Intermediate Information: November 2007 Archives
I bought a condo in DELETED, CA. Zero down. For 7 months I paid every bill on time - mortgages, HOA and taxes until... The Homeowner's Association told us that we MUST pay a $20.500 special assessment.
My realtor had told me nothing about possible coming special assessment. I lived from paycheck to paycheck and had to leave the property.
I didn't pay ANY bills until my property was foreclosed. Today, AFTER ONE YEAR it was foreclosed, I received a letter. They say that I owe "prior the date when the property was foreclosed... delinquent in payment of the assessments, late charges..." $24.773.08
I can agree that I owe HOA monthly payments until the property was foreclosed but special assessment?
With a delay of seven months, I consider it unlikely (although possible) that the assessment was proposed prior to your purchase. It's usually no more than three months from proposal to assessment.
Usually, special assessments of that magnitude are not required to be paid immediately in one lump sum, but rather eligible for payments of so much per month over so many months. However the condo association has the right to levy assessments for repairs and required maintenance. This is part of owning communal or common interest property. Your assessment was larger than most, but the Association does have that right to make those assessments. It's in the CC&Rs, which you had to accept in buying the property - the former owner did not have the right of severing the unit from the association, and neither does the current owner. Usually assessments are recommended to the board by the management company, approved by the board (itself elected by the owners) and confirmed by vote of the owners. You most likely got a ballot in the mail. Whatever you did with yours, a majority of a quorum of owners in your complex voted in favor of the assessment. They need to keep records of all of this - board minutes, ballots mailed, ballots returned and how they voted. My guess is there were pretty good reasons the other homeowners voted for such a large assessment, and unless there's something wrong with how it was conducted, it's a valid lien on your property. If something was concealed from you, it would be in the records of the association.
I doubt you were bamboozled by an already approved assessment. In California, you're required to receive what's called a "condo certification," from the HOA within seven days of the accepted offer. Among other things, that condo certification will show special assessments, whether under consideration or already approved. Furthermore, every single regulated lender in the known world is going to require that condo cert in order to fund the loan, and if there are special assessments known, they will require that you qualify at the increased rate of payment. So I'm betting you got one.
This was a buried problem, and the only way to ferret it out for certain is asking members of the board point blank about any deferred maintenance issues, but sometimes things like this can take an association by surprise. For example: fires, burst pipes, etcetera. A condo inspection only looks at your unit, not all of the others. Alternatively, you've got to walk the entire property looking for problems, and hope it's not hidden inside a something where there's no way to know it's there. One final way that might spot problems is in looking at the level of association reserves in the condo cert. it takes a good buyer's agent to ferret it out before a sale, and an even better one to tell you about it. Most of this stuff isn't part of basic due diligence, and telling you about it is a noteworthy example of "no good deed goes unpunished," because it's going to mess up the transaction, and most clients will kill the messenger by not working with you on their next offer. If you didn't have a buyer's agent, you were all on your own, because that listing agent certainly isn't going to investigate in the first place and get their client angry. There's a reason why Dual Agency is a sucker's game from the buyer's perspective. Well, actually there are hundreds of reasons why, but this is one of them.
It appears that you were the owner of record at the time the assessment was made. It may be payable in payments, but the full amount is due from the owner of record as of the day of the assessment. It's an all or nothing thing. It wouldn't matter if you were two days from buying it - the seller would have to pay it in order to deliver clear title, while you would not be obligated, although if the owner didn't pay it and clear the title, it's unlikely the transaction would proceed. If you were two days from selling it, same story. You would have to pay in order to deliver clear title, as required by the purchase contract, and the buyer would have the right to expect that you would do so, and the title company would refuse to insure the property until you did so, so the transaction would not happen without that assessment being paid. If you had bought it the day before the assessment became effective, well, you would have been informed by the condo certification, but it would be attached to you. You owe this money. The fact that you are no longer the owner as of this moment is irrelevant. Nor does default wipe it out, in general.
