulia’s mortgage tools. You can comparison shop from a diverse group of reputable lenders in all 50 states, ranging from small, regional providers to larger, well-known brands such as Citi and Bank of America. You’ll get a personalized quote and can read lender reviews and ratings to help gain insights into which lender is right for you.

One of the best things to tackle on this section of the home buying checklist? Find out if you qualify for a special loan, such as a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan or any special home buying financing options through state or federal programs.

Make sure you get that mortgage preapproval letter — it’ll make you a more competitive buyer.

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3. Explore neighborhoods

Now for the fun part of the home buying checklist! It’s time to explore neighborhoods.

Use Trulia’s local maps to investigate everything from commute times to walk score to school ratings and crime activity. Once you’ve honed in on the right neighborhood for your new place, be sure to check out bordering neighborhoods for even more options.

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4. Make a shopping list

As you get deeper into the process, it can be tough to keep your priorities straight. The more homes you see, the more you can lose track of what really matters.

Yes, that home has a gourmet kitchen with stainless steel appliances. But it’s $75,000 above the comfortable high in your price range — worth it?

That’s where this section of the home buying checklist comes into play: the home-shopping list. Take a few hours to hone in on exactly what constitutes a “must-have” item in your new home and then expand upon those points to determine what might constitute your “nice-to-have” and “dream features.”

For example, a well-lit kitchen with ample storage space and new-ish appliances might be in your must-have section, stainless steel appliances and granite countertops in your nice-to-have section, and a chef-style gas range and pot filler in your dream-features section.

Knowing what matters most will help you and your real estate agent navigate the home buying process more quickly — and with less confusion.

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5. Find an agent

As with any profession, there are amazing, miracle-working real estate agents … and there are some less than stellar ones. While it may seem like an easy to-do on the home buying checklist, finding a real estate agent is one of the most important steps in the process.

Read agent profiles, ratings, and reviews on Trulia’s agent directory to get a better sense of their qualifications and specialties. Ask family and friends for recommendations — and be sure to call your prospective agent’s references to get details on their experience.

But above all else, be sure to choose an agent who specializes in the type of home you’re seeking and is an expert on your desired neighborhood.

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6. Start house hunting!

You’re so close to the finish line! (Well, almost.) This is when the real action begins.

Now that you’ve completed all preliminary steps on the home buying checklist, you’re ready to start searching. Online listings are a great place to start — download the Trulia app and sign up to receive listing alerts that meet your unique search parameters. Visit open houses and work with your agent to schedule private showings.

Enjoy the house hunt, because your next steps — negotiating with sellers, home inspections, closing costs, and more — still lie ahead.

Posted by Trulia

Trump for President?

Corona Caltrans sign displays ‘Vote Donald Trump’ message

 

Did you see this? crazy people

November Home Sales Down

U.S. home sales tank in November

Associated Press

Home sales plunged sharply in November, as buyers faced rising prices and new regulations that might have delayed some closings.

The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales of existing homes collapsed 10.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million. It was the weakest pace in 19 months.

The setback follows solid gains in real estate for much of 2015. Sales of existing homes are on track to rise roughly 5% for the entire year. But the introduction of a new disclosure form in October likely prevented many homebuyers from closing on sales in November. Home values are also rising at more than double the pace of wages.

The median home sales price was $220,300 in November, a 6.3% annual increase from a year ago. Sales fell in all major geographic regions, including the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

The new rules introduced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to inform homebuyers about interest rates and fees may have delayed the completion of sales last month. It took 41 days to close a sale in November, compared to 36 days a year ago. The extended timeframe means that some sales may have been pushed back into December.

“The effect should be a one-time hit to the data and we expect the uptrend in sales to get back on track next month,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

Still, an improving job market and relatively low mortgage rates have encouraged home-buying for this year. Unemployment at a healthy 5% has endowed more people with a sense of financial certainty.

But tight inventories and rising prices have curbed further gains. Sales have cooled after accelerating to a rate of 5.58 million in July. Relatively few properties are on the market as the economic expansion has crossed the six-year mark, with many homeowners still recovering equity lost during the Great Recession and the bursting of the housing bubble.

The number of listings on the market has dropped 1.9% from a year ago, a shortage that has restricted options for buyers and fueled escalating prices. As a result, more people have no choice but to rent. The share of homeowners has slipped to 63.7% from a high of 69.2% in 2004.

