Posts Tagged ‘homes’

  • And the question is?

    Haven’t played Jeopardy in a while or watched it on TV. But I always thought that the premise was a good one. Give someone the answer and see if they can come up with the right question.  It occurred to me that I am usually walking around with what I think are  all the right answers to all kinds of questions. I guess  I might now recognize that I am somewhat pretentious in my conclusion.  I guess I need your help. How about I give you some answers and you give me what you think are the right questions. Hopefully, I can learn something with you and become a better agent.

    You know, years ago when I first got into the Real Estate business, I had a Broker who told me “Sam, you don’t sell real estate, you solve people’s problems”. That’s stuck with me and I think I have done a pretty good job in asking the right questions to solve those problems. But I think its time to get the customer’s take on this and get you to ask some questions. Anyway, lets see where we go with this and work together. I’ll give you the answer. You let me know what the questions should be. I’ll look at your questions and post them later to get some other folks to chime in if they think you are right wron.  Let me give you an example. 3.5% down payment  is the answer. The question might be,” What is an FHA mortgage ? ” Okay, lets give it a try.

    1.  Seller Assist is the answer. What is the question? This is the format which I won’t repeat every time. You’ll get the drift.
    2. No down payment required
    3. 28%/36%
    4. Buyer’s Agent
    5. Seller’s Agent
    6. Multiple Listing Service
    7. Escrow
    8. Radon Gas
    9. Short Sale
    10. Transunion, Experian, Equifax
    11. Title Insurance
    12.Prepaid Items
    13. 2 years worth of tax returns
    14. A real estate agent
    15. Purchase offer

    Okay, that’s enough for now. Give it a shot. Either comment below with your questions or email me if you like. The more I think about it there can be several different questions for the answers. In addition here is  a podcast that will explain how one might go about purchasing a multi family home where you can  live in and collect rent to help pay for your mortgage. If you would like to pursue that let me know. It can be challenging , but it can  be the start of a pretty good investment portfolio.

    Contact me at 610-737-2310 or email me at Appreciate it.

  • Spring Market brings confidence, I think.

    Business Handshake


    I’m not one who just takes recent economic news as gospel. But having said that, it does look like we are moving forward with a better housing market. Just take a look at this recent post by Don DeZube of the National Association of Realtors.  Spring Market. You have to admit its pretty positive.  The increases are slight but are running ahead of  last year. The office that I manage is up about 6% over last year. That includes all categories: average sale price, less time on the market, list price of homes, total volume sold and total listing volume.

    If there is one problem, it’s that we do not have enough good salable properties on the market. The buyer demand is there and we find ourselves in multiple offer situations. The sellers are happy but the buyers are not. One  cause for the shortage certainly can be attributed in part to  thousands of properties still”underwater”, that is, the owners owe more than the house is worth. Banks are slow in approving possible short sales. Also the Feds have not extended the “debt forgiveness ” provision that allowed sellers to escape the tax consequences of such a sale. There is also some implication  that lenders are holding back millions of stalled foreclosures from the market in the hope that  rising prices will allow the lenders to recoup a larger return of dollars at the “Sheriff Sale”. Who knows…Plus under the new QM rules (Qualified Mortgage), underwriting guidelines are making it  much harder for the average home purchaser to qualify for a mortgage.

    Man Scratching Head


    Lenders are trying to address the above issues by loosing up certain underwriting criteria. Credit scores of 620 and in some cases 550 will get you into a home.  The fact that mortgage applications for all types of  loans are off in some cases 60% from last year might be one reason that lenders are looking for business with less than a truant officer’s mentality. If they don’t lend it, they are not going to make it. Not rocket science.

    Here is an explanation to help you better understand the “QM” rules.

    One last thing that I have mentioned  several times. If you are in financial trouble, wondering about whether you can stay in your home because you are behind in your mortgage, are considering bankruptcy or in a reverse mortgage and you have any questions, please give me a call. Don’t do anything drastic until you have a chance to talk to a  professional. I can recommend several that can help. Call me at 6107372310. No obligation.


  • 50% HUD Homes Discount

    Here’s a program that needs some awareness. Pretty neat.

    Give me a call or email me and I’ll send you a list of homes that meet the requirements.

    Law enforcement officers, pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade teachers and firefighters/emergency medical technicians can become homeowners through HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door Sales Program. HUD offers a substantial incentive in the form of a discount of 50% from the list price of the home.  In return you must commit to live in the property for 36 months as your sole residence.