The homeowner's association has the right to assess the individual owners for needed repairs and maintenance. Indeed, they have a duty to do so in order to preserve the value and marketability of the property. What this person did was pretty darned silly, but done is done and there are no do-overs in real life. The board and owners don't make assessments gratuitously, because they're also assessing themselves, and every last one of them had to pay that $20,500, the same money this guy would have paid. Twice that, if they own two units. I may wonder what caused a large assessment unforseeably, and consider it likely that a good buyer's agent would have caught some deferred maintenance issues, but the cold hard fact is that he owned the property on the date of the assessment, and he therefore owes the association that money. He needs to talk to a lawyer if he wants to get out of it, but I don't know anything except bankruptcy that might do the trick, and that's only likely to reduce the damage, not wipe it out, and bankruptcy on top of a foreclosure is very bad juju for your credit rating. It could cost him five times as much as the actual money he'd save by not having to pay off the debt in full.
I was looking through some real estate listings and saw one property described as: "Contractor's special, first time buyers and investors. House needs TLC." Does contractor's special mean u better be a contractor if you wanna buy this place?
It means it needs some serious rehab work, but it's priced too high for you to make a profit paying to have it done, so the people they're trying to attract are people who are inexperienced home repair folk who don't realize what their time is worth, and won't realize how much time and money and dirt and sweat and just plain hassle that living with the problem and getting it fixed is going to entail.
In point of fact, it's an uncommon "contractor's special" that isn't overpriced. We're not talking about just carpet and paint here. We're talking some major league repairs. Foundation breaks. Significant settling damage. Plumbing that's broken and leaking water. Mold in the framing (which will usually spread). Wiring that's a fire hazard. The list goes on, but they've all got one thing in common: You're dealing with stuff that adversely influences the habitability of the property. Without those repairs, you're not going to get reasonable enjoyment out of the property. It fails the most essential test of inhabitability for a property: The ability to live the same kind of lifestyle in that property, as the rest of the country does in theirs, and to do so for the foreseeable future.
Martha Stewart notwithstanding, you can live with stained carpet. Whatever you read in Better Homes and Gardens, you can live with spots on your walls, or even holes in the drywall. It's possible to live with both old and ugly, if you get get electricity and hot and cold running water when you need them, and the house isn't falling to pieces around you. You can't really live if every time you plug something in or turn something on, there's a significant chance your property will burn down around your family's ears. You can't live if hot water is leaking out and eroding your foundation support, as well as keeping you from taking hot showers. You're not going to live indefinitely with a foundation break - sooner or later, it'll either rip the house apart or tear it apart.
Such properties aren't a residence at all, when you really think about it. I'd sooner put your average family of four into a one bedroom apartment than a "contractor's special." Sure you got a low price - on a property you can't use. Kind of like getting a deal on dog vomit. It begs the question not only of why you'd pay for it, but why you'd want dog vomit at all. Me, on those rare occasions when one or another of my best four-legged friends has lost their dinner, I'd willingly pay someone who offered a certain amount of money to get rid of it for me.
This kind of property can be an opportunity, IF you really know what you're doing, and IF it's priced correctly so that you can do the work and make a profit, and that includes some significant cash for being the one to deal with it. But it's no coincidence that the serial decorators who line up to replace bad carpet and paint ugly walls give "contractor's specials" a wide berth. The work that needs doing is far too expensive to be "worth it" - at least at the levels "contractor's specials" are usually priced. The most recent one I was in, a four bedroom place not very far from my office, was priced about $20,000 below what would have been appropriate for a turn-key property in the area - and it needed roughly $60,000 worth of work that I saw. For a forty year old 1600 square foot house, with position issues, floor plan issues, and not a single surface in the entire property that presents well. A more appropriate price would have been land less demolition and haul away. Which is about what it's going to go for - once the owners price it somewhere in the appropriate ballpark. Oh, I can fight the battle and often even win a signed purchase contract for the correct amount - but it's a lot more effort that finding someone who at least is willing to admit the realities of the situation up front. Sometimes, I'll see if I can get a client the property is appropriate for to make a test offer, just to see if the sellers and their agents are willing to admit the obvious truth. If not, we move on.
