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Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA flood maps include zones that are broken into several areas. Our good friend, Shelly Clark at Cardinal Surveying, has broken down for us what the zoning means to us consumers. This will really play a factor when it comes down to obtaining home owners insurance during a purchase.
- Zone AE. Zone AE is an area that has a 1% probability of flooding each and every year, which is why it is commonly referred to as the “100 year flood plain”.
- Zone X (shaded).Zone X shaded is an area that has a 0.2% to 1% probability of flooding each and every year.
- Zone X (unshaded).Zone X unshaded is an area that has less than a 0.2% chance of flooding, commonly known as the 500 year flood plain. This area is considered to be at minimal risk of flooding.
Keep in mind that EVERY property is located in a flood zone. It’s just a matter of which flood zone you’re in and whether or not there is any risk associated with being located in that zone. FEMA flood maps include zones that are broken into several areas.
If you are curious to see which flood zone your house is in, give The Alexander Team a call at 314-329-9042.
Shelly Clark with Cardinal Surveying is very informative and knows everything there is to know about land surveying. With a slogan of “Make it KNOWN what you OWN”, we recommend using them for the next home purchase when a survey is needed. To contact Cardinal Surveying either call 636.922.1001, email them questions at Inbox@CardinalSurveying.com, or visit the website at www.CardinalSurveying.com.
To browse for homes on the market visit www.AskHolliD.com.
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If you’re a struggling homeowner, beware of people who say they can help save your home and lower or eliminate your mortgage debt. Here are a few tips that might save you heartache down the road:
- No third party can guarantee or pre-approve a federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) application…only your lender has the discretion to grant a loan modification.
- If you’re contacted by an individual or company who claims to be affiliated with HAMP or displays a seal or logo representing the U.S. government on a letter or a website, verify their claim by calling the federal government’s Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).
- Beware of anyone who wants to charge you in advance for mortgage services—in most cases, charging advance fees for mortgage modification is illegal. In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission issued the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule which bans advance fees (attorneys are generally exempt from this rule with some conditions, including the requirement that they place any fees in a client trust account).
- Beware of loan modification companies disguised as law firms. These companies often employ a single attorney in order to skirt the MARS ruling banning the collection of advance fees, masking their fees as attorney retainers or consulting fees.
- Beware of unsolicited contacts as well as high-pressure sales techniques.
- Beware of companies that say you cannot obtain a loan modification on your own, or that banks won’t work with you.
- Beware of claims of high-success rates (i.e., 97 percent), guaranteed extremely low interest rates (i.e., 2 percent), and money-back guarantees.
- Beware of anyone who advises you to stop making mortgage payments…and never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company.
- Beware of anyone who tries to convince you they can save your home if you transfer your deed to them or if you file for bankruptcy.
- Beware of anyone who offers to fill out paperwork for you, and never sign loan documents that contain blank spaces (cross out blank sections or write “NA” in the section).
- Beware of offers to participate in class action lawsuits that claim they can help save your home.
- Keep in mind that companies can purchase lists of homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage payments. If you’re a homeowner behind on your mortgage, you may be targeted by loan modification or foreclosure rescue companies—just be sure to do your homework on these companies before giving them any of your hard-earned money.
Bottom line—if you find yourself in financial trouble, contact your lender yourself…you may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule. Or, apply to HAMP on your own or with free help from a housing counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. For more information, call the Alexander Team at 314-329-9042, call 1-888-995-HOPE or go to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
Tips Credits go to: http://stlouisrealestatenews.com/
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St Louis Neighborhoods Where Prices Have Increased The Most In Past Year
Most of the neighborhoods in St Louis have seen home prices increase over the past year, at least to some extent however, some are seeing rates that are significantly higher than others. So where are the St Louis neighborhoods that have seen the largest increase in home prices in the past year? Let’s being with how the data is computed. The table below is based upon current median list prices of homes for sale within a zip code. Zip codes that don’t have a sufficient amount of annual home sales to make their statistics accurate and significant have been omitted.