    How the Program Works


    Eligible Single Family homes located in revitalization areas are listed exclusively for sales through the Good Neighbor Next Door Sales program. Properties are available for purchase through the program for five days.


    How to Participate in Good Neighbor Next Door


    Check the listings at for your state. Follow the instructions to submit your interest in purchasing a specific home. If more than one person submits on a single home a selection will be made by random lottery. You must meet the requirements for a law enforcement officer, teacher, firefighter or emergency medical technician and comply with HUD’s regulations for the program.

    HUD requires that you sign a second mortgage and note for the discount amount. No interest or payments are required on this “silent second” provided that you fulfill the three-year occupancy requirement.

    The number of properties available is limited and the list of available properties changes weekly.

    Good Neighbor Next Door FAQs


    Q: What Is the Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) Sales Program?


    A: HUD wants to strengthen America’s communities. The Good Neighbor Next Door Program offers HUD owned single family (one-unit) homes to eligible participants at a 50% discount.


    Q: Am I Eligible for the GNND Sales Program?


    A: Law enforcement officers, teachers and firefighters/emergency medical technicians and who meet all other requirements of the program are eligible to purchase an available home.


    Q: How Much of a Discount Can I Get on a HUD Home?


    A: You can get a 50 percent discount off the HUD appraised value. For example, if HUD lists a home at $100,000, you can buy it for $50,000 provided, you occupy the home as your personal residence for the required occupancy period. If you qualify for any FHA-insured mortgage program, your downpayment is only $100 and you may finance closing costs.


    Q: What Kind of Mortgage Financing Do I Need?


    A: You may use FHA, VA, or conventional mortgages, or cash. HUD requires you to sign a Second Mortgage and Note on the discounted amount (which is $50,000 in the example above). No interest or payments are required on this “silent second” mortgage if you live in the home for the entire 36 month occupancy period. You may be required to pay a pro-rata portion of the discount to HUD should you fail to fulfill the three year occupancy requirement.


    Q:  What is the Occupancy Period?


    A: You must live in the home as your sole residence for a full 36 months. The purpose of the program is to strengthen communities by encouraging employed, professional law enforcement officers, teachers and firefighters/emergency medical technicians to live in the community. You will have 30, 90 or 180 days to move into the home you purchase, depending on HUD’s determination of the condition of the home and the level of repairs that may be required, if any. The 30th, 90th or 180th day is the start date for the occupancy period. Your are released from all obligations under this program at the end of the 36th month following the start date. HUD views the occupancy obligation seriously and vigorously pursues violators to the fullest extent of the law.


    Q:  What Is an FHA Rehabilitation Mortgage and How Can It Help Me Buy a HUD Home?


    A:  The FHA 203(k) mortgage program helps homebuyers buy a home and have enough money to rehabilitate or repair it. Repairs must cost more than $5,000. The cost of the repairs and the mortgage are combined into a single monthly payment. Consider FHA?s 203(b) program if needed repairs are under $5,000. FHA also has a new Streamlined 203(k) program which may be useful. Discuss these financing options with your lender!



    Q:  Can I Sell the GNND Home after 3-years and Keep the Profit?


    A:  Yes. After you live in the GNND home 3 years, you can sell the home and keep any equity and/or appreciation.


    Q:  Do I Have to Use a Real Estate Broker or Agent to Buy a GNND Home?


    A:   Yes.


    Q:  Do I Have to Be a First Time Homebuyer to Take Advantage of the Program?


    A:  No. However, you may not own any other residential real property at the time you submit your offer to purchase a home and for one year previous to that date. For example, if you submit an offer to purchase a home on August 1, 2007, you may not have owned a home during the period from July 31, 2006.


    Q:  Where Are These Homes Located?


    A:  The HUD homes are located in designated Revitalization Areas. There are hundreds of Revitalization Areas located in the United States.


    Q:  Does HUD Provide a Home Warranty?

    A:  No. All GNND homes are sold “as is,” without any kind of warranty. You may hire a home inspector, however.


    Q:   Can I Buy Multiple Unit Properties (E.g., Duplexes, Triplexes, Etc.) through the Officer Next Door Program?


    A:  No. You can only buy single unit homes, townhouses, and condominiums through the GNND Program.


    Q:  Do I Have to Pay Earnest Money or Other Deposits in Order to Submit a Contract for a GNND Home?