What the owners are really hoping for, of course, is someone who only sees only the relatively cheap price, but not the cost, in all senses of the word, of the work that's necessary to have a useful property once they own it. But this kind of cheap is no bargain. I've said it in the past, but Know What Can Be Fixed and What Can't, What's Profitable and What Isn't, which is only one of hundreds of reasons why You need a buyer's agent, whose job is to bring up all of these not so minor concerns that owners and listing agents would rather buyers didn't understand, because it means they get more of that buyer's money.
I just got a google search where the question asked was "What if the mortgage is recorded in the wrong county?"
I've never actually seen this (and San Diego County, once upon a time, included what is now Riverside, Imperial and San Bernardino counties), but if it's the mortgage on your loan, no big deal. You should get a copy of the recorded trust deed, and the county recorder's stamp should tell you the county it was recorded in. You probably want to record it in your own county, as when the document is scanned in both recorder's stamps will appear, thus making it obvious that these two documents are one and the same. There may be better ways to deal with it. Since the error was (everywhere I've ever worked) your title company's, they should be willing to repair it to eliminate the cloud on your title. If and when you refinance this loan or sell the property, make sure that the Reconveyance is recorded in both counties, and references both recordings.
More dangerous is the issue of what if it's the previous owner's loan that was wrongly recorded. The previous owner is obviously no longer making payments on the property. The lender may or may not have been paid off properly; if they were there may not be any difficulties. It could just disappear into some metaphorical black hole of things that weren't done right and were never corrected, but just don't matter because everybody's happy and nobody does anything to rock the boat. However, unlike black holes in astronomy, things do come back out of these sorts of black holes.
However, if the previous lender was not paid off correctly, or if they were paid but something causes it to not process correctly, they've got a claim on your property, and because the usual title search that is done is county-based, it won't show up in a regular title search. Let's face it, property in County A usually stays right where it's always been, in County A. There is no reason except error for it to be recorded in County B. Therefore, the title company almost certainly would not catch it when they did a search for documents affecting the property in County A; it would be a rare and lucky title examiner who caught it.
In some states, they still don't use title insurance, merely attorneys examining the state of title. When the previous owner's lender sues you, you're going to have to turn around and sue that attorney who did your title examination for negligence, who is then going to have to turn around and sue whoever recorded the documents wrong. If it's a small attorney's office and they've since gone out of business, best of luck and let me know how it all turns out, but the sharks are going to be circling for years on this one, and the only sure winners are the lawyers.
In most states, however, the concept of title insurance has become de rigeur. Here in California, lenders don't lend the money without a valid policy of title insurance involved.
Let's stop here for a moment and clarify a few things. When we're talking about title insurance, there are, in general, two separate title insurance policies in effect. When you bought the property, you required the previous owner to buy you a policy of title insurance as an assurance that they were the actual owners. By and large, it can only be purchased at the same time you purchase your property. This policy remains in effect as long as you or your heirs own the property. The first Title Company, which became Commonwealth Land Title (now part of LandAmerica), was started in 1876, and there are likely insured properties from the 19th century still covered. If you don't know who your title insurance company is, you should. Most places, the company and the order of title insurance are on the grant deed.
The other policy of title insurance is a lender's policy of title insurance. This insures your lender against loss on that particular loan due to title defects, and when the loan is paid off (either because the property is sold, refinanced, or that rare property where the people now own it free and clear), it's over and done with. Let's face it, most people are not going to continue to make payments if they lose the property. If you take out a new loan, your new lender will require a new policy of title insurance. You pay but they are the ones insured by the policy.
