Frequently Asked Questions

Homes for Sale Frequently Asked Questions

Can a home depreciate in value?

Generally, real property never depreciates in value, or more so, it is not very common for property to depreciate.  This is why it’s a great investment. Make sure you carefully consider location and community when choosing a home, it can effect the homes future value greatly.

If you are in a newly developed area, do some research on the construction of the surrounding areas being developed to determine if they may effect your homes value.

Is an older home as good a value as a new home?

This is really just a matter of preference, but both newer and older homes offer distinct advantages, depending upon your unique taste and lifestyle.

Older homes can generally cost less than new homes, however, there are many cases where new homes can also cost less then older homes. Most new homes will not have any backyard landscaping and some don”t include any front landscaping either. With an older home, the landscaping is normally already completed and could have 10”s of thousands of dollars in landscaping done, which is included in the purchase price.

Taxes on some older homes may also be lower. Some people are charmed by the elegance of an older home but shy away because they”re concerned about potential maintenance costs. Consider a home warranty to get the peace of mind you deserve. A good Home Warranty plan protects you against unexpected repairs on many home systems and appliances for a full year or more after you move in.

In a new house, you can pick your own color schemes, flooring, kitchen cabinets, appliances, custom wiring for TV”s, electrical, computers, phones and speakers, etc., as well as have more upgrade options. Modern features like media rooms, extra-large closets and extra-large bathrooms and tubs are also more attainable in ground-up construction. In a used home, you rely largely on the previous resident”s tastes and technological whims, unless you plan to farm thousands into a remodeling and rewiring.

New-home designers can use new building materials such as glazed Energy Star windows, thicker insulation and other technology that will lower future energy costs for the owner. Most states now have minimum energy-efficiency requirements for new construction. Kitchens and laundry areas in new homes are designed to house more efficient energy-saving appliances. Older homes, unless they have undergone an energy retrofit, usually cost much more per square foot to air-condition and heat.

Builders have to follow very strict guidelines in new-homes and additions, especially in the West and Northwest, where earthquake safety standards must be observed. In general, new homes are usually more fire-safe and better accommodating of new security and garage-door systems.

Older homes can be better judged for their quality and timeless beauty. New homes that now possess a smooth veneer might reveal the use of substandard building materials or shoddy workmanship over time.

As you can see there are advantages and dis-advantages to each, but it really comes down to what fits you and what you are looking for in a home.

What is a broker?

An agent who is authorized to open and run his/her own agency. All real estate offices have one principal broker.

What is the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a loan?

If you’re prequalified it means that you POTENTIALLY could get a loan for the amount stated to you, assuming that all of the information you provide to the bank is accurate and true. This is not as strong as a preapproval.

If you’re preapproved, it means that you have undergone the extensive financial background check, which includes looking at your credit history, previous tax returns and verifying your employment – and the lender is willing to give you a loan, basically meaning you’re approved!

You will usually be provided an accurate figure which shows the maximum amount that you are approved for.  Most sellers prefer buyers that have been preapproved because they know that there will not be any problems with the purchase of their home.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.

Can I pay my own taxes and insurance?

When a loan is originated, the mortgage documents specify the escrow conditions. This has become a standard practice for all mortgages, including FHA, VA and conventional mortgages.  Occasionally on conventional loans, FRFCU waives the collection of escrow requirement at closing if the member has a minimum 20% equity position in the property.

How can I avoid private mortgage insurance?

The easiest way to avoid PMI is by putting 20% down payment; however, PMI can also be avoided if you only have 5% or 10% for the down payment. The way to accomplish this is via a first and second mortgage combination commonly referred to as 80/10/10^s or 80/15/5^s.

These two methods combine a first mortgage lien for 80% of the home price with a second mortgage lien for either 10% or 15% of the home price leaving the remaining 5% or 10% as the down payment. Because the first lien is at the magical 80% loan=to-value, there is no PMI required, even though a second mortgage is being |piggybacked| onto the financing thus allowing for the lessor down payment.

While the second lien terms are not as attractive as first lien rates, the second mortgage is still home mortgage interest and thus deductible as such on your federal tax return where PMI is insurance and offers no deduction.

How is interest calculated on a mortgage loan?

Most mortgages originated today calculate interest in arrears, unlike consumer loans which calculate interest to the date of payment receipt. As an example, when borrowers pay their February mortgage payments, they are paying the January interest. This method of calculating interest is based on a 360 day year in which each month has 30 days.

Is there a minimum credit score?

Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.

What benefits do I receive from private mortgage insurance?

Title insurance is insurance that protects the lender and buyer against any losses incurred from disputes over the title of a property.

What do I do if I receive a tax statement?

Many tax authorities will mail an informational copy of the real estate tax statement to the homeowner in addition to the Credit Union.  However, there are some statements tax authorities do not forward to the credit union, and in special cases we will need your assistance in obtaining the bill. If you receive a statement for any of the following, please forward it to our office by mail or fax.

  • delinquent real estate taxes
  • supplemental or additional real estate taxes
  • special assessments
  • if the tax authority will not honor a bill request from another party.
How long does the loan process take?

Most mortgages originated today calculate interest in arrears, unlike consumer loans which calculate interest to the date of payment receipt. As an example, when borrowers pay their February mortgage payments, they are paying the January interest. This method of calculating interest is based on a 360 day year in which each month has 30 days.

Property Management FAQ

What insurance do I need as a Landlord?

For hazard coverage, you will need a “Dwelling Policy” for your house or a “Rented to Others” Rider for your condo. For liability coverage, make sure you have sufficient general liability coverage in your hazard policy or through a separate commercial liability policy.

If you are new to being a landlord you should consult with your insurance agent to ensure you are properly protected.

How should a landlord hold escrow?

If your tenant gives you a security deposit or advance rent these funds must go into escrow. In Florida, it is best to open a separate bank account to hold escrow as the law requires that these funds not be commingled with your personal funds. The law dictates this account should be at a “Florida banking institution” and if you choose an interest-bearing account, 75% of the interest or 5% of the funds deposited must be paid to your tenant.

What is a Stipulation?

A Stipulation is a court-approved Payment Plan for a tenant that has fallen behind on their rent payments to their Landlord. It is a way to avoid completing an eviction for your tenants who are serious about getting caught up.

Should I accept pets?

Almost 80% of renters in the Tampa Bay area have a pet, so landlords that promote a “no pet” policy miss a huge number of potential renters. If you limit the pool of potential renters it takes longer to rent your property. Allowing the right kind of pets reduces your vacancy losses by ensuring that your property stays occupied and rented.

Should you rent your property furnished or unfurnished?

Typically short-term rentals are offered furnished as they are used for vacation or corporate housing. However, long-term rentals are typically offered unfurnished, because most long-term renters have their own furniture. In our experience, only a very small number of renters are looking for a furnished long-term rental in the Tampa Bay area, so it will take you a long time to find a long-term renter if you only offer your property furnished.

Should I rent my property without a background check?

All landlords want to rent their property to good tenants. The only effective (and legal) way to know if your potential new tenants will be good neighbors and trustworthy of your property is to perform a thorough background check. This should include credit, criminal, sex-offender, income, and prior landlord references. It’s better to leave your property vacant than to rent to the wrong person.

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