Low mortgage rates have minimized some of the financial pressure. Still, rates are higher than a year ago. The Federal Reserve hiked a key short-term rate last week, the first increase of its kind in nearly a decade as the economy appears solid enough to manage higher borrowing costs.

The average, 30-year fixed mortgage rate has risen to 3.97% from 3.8% a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

This House is one with Nature

This House Is Perched on a

Waterfall for Maximum Nature

The Buttermilk Falls Estate is a home broken up into pavilions perched at various angles on top of and around a craggy waterfall. The name alone conjures up a scene of white, foamy water cascading over rocks in a forest. And in this case, that’s entirely accurate.

Just outside Rhinebeck, New York, the pavilions are arranged on a private lake, connected by delicate walkways. The main house is nestled in stone between the lake and the edge of the 60-foot waterfall. From the living room, you can see the waters crashing down on the rocks below – and the wall of windows is retractable, peeling open the room to the outdoors.

Many of the rooms are encased in windows, but the best view comes from a small patio that seems to float at the top of the falls, just a few steps away from the main house. To reach it, you must walk along the edge of the cliff – which was once a dam that generated energy for a previous home on the property, according to the Rhinebeck Historical Society (PDF). Before that, the site hosted a paper mill.

The current estate, now on the market for $9 million, was built by architect Steve Mensch in 1997 as a place that fostered both autonomy and connection for his unusual family, according to Architectural Digest: his wife, Pam; their two sons; his two sons from a previous marriage; and his companion, Greg Patnaude. “Greg and Pam were graduate students at Cornell—she in classics, he in theater—when I was a professor of architecture there,” he told AD. “We’ve lived together for 25 years.”

He fell in love with the location as soon as he saw it, he told the author of the book “At Home in the Hudson Valley”:

“It had that crystalline, magical stillness of untouched whiteness. And the falls! A heart-stopping gigantic sculpture, roaring with the waters of the melting snow. I felt as if I were somewhere on the Rhine and immediately imagined a modern version of one of crazy King Ludwig’s castles.” (Ludwig was responsible for Neuschwanstein, the castle that inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle). 

However, Mensch scrapped the idea of building a “vertical castle” after spending time at the site in a little cottage to which he’d moved a cot and a drafting table, Architectural Digest wrote.

The estate that Mensch built originally consisted of nine buildings, including a music studio for his wife, living quarters for Mensch’s four grown sons, an additional guest house and a pool house. Architectural Digest described it as a compound, built so that everyone could live on the property together as one, while still having their own separate spaces. The property has since been subdivided, reducing the 100 acres to 26.

The three-bedroom main house has a master suite with another retractable window wall, a large library/sitting room, and a bathroom with a soaking tub and steam room. The master bedroom sits on the top floor, while the guest bedrooms and a media room fall on the three floors below, connected by glass stairs as well as an elevator.

The roof is made of copper, the frame and ceiling is made from dark mahogany, and the floors are unpolished granite, to blend into the surroundings.

Two guesthouses remain on the property. One has two bedrooms and a bathroom as well as a kitchen and living space and—you guessed it—retractable window walls. The other is described as a “quaint open space with built-in queen-sized bed nook” in a listing on Airbnb, where the whole property rents for $1,950 a night. Both guesthouses have porches and views of the water.

The fourth building is a three-level artist studio/office near the bottom of the waterfall – with, of course, retractable floor-to-ceiling glass walls that in this case offer a front view of the waterfall.

A collection of walkways, stairs and bridges link the buildings together, including a wooden walkway that floats over part of the lake and a suspension bridge that connects two sides at a narrow portion of the lake. They meet in a pathway around the watery edges of the property.

The house is about five minutes from Rhinebeck, a village on the Hudson River about two hours north of New York City.

Tiny-Home Village in Dallas Aims to Revolutionize Homeless Care

Tiny-Home Village in Dallas Aims

to Revolutionize Homeless Care

December 15, 2015

By Patrick Sisson, Curbed

Next spring, on a 3-acre strip of land near the intersection of two Dallas highways, just south of the Deep Ellum neighborhood, Keith Ackerman will help kick off a radical experiment in helping the city’s homeless population.

