Donna Coffin - ERA Key Realty Services - Distinctive Group



Posted by Donna Coffin on 7/22/2016

Buying a home can be very confusing and not to mention the new terms you need to know. This is especially true when it comes to navigating the mortgage process. One important term to understand is the Good Faith Estimate. The Good Faith Estimate or GFE is a government-mandated form mortgage brokers and lenders are required to give prospective borrowers within three days of a loan application. The GFE summarizes the terms of the loan. It can be used to compare loan offers from the same or different lenders. An approximation of the final figure of the loan costs are on the GFE and must be as accurate as possible, it is important to note that some GFE can have a 10 percent tolerance. The top two sections on Page 1 provide a summary of the loan terms and estimated settlement charges. There is also a section the covers when the GFE expires and whether the interest rate is locked or floating. You will want to go over the GFE closely; it will disclose the initial loan amount, interest rate, monthly payment and loan terms. Remember that the payment includes principal, interest and mortgage insurance, if any, but not property taxes or homeowners insurance. You can find a Guide To The Good Faith Estimate by clicking here.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 12/12/2014

There is a lot to know when it comes to senior housing. Thinking about future housing arrangements can be a stressful topic for both you and your family. There are so many options, types of housing and so much to know. In order to find the best fit you will have to learn about the different types of senior housing available, which choices may be best for you, and how to navigate the terminology. A great resource SeniorHousingNet has created a glossary of commonly used terms and the different senior housing and care choices available. You can find it here.  





Posted by Donna Coffin on 6/27/2014

Buying a home can be a scary and confusing process. It is easy to get confused by all of the homes, locations, and what is truly important to you when buying a home. First you will want to determine what you can afford. To do that you will want to get preapproved. That means a bank; mortgage broker or credit union will determine how much of loan you qualify for based on your income, debt and credit score. They will give a pre-approval letter stating how much you can afford. Now it is time to pick a real estate professional to help you find the right home, negotiate on your behalf and help you navigate through the process. It is important that you choose an agent that is reputable; you have interviewed to find a good fit and is willing to listen to your needs. Many buyers often confuse their needs with their wants. Making a list of what you actually need and what you want or your wish list is very helpful when looking for a home. Buying a home is typically a process of elimination. Many home buyers often dismiss homes that perfectly fit their needs in search for one that has their wants. This doesn’t mean you can have your wish list, but home buying is more often defined by your budget than wish lists. To help with this process it is typically helpful to make a list of needs and wants.

Examples of NEEDS Examples of WANTS
Reasonable square footage for comfortable living Paint, carpet, counter tops, accessories.
Bedrooms to accommodate your family Pool or Jacuzzi (unless for medical reasons)
Adequate number of bathrooms Wood floors
Eat-in kitchen Bay windows, skylights
Garage or basement for storage needs Entertainment centers,  moldings, decks and patios
Lot size to accommodate children's play area Upgraded lighting fixtures
Adaptation for Handicapped View
Proximity to a specific school
Single floor living for health reasons
Each individual will have a different list of needs and wants. Your own list will help you evaluate homes as you go through the process. Sharing this list with your real estate professional will also help narrow down your search. The goal is to find a house that includes all of your needs and meets as many of your wants as is practical in your budget.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 5/30/2014

It is a great time to be a real-estate investor. If you are looking to jump in the investor market low home prices and low interest rates make this a great time. According to Zillow.com. the real-estate market is starting to recover: U.S. houses lost $489 billion in value during the first 11 months of 2009, but that was significantly lower than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008 and things only continue to look up. While the timing may be right, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. An investment purchase is different than your typical purchase. Consider your options. Have a strategy and know what kind of investor you would like to be. Ask yourself if you want to be a landlord, or are you planning on flipping or restoring and reselling properties. What types of properties are you interested in? There are many choices from land, to apartment buildings, residential housing and other commercial real estate. Partner with experience. Real estate agents experienced in investment property deals know what to look for in a deal. You may also want to consider asking a more experienced real-estate investor for advice. If you plan on becoming a landlord make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding being a landlord. Location, location, location. If you buy a property with hopes of renting it out, location is key. Homes in high-rent or highly populated areas are ideal; stay away from rural areas where there are fewer people and a small pool of potential renters. Also, look for homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in neighborhoods that have a low crime rate. Also think about potential selling points for your property. If it's near public transportation, shopping malls or other amenities, it will attract renters, as well as potential buyers if you decide to sell later. The more you have to offer, the more likely you are to please potential renters. Have capital lined up. Speak to potential lenders or a financial planner about what you will need for assets and cash flow. You will need to have enough assets to handle the ups and downs that could come with investing. Most experts suggest a fallback of about six months of mortgage payments for landlords. You will need this in case or vacancy or repairs. If you're planning to fix up a home and sell it, you will need reserves to cover the costs to maintain the home while it is on the market. Becoming a real-estate investor is much different than being a residential homebuyer. A buying decision is a business decision not one based on emotions.





Posted by Donna Coffin on 10/11/2013

Could condo living be for you? For many condominium living can be an attractive alternative to a single family home. The price per square foot of a condo is often less than a single family home. Before you make the leap to condo living make sure to do your homework to see if it truly is the best choice for you. Here is a checklist of a few things you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  • Condominiums have monthly maintenance fees.
  • Check with the condominium association to see what the annual increase in the monthly maintenance fee has been for the past few years.
  • What is the percentage of residents are current with their monthly association payments. Look for about ninety-seven percent of the development's residents to be current with their monthly payments.
  • What percentage of the association fees are dedicated to a reserve fund. A good number would be at least 10 percent of the association's annual budget.
  • What are the condition of the condo's roof and major mechanical systems? When were they last replaced or repaired. When the condo requires big upgrades, costly "special assessment" fees are passed on to the homeowners.
Most importantly try and talk to some of the residents. They can be your most valuable resource for learning about the development's pros and cons of the condominium development.