To get back to the situation, what happens when you order title insurance is that a searcher and/or an examiner go out and find all of the documents they can find that are relevant to the title of the property. These days, they typically perform an automated search, and sometimes documents are indexed and cross referenced incorrectly and therefore they do not show up when they should. Nonetheless, the title company takes this list of documents and tells you about known issues with the title, and then basically says "We will sell you a policy of title insurance that covers everything else." This document is variously known as a Preliminary Report, PR, or Commitment.
Now it shouldn't take a genius to figure out why you want a policy of title insurance. Around here, the average single family residence goes for somewhere on the high side of $500,000. You're committing a half million dollars of your money on the representation that Joe Blow owns the property and that if you give him half a million, he'll give you valid title. I would never consider buying property without an owner's policy of title insurance. Even with the best will in the world and my best friend whose family has owned it since the stone age, all kinds of issues really do crop up (Another agent in the office has a client right now who bought a property via an uninsured transfer - and there was an unrecorded tax lien. Ouch. Say bye-bye to your investment). The lenders are the same way. No lender's policy, no loan.
So what happens when this old mortgage document is uncovered? Well, that's one of the hundreds of thousands of reasons why you have that policy of title insurance. You go to your title company and say, "I have a claim." Since they missed that document in their search, they usually pay off the loan (there are other possibilities). After all, if they hadn't missed it, it would have been taken care of before the Joe Blow got paid for the property and split to the Bahamas.
None of this considers the possibility of fraud, among many other possibilities, but those are all beyond the scope of this article.
So when buying, insist that your seller provide you with a policy of title insurance. When selling, it really isn't out of line for your buyer to require it - it shows that you have a serious buyer. Some places may have the buyer purchasing his own policy, but most places that use title insurance, the seller pays for the owner's policy out of the proceeds. Of course, anytime there is a loan done on the property, the lender is going to require you pay for a lender's policy. If the quotes you are given do not include this, be certain to ask why.
If you have three real estate companies sending you emails with multi-listings, if you want to see one of the properties, who gets the commission? There five properties that I want to see the inside of the houses. Company A, B, C, etc. One house is listed by one of the three people that have been sending me emails.Am I obligated to sign up with an agent if I want to see the inside of a house? Do I tell the other agents not to send me anymore multiple listings?
That depends upon you and upon the agent and upon what sort of agreement, if any, who have signed.
If you haven't signed any representation agreements, nobody has grounds to complain. I don't ask for any agreement just to have listings automatically e-mailed to a prospect (within limits), or even an automated site for them to manage those listings. I have to have MLS access anyway, and that comes as part of the package. I look at it as an opportunity: for a few minutes work, I'm likely to end up with a prospective buyer. If one in a hundred of these converts to a transaction, I'm ahead of the game. The ratio is much higher than that. I could use it as an opportunity to set up my toll booth, and many agents do, but although they may be "top producers" because they cut out other agents for having their receptionist take five minutes out of their day to set this up, they're not the sort of agent someone who compares agents in action will likely choose.
If you've signed a non-exclusive representation agreement, the one who is the primary motivating factor behind the sale should be the one paid. This may be the agent who introduces you to the property, or it can be the agent who answers all of your questions well enough that you're willing to make an offer. It can also be the one who fast talks or pressures you into making the offer, but that's the beauty of non-exclusive agreements. You can fire such agents by just not working with them any more, and they're out of your life and out of the transaction.
If you've signed an exclusive representation agreement, then the person you signed the exclusive agreement with is legally entitled to be paid. This is a problem if someone else really sold the property to you, or if you've signed two or more such agreements. Furthermore, you can't fire bad agents with an exclusive agreement except by waiting for it to expire. You sign a six month exclusive agreement in April, they're going to get paid for any transaction you start through October (and possibly longer) - even if you told them you never want to see their face again before April was over.
Many agents will ask you to sign an exclusive representation agreement before they do anything. You shouldn't sign one at all. Non-exclusive is plenty good to protect the agent while preserving your protections against a bad one. And there is no reason not to sign the standard non-exclusive agreement.