    A:  Yes. The amount of the earnest money deposit required is an amount equal to one percent of the list price, but no less than $500 and no more than $2,000. HUD considers all offers to be a commitment to purchase a home if you are awarded the sale. Therefore, please carefully consider your offer and be aware of HUD’s policy on earnest money as stated here: If an offer is accepted, the earnest money deposit will be credited to the purchaser at closing. If the offer is rejected, the earnest money deposit will be returned. Earnest money deposits are subject to total forfeiture for failure of the participant to close a sale.


    Q:  Can I Bargain with HUD on the Price of a GNND Property?


    A:   No. You must offer the exact HUD list price when bidding on any GNND property. Then you get a 50 percent discount off of that list price.


    Q:  What if I Leave the employment, that made me eligible, for Any Reason, during the Mandatory 3-year Residency Period?


    A:  Nothing happens, but you must continue to live in the home for the full 36-month mandatory occupancy period. If you move out of the GNND home, you will have to repay HUD on a prorated schedule. In addition, you must certify that it is your good faith intention to remain employed as a law enforcement officer, teacher or firefighter/emergency medical technician for one year beginning with your purchase. Do no attempt to participate in the program if you know in advance that you will not be employed as required for at least one year.


    Q:  Some Agencies Have Other Homebuying Programs. Can the GNND Program Work in Conjunction with These?


    A:  Yes, as long as you can meet all the GNND program rules while participating in these other programs.


    Q:  What Happens if a Participant Fails to Honor the 3-year Occupancy Requirement?


    A:  HUD can demand repayment of the discounted amount on a prorated basis. That means you would have to repay 1/36th of the discount you received for each month that you did not occupy the home. HUD also may initiate administrative sanctions including, but not limited to, barring the officer from participating in any HUD/FHA programs, as well as other federal programs. In any case of fraud or abuse, HUD will refer the case to HUD’s Office of the Inspector General for investigation and possible criminal prosecution. HUD may also notify the officer’s employing agency. Criminal prosecution and conviction for fraud and abuse concerning the GNND Program can result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or two years in federal prison.


    Q:  How Does HUD Enforce the 3-year Residency Requirement?


    A:  The participant must certify he or she is living in the GNND home as a sole residence at the time of purchase and each year after that. HUD can conduct spot checks to make sure the GNND home is your sole residence at any time during the 3-year period. You also must sign a note and mortgage for the discount amount. HUD may foreclose this mortgage if you do not comply with the 36-month occupancy requirement

    Don’t forget if  you have any questions contact me using the info on  the right sidebar.


  • 12 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

    12 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

    Prepared by Insurance Information Institute

    Presented as a public service by Salvatore Ruta and Choice Properties

    The price you pay for your homeowners insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here are some things to consider when buying homeowners insurance.
    1. Shop Around.It’ll take some time, but could save you a good sum of money. Ask your friends, check the Yellow Pages or contact your state insurance department. (Phone numbers and Web sites are listed here.) National Association of Insurance Commissioners ( has information to help you choose an insurer in your state, including complaints. States often make information available on typical rates charged by major insurers and many states provide the frequency of consumer complaints by company.Also check consumer guides, insurance agents, companies and online insurance quote services. This will give you an idea of price ranges and tell you which companies have the lowest prices. But don’t consider price alone. The insurer you select should offer a fair price and deliver the quality service you would expect if you needed assistance in filing a claim. So in assessing service quality, use the complaint information cited above and talk to a number of insurers to get a feeling for the type of service they give. Ask them what they would do to lower your costs.Check the financial stability of the companies you are considering with rating companies such as A.M. Best ( and Standard & Poor’s ( and consult consumer magazines. When you’ve narrowed the field to three insurers, get price quotes.2. Raise Your Deductible.Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim, according to the terms of your policy. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums. Nowadays, most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent. Remember, if you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage. If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible; if you live in a state vulnerable to hail storms, you may have a separate deductible for hail; and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy has a deductible.3. Dont confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs.The land under your house isn’t at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don’t include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. If you do, you will pay a higher premium than you should.4. Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer.

    Some companies that sell homeowners, auto and liability coverage will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. But make certain this combined price is lower than buying the different coverages from different companies.

    5. Make your home more disaster resistant.

    Find out from your insurance agent or company representative what steps you can take to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.

