With Terry Story, 27-year veteran Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker in Boca Raton, FL
Buying a new home is one of the most exciting events in a person’s life, but it also can be one of the most frustrating. Instead of going into a state of high anxiety, consider allowing a professional real estate agent to guide you through the process from start to finish.
Even though the economy is good and interest rates are low right now, the real estate market is in constant flux. With her 27 years in the business, Terry Story has learned how to ride through the changes and negotiate the best deal for her clients.
Terry says that prices are higher across the board right now because of low inventory, so it’s important to know how to position yourself to get the best house for the money. At the beginning of the search process, Terry advises prospective buyers to have realistic expectations, to not go in looking for the elusive perfect house, but to expect to make some compromises and to stay focused on those points most essential to you, like being in the right school district.
Your qualified agent can also be your best source of information when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. No longer is a 20% down payment a requirement; it can be as low as 3%, and if you’re a veteran, 100% financing could be possible.
Many people today are purchasing homes governed by a mandatory homeowner’s association. It’s critical for the buyer to have a copy of the HOA documents before signing the contract since there may be some restrictions or rules that are unacceptable and may be cause for not purchasing in that particular neighborhood. It’s the buyer’s responsibility to ask for these documents in advance, and a good real estate agent will make sure that happens.
A complicated situation could occur if the unthinkable happens and the buyer dies prior to the closing. Terry says she recently experienced such a predicament where one of the spouses passed away and the surviving spouse didn’t want to go through with the transaction. A real estate attorney was called in at her suggestion which then resulted in a reasonable resolution for all.
So since your realtor can be your greatest advocate all through the home buying process, finding that person you can work with is your best first step toward a happy conclusion.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily United Capital. Interviewee is not a representative of United Capital. Investing involves risk and investors should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions. Content provided is intended for informational purposes only, is not a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, and should not be considered tax, legal, investment advice. Please contact your tax, legal, financial professional with questions about your specific needs and circumstances. The information contained herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, however their accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. All data are driven from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by United Capital.
Steve Pomeranz: It’s time for real estate roundup. This is the time every single week we get together with noted real estate agent, Terry Story. Terry is a 27-year veteran with Coldwell Banker located in Boca Raton, Florida. Welcome back to the show, Terry.
Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.
Steve Pomeranz: So, Terry, the economy is improving, interest rates are low, and many consumers now find themselves in a position financially to become a first time homeowner. However, there are some frustrations that people are experiencing right now. Let’s talk about them. What’s one of the first frustrations that a new time home buyer might encounter?
Terry Story: Sure, well, first of all, don’t get discouraged. The first thing that I find is they can’t figure out the home buying process, and that’s what realtors are for. Really if you’re a first time home buyer, don’t try to do this on your own. Get yourself associated with a good realtor who’s familiar with the area that you’re looking for. It can be a very frustrating process, but if you have a professional guiding you, it’ll make this process so much easier.
Steve Pomeranz: It’s like anything else that you attempt to do. There’s complications to it. There’s details that…we don’t really do this for a living, so, therefore, you can read all the articles you want or maybe even a book or two and that’s just wonderful, but to have someone with local knowledge, a good realtor with great experience, and someone who knows how to price things. If you’re selling a house, how to get it up and looking right. If you’re buying a house, what to look for and so on. I think that’s invaluable.
Terry Story: Oh, there are so many pitfalls, so, so many pitfalls, that it’s amazing. Even after 27 years of experience, I’ll come across something new that I’ve never seen before.
Steve Pomeranz: We have lower inventory these days. Housing prices are getting higher even though we have low interest rates, and people are doing better financially. There may be some frustrations because prices are higher and rising.
Terry Story: That’s right.
Steve Pomeranz: I would think you’d get pretty frustrated as first-time buyer, so I guess you have to counsel patience, right?