As the chart below shows, the 63108 zip code area of St Louis (the Central West End) is number 1 on the list as of today in terms of the year over year increase in home prices which is at over 38%. It’s important to note that this does NOT mean that every home in the Central West End has increased in value 38% from a year ago however. What this means is that the median listing price of homes for sale there presently is 38% higher than a year ago. This could be the result of a large influx of higher priced property on the market, or a large amount of foreclosures on the market a year ago, but in any event is still a good thing and shows prices and values are going up in that area. While the table below will give you a good idea of what is going on with home prices in a given area, nothing beats a live analysis by a real estate professional. Give our team a call today and we can help you determine if your house value has gone up and if now is a great time to sell. Call Phyllis, Jeff or Holli today at 314-329-9042. To begin a St Louis home search visit www.AskPhyllis.com!
You thought after you moved you the stress would be over. Not quite. You will want to notify businesses of your move and update items such as your drivers license with your new address. To help make things easier on you, we have put together a list to help relieve the stress 🙂
- Cell phone
- Water Delivery/Treatment
- Pool Services
- Lawn/ Gardening Services
- Housecleaning Services
FINANCIAL AND PERSONAL:
- Credit Card Companies
- Department Store Credit Cards
- Insurance Agency
- Pension Plans
- Air Miles Programs
- Gym Membership
- School Records
- Book clubs
- Music Clubs
- Store Catalogs
- Commercial Promotions
GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC OFFICES:
- POST Office
- Income Tax/ IRS
- Family Support
- Social Security
- Pension Benefits
- Vehicle Registration
- Drivers License
Starting to think about moving? Visit the best home search tool in St. Louis to begin your home search —-> www.StlHomeSearchers.com.
Have questions about real estate in St. Louis, not problem we got your back. Give us a call at 314-329-9042 or give us an email at Homes@AskPhyllis.com
The housing crisis may have tempered some enthusiasm for home ownership, but many people still consider putting down roots and buying a home to be part of the American dream. This is especially true for immigrants to the U.S. In fact, they accounted for nearly 40 percent of the net growth in homeowners between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Research Institute for Housing America (compare this with the 1970s when they represented just over 5 percent of the growth).
But the path to homeownership isn’t always easy for newcomers. Here a look at the challenges permanent or nonpermanent resident aliens with work visas or green cards sometimes face.
- Language barriers. Many immigrants are fluent in English, but for those who aren’t, discussing complex mortgage or real estate terms can be a lot more complicated than exchanging pleasantries at the grocery store or completing a transaction at the post office. For instance, Jeff Riber, a broker and owner of ERA Heavener Realty in Jacksonville, Florida, worked with two couples who immigrated from Bosnia: a daughter who was fluent in English and her parents. “She was having to run point on the entire process for her parents,” he says. “If you don’t understand the terminology, it’s unnerving.” That’s where having a trusted friend or family member to translate can help, especially if the person has been through the home buying process.
- Qualifying for a mortgage. Noncitizens working in the U.S. can qualify for traditional mortgage financing, but because lenders look at U.S. credit histories, those new to the country may not have enough time to build a credit history. With government-backed loans requiring full documentation, lenders generally want to see at least two years of U.S. tax returns from borrowers, including non-permanent residents (those who have a valid work visa but not a green card yet), according to Rob Spinosa, a Mill Valley, California-based mortgage loan originator with RPM Mortgage. If, for instance, you have been working in the country long enough to file 2012 and 2013 tax returns, you might qualify for a mortgage backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Having a relationship with an international institution that offers U.S. mortgages could also help secure a mortgage from that lender.
If not, you might still qualify for a loan from a portfolio lender – a company that originates mortgages and holds a portfolio of loans rather than sells them on the secondary market. As Spinosa explains, these loans typically come with a lower loan-to-value ratio (meaning you might not be able to borrow as much money), a different set of underwriting guidelines and a slightly higher interest rate. He adds that these lenders typically charge a variable interest rate rather than a fixed rate.
The process is a bit different for a non-U.S. citizen who wants to buy an investment property but doesn’t have a Social Security number tied to a credit report. “For us to get an approval for a foreign national, we are checking references for employment and credit references in the country of origin,” Spinosa says. A nonpermanent resident might also use this approach instead of waiting for two years of tax returns.