I have heard every rationalization under the sun as to why exclusive agreements are desirable. The only person they're desirable to is insecure or incompetent agents. There is no advantage for the consumer to sign one. Exclusivity prohibits real competition, where the consumer can observe your skills and your attitude in action. Anybody can look good in the office before you've seen a single property together. That's just sales patter. The proof is watching them in action when you're evaluating property together. That's where you can tell the best agents from the friendly idiots, the high pressure commission grabber, and all the other problem personalities around. And sometimes, that's where you find out that they're not so friendly after all. Unless it's showing one of my listings, I won't go out with someone who's signed an exclusive with someone else, and neither will any other agent I know of. I'm not going to show someone the bargain I spent twenty or thirty hours finding so that an agent who couldn't be bothered to get out of their swivel chair can get paid for the work I did, but you'd be disgusted at how often I get the request.
If all you're getting is a sit on their hands agent who never leaves their office to scout property for you, whether they're an explicit discounter or someone pretending to be full service, then the purchase contract itself has confirmation of the relationship and there is no need to sign an agreement in advance of this at all. The same is true anytime you approach an agent with a property you have already determined to make an offer on. The agency relationship is confirmed in the purchase contract, indeed, in the initial offer. There's absolutely no need to sign any kind of representation agreement with them outside of that. It's simply one more method by which rotten agents lock up business, because if you sign that exclusive agreement they ask for, they've got you for however long it lasts. I've been told - by clients - about listing agents who wouldn't communicate an offer until they had signed a representation agreement - a clear violation of fiduciary responsibility to that owner. I've heard every rationalization under the sun here, as well. "I'm putting my time into this! I deserve to get paid if it falls apart!" is the most common one. My response is to such agents is, "Then make sure it doesn't fall apart, and no, you don't." The reason agents get paid as much as they do is because their pay is contingent upon a successful, fully consummated transaction. It's right there in all of the standard WinForms contracts. If an agent can't make this transaction go, they haven't earned any kind of right to mess up another one also. If you, the client, want to stick around once you've seen them in action, that's great! If not, that should also be within your range of choices. An exclusive agreement removes that option.
Somebody asked me that.
A dachshund puppy (or two!) would be the first item. I miss Thing, and Mellon just isn't the companion he was. She's very sweet, and devoted in her own way, but the phrase "Canine American Princess" was invented for her. If she can't have 100% of your attention, she's not interested in just cuddling up while you read.
After that, invest some in the stock market for liquidity, and buy some rental properties, because within two years anything I buy now is going to be a lot more valuable. Leverage my money right, and we're talking at least two million, probably more.
Specifically, Condominiums, and Townhomes. High density housing.
Why? Well for an illustration as to the first part of that reason, look at my article from October 15, 2007, Economics of Home Ownership in High Density Areas. We're in a phase here in southern California where we're getting ready to switch, by economic necessity, away from the single family detached property on its own lot and towards the community interest lot. Land is just too expensive. The average person or family, making an average paycheck, can no longer afford single family detached housing unless they've got one heck of a down payment. The demand is too high, and the supply too limited, for everyone who wants one to have one. When that sort of situation happens, price goes up until enough people get priced out.
Here's the trip: When you're talking rent, half million dollar single family detached housing rents for maybe $1800 per month. But if you buy a $200,000 condo, it rents for $1000 to $1200. Put 20% down, and it's very possible to have a positive cash flow on such a unit - something it's not currently possible to have with the detached house. The fact that the spread is so small is temporary, of course, but in the meantime it's an opportunity for a sort of arbitrage.
Furthermore, the average family can afford a fairly nice condominium or townhome. It's just that during the era of make believe loans, they were told they didn't have to "settle." So they purchased properties far beyond their real means, because they were being told they could qualify for those ridiculously high dollar value loans.