    6. Improve your home security.

    You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations. These systems aren’t cheap and not every system qualifies for a discount. Before you buy such a system, find out what kind your insurer recommends, how much the device would cost and how much you’d save on premiums.

    7. Seek out other discounts.

    Companies offer several types of discounts, but they don’t all offer the same discount or the same amount of discount in all states. For example, since retired people stay at home more than working people they are less likely to be burglarized and may spot fires sooner, too. Retired people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies. Some employers and professional associations administer group insurance programs that may offer a better deal than you can get elsewhere.

    8. Maintain a good credit record.

    Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Insurers are increasingly using credit information to price homeowners insurance policies. In most states, your insurer must advise you of any adverse action, such as a higher rate, at which time you should verify the accuracy of the information on which the insurer relied. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis and have any errors corrected promptly so that your record remains accurate.

    9. Stay with the same insurer.

    If you’ve kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive a special discount for being a long-term policyholder. Some insurers will reduce their premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. But make certain to periodically compare this price with that of other policies.

    10. Review the limits in your policy and the value of your possessions at least once a year.

    You want your policy to cover any major purchases or additions to your home. But you don’t want to spend money for coverage you don’t need. If your five-year-old fur coat is no longer worth the $5,000 you paid for it, you’ll want to reduce or cancel your floater (extra insurance for items whose full value is not covered by standard homeowners policies such as expensive jewelry, high-end computers and valuable art work) and pocket the difference.

    11. Look for private insurance if you are in a government plan.

    If you live in a high-risk area — say, one that is especially vulnerable to coastal storms, fires, or crime — and have been buying your homeowners insurance through a government plan, you should check with an insurance agent or company representative or contact your state department of insurance for the names of companies that might be interested in your business. You may find that there are steps you can take that would allow you to buy insurance at a lower price in the private market.

    12. When youre buying a home, consider the cost of homeowners insurance.

    You may pay less for insurance if you buy a house close to a fire hydrant or in a community that has a professional rather than a volunteer fire department. It may also be cheaper if your home’s electrical, heating and plumbing systems are less than 10 years old. If you live in the East, consider a brick home because it’s more wind resistant. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, look for a wooden frame house because it is more likely to withstand this type of disaster. Choosing wisely could cut your premiums by 5 to 15 percent.

    Check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are thinking of buying. These reports contain the insurance claim history of the property and can help you judge some of the problems the house may have.

    Remember that flood insurance and earthquake damage are not covered by a standard homeowners policy. If you buy a house in a flood-prone area, you’ll have to pay for a flood insurance policy that costs an average of $400 a year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides useful information on flood insurance on its Web site at A separate earthquake policy is available from most insurance companies. The cost of the coverage will depend on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area. In California the California Earthquake Authority ( provides this coverage.

    If you have questions about insurance for any of your possessions, be sure to ask your agent or company representative when you’re shopping around for a policy. For example, if you run a business out of your home, be sure to discuss coverage for that business. Most homeowners policies cover business equipment in the home, but only up to $2,500 and they offer no business liability insurance. Although you want to lower your homeowners insurance cost, you also want to make certain you have all the coverage you need.

  • Tips in using Social Media to Buy or Sell anything and maybe your Home.

    There has been a lot written this past year on the benefits of using Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) to benefit the consumer as well as marketing and promoting one’s business. I think I am as smart as the next guy or maybe as ignorant, but I have to say that I have been overwhelmed with the opportunities that make themselves available  for one to utilize these venues. It seems like  I just get a handle on one and then something else comes along. Exciting but frustrating. I think that age has something to do with it because I  have watched in awe as my 3 year old granddaughter turned on her mother’s I Pad and began to open up game applications and move around with considerable ease. That kid slays me. If you are grandparent you know what I am talking about. She’s so smart!

    Well I think I have somewhat of a handle on this. I have a Facebook page,  personal, as well as business. I am LinkedIn and I occasionally will  Twitter. My following leaves a lot to be desired both incoming and outgoing but that will grow as my desire to use it does. And of course I am now blogging. I have to say of all the things that I do,  I enjoy blogging the best. You get my opinion and advice and if you don’t agree you can let me know.