Of course, establishing credit and showing tax returns is less important if you’re paying cash, which some newcomers do. “There is lending available and they do take advantage of it, but it’s not their mentality [to take out a mortgage],” points out Reba Miller, owner of RP Miller Realty Group, a New York agency with over $1 billion in residential transactions. “It’s more of an American mentality.”
Michael Barbolla, head of Rutenberg Realty, one of New York City’s largest real estate brokerages, has seen several recent cash transactions involving foreign investors. “In many of these new buildings, they’re paying cash, and as long as there’s some verification of assets, the deals can run very smoothly,” he says.
- Getting co-op approval. Housing discrimination based on national origin, race or religion is illegal in the U.S. That said, boards running a cooperative building are allowed to vet potential buyers, and not all of them are friendly to noncitizens. “Boards can’t say ‘we don’t want foreigners,'” Miller says, “but boards can say ‘we don’t want pied-à-terre owners, and that’ll signal foreign investors or someone with a second, third or fourth residence.” (A pied-à-terre is a secondary residence, usually in a large city, used for short escapes.)
Condominiums tend to be more flexible than co-op buildings. “Because it is cooperative living and because you are owning shares in a corporation, you would complete a board package,” Barbolla explains. “Co-op boards ask for all kinds of information, letters of reference, credit checks, and it’s very difficult for a co-op to trace back that information to a foreigner because you can’t necessarily run a credit check.”
Miller says she’s helped foreign buyers without much of a U.S. credit report to secure board approval by encouraging them to collect reference letters from their accountant, broker and others. Offering to put money in an escrow account for the co-op or having money in financial institutions that are known in the U.S. can also help their case. “Try to have transparency as to where the money is and how the money is being held,” she says. “If it’s locked up in a Swiss bank account, you’d have trouble showing it.”
Buying Real Estate as an Immigrant to the U.S.-Told By Susan Johnston
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For Your Protection Get a Home Inspection
I’m going to just throw it out there, Realtors don’t see everything and Realtors don’t know everything. However we do know alot from past experiences, and know how to protect you the buyer from purchasing a money pit. Hiring a Professional to inspect your property is always what our team recommends to give you an understanding of what is truly going on with your home.
What exactly is Inspectors looking at?
Structural: Many home-inspection organizations have set standards to determine the integrity of the essential internal & external structural components. Home inspectors are not structural engineers, but they can identify visual defects in areas requiring immediate repairs & will recommend a structural engineer should they feel it is warranted.
Electrical: Do all the outlets work? Are the GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters) operational? Is there any reverse polarity? Is there evidence of double lugging of breakers at the service panel? Any wiring not properly encased? Landscape watering or lighting systems improperly installed?
Plumbing: Are there any leaks or annoying drips? Are there any pipes that are vibrating because they are not properly secured? Reverse hot & cold taps in bathrooms or kitchen? Are there any toilets not secured to the floor? What about cracks in the shower-tub surrounds? Is the water pressure sufficient? Are there any slow-draining sinks or tubs?
Built-In Appliances: All appliances are tested, including running a dishwasher cycle, testing microwaves, & checking oven temperatures and burners.
Other Inspections you can have performed include
- Chimneys – Performed by a chimney survey to determine the safety & functionality of the fireplaces in the home
- Septic – If a home has a private sewage system, a licensed septic inspector can ensure the system meets current standards
- Well – If a home has a private water supply system, a license inspector can test the safety of the water & functionality of the well
- Sewer Lateral – The sewer lateral pipe runs underground from the main stack in a home to the main sewer line
–As it ages, pipe may become
cracked or damaged by
–Use of a small camera
can ensure the
integrity of the
- Termite Inspection – A termite inspector will identify any infestations or previous damage caused by termites
–Termites are wood destroying insects common to the St. Louis area
- Lead – A lead inspection will identify all lead risks in the home
–Homes built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint
- Radon – A radon inspection can be done to verify levels & determine if mitigation is required
–Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is believed to cause increased risks of some cancers
–20% of homes in the St. Louis area exceed the standards set by EPA
- Safety Hazards: Making certain hot-water tanks are secured; verifying there is proper ventilation of all systems supplied by natural gas; & testing temperature variations on the furnace
Miscellaneous: Other items may or may not be included, but should be reviewed by a qualified professional, such as roofs, sufficient sealing of flashings, noting cracked tiles, exposed felt, adequate attic insulation and ventilation, drainage problems, wood decks, wood-infestation evidence (dry rot), patios, or other exterior structures.