(I call it the era of make believe loans because the agent made believe people could afford more expensive properties, the lender made believe that people could qualify, and the consumers made believe that there weren't deadly traps they were falling into on every single one of them. It was seductively easy for everyone. The agent didn't have to sell only the property the client could afford, or "settle" for the smaller commission. The lender and loan originators could make money hand over fist on paper. The consumers could pretend they could afford a property far beyond their means, and didn't have to "settle" for what they could really afford. And people are still making believe that the era of make believe loans is going to come back.)
But denial has a definite half life when it encounters pervasive economic reality. Once it's become accepted that the housing market has stabilized from its free fall of the last two years, people will be forced to look reality straight in the eye. We had the bubble, we had the pop, and now it's almost time to start going up again. Once it starts happening, families will be forced to confront the fact that they can't get the American Dream all in one easy step by essentially clicking their heels together and declaiming, "There's no place like Oz!" They will have three options: Stay a renter forever, move away to somewhere there is less demand or more supply, or settle for what they can afford, leveraging it to something better. When larger number of people realize that those are their choices, the demand for and price of condominiums is going to shoot up.
So, put $40,000 or $50,000 into a $200,000 condo, rent it for $1200 per month, and your cash flow is just about even. That's the second half; the situation right now, as it exists. I've predicted rents are heading up in the near future several times, and that was before the local fires. Rent goes up, I'm making a couple hundred dollars per month while values are climbing. In a few years, I've a property that has doubled in value while making me some small cash in the meantime. Multiply this by a dozen, and I've got two to three million dollars from an investment of six hundred thousand or so. Plus, of course, I'm going to pull all the old flipper's tricks just before I sell them. Yes, there's risk - risk that can be minimized and dealt with. That's why I wouldn't be sinking every last penny I had into it, a mistake way too many people have made in the last few years.
Of course, nobody's giving me a million dollars. But if you have $50,000 sitting around, you can make about 10% per year in the stock market with a reasonable amount of risk, Over ten years, that's turning your money into about $138,000. Or, if California real estate increases at an average rate of 5% per year for the next ten years (our forty year average is about 7%), that $200,000 condo turns into a $325,000 condo, while your loan has been paid down to $125,000 and you walk away with $200,000, not counting the cash in your pocket between now and then. If we should actually tie our long term average of 7% annualized increases, that's a $390,000 condo and you walk away with $265,000. Meanwhile, the cash flow picture gets better every year as rents increase. Your choice, of course, but I'm not the only one who sees an opportunity here.
Most people don't stay in their first house their whole life. At some point, they want to move to a different home.
There are several ways to approach the transaction, but you have to decide which way fits you. You can approach it with an idea to maximizing profit, maximizing cash flow, maximizing speed, minimizing stress, or minimizing inconvenience. You really only get to choose one, but it's a good idea to rank them from most important to least important so that both you and your agent know where your priorities lie, and perhaps you can do some things from your lesser priorities.
Now, if this was a commercial site, looking to seduce you into listing with me, I'd probably have some corporate salespeak flack telling me to say you can have it all, but instead I'm going to tell you the blunt truth: You can't, not reliably, and any representation to the contrary is a lie, the words of a fool, or both. You can certainly do things in each of the categories (and others) but if you don't go into the transaction with a clear view of what is most important to you, chances are you won't get whatever it is that is important to you. Some people do luck out, especially in hot markets, but when the market is cooler, the fact is that you take what you can get, and the probability is better that you will get what is most important if you decide what is most important and stick to it.
If you choose to maximize profit, move out of the old property and into a rental unit, and make whatever cosmetic alterations you're planning before the property hits the market. Newly renovated vacant units show better, and therefore sell better, than anything else. Your time of highest interest is typically for the time period immediately after it hits the multiple listing service. Particularly if you have pets or children, who are both highly efficient entropy generators, you want to move out if you can afford to. Since this is very costly in terms of cash flow, many cannot afford it. Nonetheless, in most markets under most conditions, the return you will get will repay your investment, as there are few obstacles and conditions to your prospective buyer moving in as soon as they can consummate the sale. Furthermore, because the property is vacant, they can more easily picture themselves living in it. Ask any artist which is easier to work with - a blank canvas, or one that already has a painting on it? Then consider that the average buyer has the imagination of a rock, which is why properties with just a little more oomph are much easier to sell. The less of your family there is in the property, the more potential buyers can picture theirs in it.