    Well when it comes to finding or selling a home, social medial has taken its place in the pyramid of necessity.  Tell the world  you  have what they need. And if you need something that they have, then you better get on line,not in line. Oh and let’s not forget You Tube. You know I just read something somewhere that it won’t be long before Facebook and You Tube will be bigger search engines than Google. Well think about it, do you want to know how to install a ceiling fan, bake a chocolate cake  or see an old episode of  ” The Honeymooners” ? Internet man.  And if you need a recommendation on anything  why not ask any of your 1000 friends on Facebook. That would include buying or selling a house and finding an agent to represent you. Here is  a quickie podcast that will  give you some tips on how best to go about your search.

    [audio:|titles=Using Social Media]

    I hope that information was helpful but if you have some additional questions please feel free to contact me at my email at or call me at 610-737-2310. I’ll be glad to help. Next blog we’ll take a look at the “Dark
    Side” of using the internet . Watch for it in a couple of days. Check the link on the right for finding a home in the Lehigh Valley or the link for anywhere in the US. I’ll be glad to put you in contact with anyone from Jersey to Hawaii.


  • 5 Insider secrets you need to know before you buy a HUD home

    Probably nothing gets me more questions today than the topic of  buying a HUD Home. Here are some quick answers that will help you begin the process of searching out that dream owner occupied or investor owned home.  Any other questions give me a call or e mail me at

    How can I get the most up-to-date HUD Homes listings and find out when new properties come on the market ?

     A new HUD Homes superstore site is the centerpiece of HUD’s new REO program. is a one-stop platform containing everything agents and consumers need to know about the HUD REO sales program:


    • ·         HUD property information;
    • ·         Property disclosures and addenda;
    • ·         Real estate and consumer registration features;
    • ·         Interactive maps on home page, special programs pages, and property detail pages;
    • ·         Resources and contact information for real estate agents and brokers, consumers, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations.
    • ·         Consumers can sign up for property alerts and find out when new HUD homes come on the market.



    How do I find a real estate agent who knows about HUD Homes?

     The best place to find a good agent for HUD Homes is right here! That’s why I prepared this report – we aim to help educate buyers about the ins and outs of the HUD Homes sales process. HUD Homes have their own special contracts and their own rules and procedures.

     Not all real estate agents are permitted to sell HUD Homes. Licensed real estate brokers and agents must be registered with HUD prior to submitting bids for HUD Homes.We must renew our application every year to continue to sell HUD Homes.

     HUD Homes are listed in the local multiple listing service. Consumers often have the mistaken impression that any Realtor who is a member of the multiple listing service can sell them a HUD Home. That is not true.






    How can I tell if I am eligible to buy a HUD Home?

     Anyone can purchase a HUD Home who has the financial ability to complete the transaction and meets other criteria. HUD Home Buyers fall into several general categories:

     Owner Occupants have first priority in the bidding process. Owner occupants are purchasers who will live in the home for at least 12 months as a primary residence.

     Investor buyers can purchase HUD Homes during certain bidding periods  following a period of time restricted to owner occupants when no acceptable bids were received at HUD.

     Nonprofits and government agencies have special opportunities for “First Look” at HUD Homes when they come on the market.

     Police officers, firefighters, EMTs and teachers are eligible for 50% on select HUD Homes if they meet certain qualifications in HUD’s Good Neighbor Next Door Program.




    Many HUD Homes need repair. Can I include the cost of repairs in my mortgage?

     One of the most wonderful things about buying a HUD Home is financing flexbillity with FHA financing.


    Most HUD Homes are available with FHA financing. When repairs are necessary there is a special type of financing for that – FHA 203(k). You can include almost any kind of repair using FHA 203(k) financing – roofing, flooring, kitchen and bath remodeling, new appliances, heating systems, windows, and more!

     HUD pulls out all the stops to make it easy for you to get into the house of your dreams.

     You can use any lender you wish. Just be sure your lender finances HUD Homes. FHA lenders are usually the best bet for owner occupant borrowers.




    Why do I have to wait a month before I bid on a HUD Home just because I am investor?

     HUD wants to provide homeownership opportunities and stabilize neighborhoods. HUD believes that owner occupied housing is a stabilizing force in neighborhoods.

     Investors have many opportunities to purchase HUD Homes. They become available when the owner occupant bidding period expires and they come on the market regularly when contracts fall apart and properties are re-listed for sale at


    Seasoned investors who work in the HUD Homes market watch their dates closely and time their bids at the appropriate hour. In a sense, it’s like biddin on eBay following an extended bidding period.

    So what are your waiting for? With interest rates at all time lows and with tons of inventory. Better get moving.