Terry Story: You do, and the other thing that’s really important is you’re not going to find a perfect home. There is no perfect home. I find, a lot of times, they just don’t have realistic expectations, and a lot of times I find the buyers are focusing on the negative. They’re focusing on the negative. Sometimes, these things can be changed. I see people fixate over the color of paint. That’s an item that can be changed. Just be realistic about the timeline it’s going to take to try to buy a home, and you might just have to sit on the sidelines and wait for the right house to come up once you’ve identified the certain areas that you want to be in.
Steve Pomeranz: Yeah, well, if you can stay where you’re at, that reminds me of the metaphor that Warren Buffett uses when he’s trying to find a perfect stock to buy. He says that you can stand at the plate in this game with your bat in hand, but there are no balls and strikes. You can just stand there and wait for the perfect pitch, for that pitch that you know that you can hit out of the park and I guess it’s the same …
Terry Story: You got to be swinging.
Steve Pomeranz: You got to be ready to swing, but you just let all the pitches go by, let the houses go by until you find the absolute right one. Now, don’t a lot of people, when they’re first starting out, think they can’t afford the 20% down payment? That seems pretty difficult.
Terry Story: Yeah, a lot of people think … And I know for a while it seems like you had to have at least 20% down, but that’s not the case. You can get financed for up to only 3% down, and if you’re a VA, you can get 100% financing, but anyway, it’s not as much down as you think. You just have to income qualify and credit qualify, so those are the frustrating things that I see most that pop up with especially the first-time home buyers, who have not gone though this process.
Steve Pomeranz: Talking about the process, let’s change gears here and let’s talk about the deal again. So here’s a question: a seller has contracted to sell his home in a community governed by a mandatory homeowner’s association, and shortly before closing, the buyer cancels the deal, saying that the seller failed to provide the homeowner’s association documents as required by law. It sounds like an excuse to me. Is the seller required to provide the documents?
Terry Story: Florida law, no. Other states, I can’t speak for them, but in the state of Florida, we have what’s called a three-day right of rescission, but that’s for condos. Homeowner’s associations don’t, and this is really a important point: buyers should inform their agents to add in their contract that the seller is to provide them the HOA documents during their inspection period. Steve, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone to contract and come to find out the buyer owns a pickup truck. The association doesn’t allow pickup trucks or they want a basketball hoop. You can’t have basketball hoop, so there are rules sometimes in the association that you don’t anticipate and then you get yourself in a contract and now you can’t get out of it because you’re outside of that inspection period time, but not receiving the HOA documents is a responsibility of a buyer to ask for them, and definitely want to ask for them either at the time of contract or prior to or, at a minimum, during the inspection period.
Steve Pomeranz: Have you had any personal experience in this particular area where things have fallen apart or almost fallen apart?
Terry Story: Yes, I’ve actually recently had a tenant, unbeknownst to any of us, have a pickup truck, and the association did not allow pickup trucks, so it became a big problem. They were able to come to an agreement that if he kept it in the garage, they would allow it to remain. It gets sometimes a little more complicated than that, but at the end of the day, he was able to keep the pickup truck, keep it in the garage, and it worked out.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, he was lucky that they were flexible because a lot of these homeowner’s associations are not.
Terry Story: Right, well, the problem was there were some other homeowners that had pickups and they enforced the rule, so it can get more complicated than that.
Steve Pomeranz: Final question: what happens if buyer dies before or prior to closing?
Terry Story: Unfortunately, I just had this happen and it’s complicated, but basically the bottom line is if a buyer is to pass, the estate would have to pick up the purchase and go through with it or forfeit the deposit, so in this particular case, one of the spouses passed. The other spouse did go through with the purchase because she felt that there was a moral obligation to do so, which was the right thing to do because, of course, that particular seller was buying another home. There was a train effect and as sad as the passing of this person was, it was affecting two other families’ lives going down the line. Those are your options. You can forfeit the deposit or go through with the transaction. And, of course, you always contact your real estate attorney. That’s the experience that I’ve just gone through.
Steve Pomeranz: Well, my guest, as always is Terry Story. Terry is with Coldwell Banker, located in Boca Raton, Florida and she can be found at terrystory.com. Thanks, Terry.
Terry Story: Thanks for having me, Steve.