Staying in the property causes not only stress from whether the property is clean enough to show every day, but also from prospective buyers and their agents having both a window of observation on your life and the potential opportunity to debark with some material piece. I imagine it happens, but not nearly so much as to warrant the stress sellers put themselves through on this point. As an agent, I'm always aware that my good name is on the line as well, and I'm always watching prospective buyers, even though I've never had anyone attempt to remove anything (that I'm aware of). Nonetheless, many sellers insist upon being physically present, which often has the effect of chasing people away that I, as the agent, could have sold the property to given a freer hand. Given real estate practicalities, your concern over a couple of $15 CDs that might have potentially wandered off could have just cost you tens of thousands. So if you're concerned, move anything valuable or irreplaceable like jewelry and heirlooms out, and resign yourself to replacing anything remaining. You'll likely come out ahead in the end.
If you're looking to maximize speed, moving out is a good idea also, but you're also going to want to price your property significantly lower. The higher the price, the harder it is to sell the property, the fewer people that can be expected to look at it, and the harder it will be for them to qualify. If you're priced 5 percent above anything comparable, the appraisal probably going to come in lower than the sale price, and not many people want to pay a premium for a property. It's going to take longer to sell. If you're priced a tad below the comparables, however, well everyone wants to buy homes with some built in equity, and the bank sees their loan as being less risky, so it's a little easier to qualify (They're still going to stick with the LCM principle, but from experience, they're less sticky about the little stuff if the appraisal is a little above the price).
If you're concerned about cash flow, on the other hand, moving out is not the way to go about things. For one thing, you don't have the money, or if you do, you're going into stress mode about whether some short deadline is going to be met, which can cause you to be forced to accept an awful deal that you would not otherwise have considered because you're running out of money to pay for all the extra stuff you weren't paying for before. If you think ahead, and make your agent aware of your concerns, you've got a better chance to come out ahead in the end.
Suppose your priority is to minimize stress? Then you typically stay put while researching other properties, and ask for a contingent sale, possibly with a leaseback that gives you a certain amount of time to find alternative lodgings. Alternatively, if cash flow isn't an issue, you might start looking right away, either with or without a "bridge loan" (cash out against your current property, as a down payment on the new one). Bridge loans are great, they are wonderful, they can do all sorts of things for you, but they are aren't cheap. Before you do one, consider whether there is a real need. If you have some cash and are a good credit risk, the better option may be to borrow more against the new property. Perhaps the better option is to split finance the new property and pay off the second loan on the new property when the current property sells. Because "bridge loans" are cash out refinances, then all things being equal, it's probably a better idea to get the money through a purchase money loan. It's even possible (albeit rare) that despite paying for two loans, the math may favor getting some money via a bridge loan, and borrowing the rest through the purchase loan on the new property.
If you want to minimize inconvenience, you probably want to stay in the property until it sells, and quite probably for a while thereafter, so you're going to want a short term leaseback as a condition of the sale. Many people do this to avoid moving the kids out of school in the middle of an academic year. If they're staying, it also gives them some time to find another property in the same district, or even that attends the same school. But here again, remember that you're limiting your buyer's options, which has the effect of possibly scaring off the ones who would otherwise have offered you the best price, or causing them to not be willing to pay so much for it ("Darn it, my kids are in the middle of a school year, too!") If it's a buyer's market, you're likely to pay a certain price - or rather, your buyers are likely to be willing to pay less - but if it's worth it to you, you also get what you pay for.
There are other potential factors, certainly, and other strategies to maximize the blend of "goods" that's best for you. But these are the ones that most people need to think about ahead of time, and these are the ones where failing to consider them ahead of time will reliably cost you the most.
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