You might question the necessity of an inspection on new construction. However, realize that even though city inspectors have passed certain phases of the construction process and the home has received a certificate of occupancy, there could be numerous small items that may require attention that may or may not surface during the course of homeownership and yet could be a potential structural or safety hazard.
There are other inspections you can have performed on your house, I just went through the most common inspections our buyers choose to use here in the St. Louis area. If you have any questions please contact RE/MAX Result’s Alexander Team at 314-329-9042.
Millenial’s (people that are roughly 18 to 33 years old) are not as interested in buying homes today as their baby-boomer parents were at their age and, while there are probably some lifestyle issues that play a large part of it, the debt they are piling up in student loans may have something to do with their decision not to take on mortgage debt as well. According to information provided by TransUnion, the percentage of Millenial’s debt that is attributed to student loans is 36.8% today, an increase of over 185% from 2005 when student loans were responsible for just 12.9% of that age groups debt. On the hand, the percentage of the Millenial’s debt today that is for a home mortgage is 42.9%, down 32% from 2005 when it was 63.2%, according to TransUnion.
This article was written by Dennis Norman and found at http://stlouisrealestatenews.com/st-louis-real-estate-market/millennials-today-racking-student-loans-home-loans/- The Alexander Team really thought the article was great and wanted to post it to the blog. Thanks Dennis!
Well, it’s October already and Halloween decorations are already starting to surface. Haunted houses are fun to visit but most people wouldn’t want to live in one, right? So that raises a “spooky” legal question. Do real estate brokers or sellers have a legal duty to inform purchasers if houses are truly haunted — i.e, have been the site of a murder, suicide or paranormal activity?
“Haunted” properties fall within the category of stigmatized properties, or real estate that is not defective in any physical manner, but due to psychological or emotional factors may have a reduced
Disclosing that a house has a haunted history may be the most prudent course of action.
value. Among the situations covered under the title of stigmatized is a property that was the site of a murder, suicide, alleged haunting, or other parapsychological phenomenon. About half of U.S. states have laws that deal with stigmatized properties, but most don’t require sellers to disclose if they believe they have a ghost. For example, under Missouri Law, real estate brokers and sellers are under no legal obligation to disclose that a property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide, or has been the site of an alleged “parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.”
Despite any law not requiring disclosure however, disclosing that a house has a haunted history may be the most prudent course of action. It’s surely something many buyers would like to know beforehand. If a seller doesn’t disclose, and the buyers find out about the property’s history prior to the closing, there’s a chance they would try to get out of the deal. There is a well-publicized case out of New York in the 1990s where a court allowed a buyer to terminate a real estate deal due to the failure to disclose “haunted” activity.
In Missouri by law, only material facts must be disclosed, structural defects, leaky basement, for example. Stigmatized homes; deaths, hauntings do not legally have to be disclosed. It puts the seller at a disadvantage to do so. Buyer beware! If that is an issue for you, then inspect at your own expense
As I always recommend in this digital era, an easy way to determine whether a house is truly “haunted” is to Google the property address and see what comes up. If there was a murder or suicide, it should reveal itself. Also, talk to the neighbors. They will surely know the property’s history. If all else fails, of course you can always hire Ghostbusters. Happy house “haunting”!
Interested in Buying or Selling Real Estate in Saint Louis? Call the Alexander Team Today to being to process.
Phyllis 314-580-3100 Jeff 314-580-3800 Holli 314-913-1699
Just wanting to house shop online? No Problem, we have the best home search tool St. Louis offers click—–> www.AskHolliD.com