The Cottages at Hickory Crossing development, which will consist of 50 tiny homes measuring 400 square feet each, looks and sounds like a miniature subdivision – exactly what Ackerman, the executive director, aims to create. But there’s a lot more to it than placing cute buildings and manicured lawns near a crook of land between I-30 and I-45. The former social worker and therapist sees this project, a collaboration between area nonprofits, as a socially, morally and financially sound investment. By creating a model community that offers round-the-clock, on-site care to the neediest of the city’s homeless population, many of whom struggle with drug addiction and mental health issues, it’ll provide space to recover and thrive, all while saving the city a considerable amount of money. An area of town once known as a “shooter’s gallery” for heroin users may become a model for helping some of those addicts recover.

“By putting people into a housing environment where they have case management support, they will no longer resort to county services at the same volume,” says Ackerman. “We’ve done a case study that shows it’s going to cost less. The goal—and I don’t mean to sound morbid—is for people to be able to die at home, to give them a place to live so their last chapter is much better than the previous few.”

When Hickory Crossing opens in a few months, each resident will have their own cottage.

The idea for Hickory Crossing was inspired by another at-risk population, evacuees from Katrina who came to Dallas. Initially conceived of by John Greenen, executive director of Central Dallas Community Development Corporation and architect Brent Brown of buildingcommunity Workshop, the tiny house concept would have provided a quick method of creating individualized shelters for a large population. By the time they had devised the concept, it proved too late to roll out for Katrina evacuees. But it proved readily adaptable to the at-risk homeless population.

Organized in clusters, the cottages—which BC Workshop designed to include a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom, along with sound attenuating walls to block highway noise—will be arranged around a town green area and community center, which will include a clubhouse, library, computer lab and meeting room for AA meetings, along with offices for social workers, nurses and psychiatric case managers. Residents will be invited to help with the 50-by-30-foot community garden and apiary, and take advantage of the granite path encircling the property, interspersed with fitness stations, a numerous organized group activities. Built with LEED certification in mind, the development will offer numerous transportation options, including a nearby light rail stop, access to DART buses and a set of shared bicycles that can be rented out.

Ackerman, who has spent his career at positions that intersect with the homeless population, from being a psychiatrist to working in halfway homes to recently serving as the Chief Operations Officer for local anti-poverty organization CitySquare, believes providing all these amenities can not only help some of the neediest, but also improve the bottom line. The problem of chronic homelessness in Dallas isn’t any different that other metropolitan area. Of the roughly 6,000 homeless in the city at any one time, 2,000 are chronically homeless, and within that group, a smaller population who may have a mental illness is significantly at risk, and require robust case management to get back on track. They’re also the segment of the homeless population that ends up utilizing the most government resources, such as emergency medical services. Ackerman and CitySquare did the math: on average, those living on the streets cost the city $40,000 annually. Having the same at-risk homeless person living in a cottage at Hickory Crossing costs just $15,000 a year.

“If we give them a place to live, and they have all the resources on campus, then we could make a serious impact on this very vulnerable population,” Ackerman says. “Some people just don’t have the ability to graduate from a program themselves, and can end up dying on the streets. I truly do see people living here for the rest of their life. We project just a 15 percent turnover annually.”

That concept and philosophy of giving the homeless a place to stay as quickly as possible as a means of assistance and empowerment, known as housing first, has been used by other institutions and organizations, such as Common Ground in New York, which transforms old hotels into permanent housing environments for homeless. Hickory Commons breaks ground by including a 24-hour medical and psychiatric care center on premise.

Ackerman wants to stress that this isn’t free housing. Residents, who will be drawn from the homeless population based on a risk assessment survey seeking only the most vulnerable, will have open-ended leases as long as they follow the rules, and have to live alone, without children or spouses. Housing will be based on a voucher model, like Section 8, and everybody living here will have to contribute 30 percent of their income, whether it’s work income, disability or benefits payments. The $6.8 million project, a public-private partnership mostly funded by individual donors and private foundations—the city and county of Dallas pitched in $1.5 million and $1 million, respectively, from their existing budget for homelessness—is envisioned as a long-term investment.

Ackerman believes the numbers will add up. But just as importantly, he sees Hickory Crossing as the basis for a positive community. There’s a reason why the main building is being called a clubhouse, why picnic tables and grills will be spread across the lawns, and why the staff will include a “concierge.” It’s about making a home.

“You know that Bible verse, where it says ‘do unto the least of these my brethren?’” Ackerman says. “That’s who we’re helping.”