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International Real Estate
Managed by a designated Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Bronxville Real Estate is equipped to navigate international real estate transactions.
If you are thinking of investing US Dollars abroad or spending foreign currency here, we can help you with commercial, residential or vacation properties.
Global economic conditions influence currency exchange rates and effect international buying power. Find today's exchange rates here.
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Biweekly Mortgage Calculation - How much would your loan cost if you made payments every two weeks?
Canadian Mortgage Payment Table - Canadian mortgage calculator based on Canadian mortgage calculations.
How Much House Can You Afford? - You supply your income information and we calculate how much you can afford.
Mortgage Calculator - Find out how much that new home will cost!
Mortgage Payment Table Calculator - See how much a home loan will cost with varying interest rates and payments on the same chart!
Mortgage Qualification Calculator - See what lenders expect your minimum annual income to be in order to afford your next home.
Prepayment Mortgage Reduction - This form allows you to see how prepaying your mortgage reduces the length of your mortgage by putting in the current values for your loan.
Car Lease Calculator - How much will your payments be if you lease your next car?
Tuition Savings Calculator - See how much you need to contribute each year in order to put your children through college.
APR/Front End Cost Calculator - Calculates the upfront costs of the loan.
APR/Front End Cost Calculator - You give the upfront costs and it finds the actual Annual Percentage Rate.
Compound Interest Rate Calculation - This calculator simply takes the final amount you want to earn given an initial investment for a duration of time, and finds the required annual yield you would need to achieve that goal.
Deferred Payment Calculator - What will your monthly payment be if you defer a loan?
Future Value/Annuity Calculation - How much money do you need to save now to have what you want when you retire?
How Long Will It Last? - Loan Calculatorr - Here is a new twist on the mortgage calculator. Here you tell how much you want to spend each month, an interest rate and a loan amount, and the computer tells you how long it will take you to pay it off!
How Much to Retire - Here is a new simple retirement calculator. It tells how much you will need to provide a certain income for a set number of years.
Loan Payment Calculator - Enter the values and we will tell you the payment. The loan can be a mortgage, car loan, or any other simple interest amortization over a fixed time with fixed monthly payments.
Nominal and Effective Interest Rates - Calculate what rates are necessary to achieve a desired future value amount given a present value amount and the time period over which to compound your investment.
Prepayment vs. Investment -- A Scenario - This form allows you to compare what would happen if you took one of two choices with some extra cash you have -- prepaying your mortgage each month, or investing it instead.
Savings Calculator - This doesn't deal with inflation, taxes or any of that complicated stuff. This is just a simple calculator that lets you start with an amount of money and make regular monthly deposits, and see how much it grows.
(sometimes lenders use the term "upside down")
In general terms, a short sale is when the proceeds of a proposed sale of property are insufficient to pay off the loan(s) in full and the lender(s) agrees to accept less than the full loan repayment to release its secured lien against the property. The loan may be delinquent, in process of default or in imminent default when the lender agrees to a short sale.
In order for a lender to consider allowing a short sale, a homeowner will have to be able to document hardship and an inability to pay the difference between the mortgaged amount and the sale price. If the homeowner has other assets (i.e. bank or retirement accounts) or a high-income job with potential for high earnings down the road, a lender may not agree to accept a short sale, or may agree now but with a promissory note to repay the deficiency at a later date. A short sale can be a complicated process, so it is typically undertaken when a homeowner still has a relatively good credit rating worth preserving, but without the assets to pay off the loan balance.
Homeowners considering applying to their lender for a short sale should consult an attorney and an accountant for professional advice regarding the implications, especially as the laws and rules may change regarding any tax implications for the homeowner in connection with a short sale.
In addition to an attorney and an accountant, a real estate agent well-versed in the short sale process can be a valuable asset in negotiating with a lender regarding a short sale. Each lender's requirements vary, but most will require an extensive "short sale package" be submitted for their consideration. Some of the items in this package may include, but are not limited to: a net proceeds statement showing all related closing costs and the projected shortfall amount, a broker's price opinion to establish value or a current offer to purchase, the real estate agent's commission request, a financial hardship letter from the homeowner, and myriad financial documents from the homeowner including pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns. One of the key components of a short sale negotiation can be convincing the lender that allowing the short sale will net them a larger sum than if the property were to proceed to foreclosure and would then need to be marketed and sold. A knowledgeable Realtor can assist a homeowner in compiling and submitting this package, and with the homeowner's written consent, may also represent the homeowner in negotiations with the lender.
In order to begin the short sale process, a homeowner will typically need to contact the lender's loss mitigation or workout department, rather than customer service or the collection department. Approval times can vary, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with the usual being 6 - 12 weeks. At that time, the lender can approve or deny the short sale, so both seller and prospective buyer need to understand the wait period, and that without the lender's approval, there can be no sale.
If there are multiple lenders involved (i.e. a first mortgage & a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit that has been accessed), then approval may be required from more than one lender for a short sale to be completed. If any of the loans has been securitized (sold to a third-party or covered by private mortgage insurance), then approval may be needed from that entity as well. This can become very complicated, and sometimes the first place lien holder has little or no motivation to approve a short sale if they will be covered in getting their money repaid, whereas the second place lien holder might be left in the cold, with or without a short sale. A Realtor's skill and experience in negotiating these types of situations can be a tremendous benefit to the homeowner facing a short sale situation.
Some of the deterrents and impediments to a short sale may include the extensive paperwork that's required, determining that it's an "arm's length" transaction (i.e. the seller isn't selling to a relative at a bargain-basement price at the bank's expense), assuring the lender that the prospective purchaser can obtain financing for the deal, assessing the short sale proceeds versus the proceeds from a foreclosure sale, obtaining approval from all parties involved, and getting the right people involved from the beginning of the process.
As a homeowner, you should have a frank conversation up front with your Realtor if you feel you may have a potential short sale situation. Your real estate agent will have certain obligations to disclose this information to prospective buyers and other cooperating agents through the Multiple Listing Service. Banks, in agreeing to short sales, are asking the property's purchaser for indemnification and an acknowledgement that they are taking the house "as is". It is unlikely any bank will remedy any issues with the property in a short sale.
Copyright 2014, Westchester Real Estate, Inc.
The owner of a condominium has a fee simple title (the same as for a single family home) and deed to the individual condo unit as well as an undivided interest in the common elements of the property such as the land, walls, hallways, roof, pool, clubhouse, etc. A prospectus or offering plan defines the common elements and describes the individual units. The condominium by-laws define the operating rules and establish procedures for an elected Board of Managers to oversee operation of the condominium. A monthly association fee is paid by the condo owners to cover the expenses of maintaining and operating the common elements (not tax deductible). Real estate taxes on the unit are assessed to and paid directly by the unit owner (tax deductible). Mortgage interest on any purchase loan is also paid directly by the unit owner (tax deductible). Generally, a condominium owner may sell or rent their unit as they wish. Condominium units exist in a variety of architectural styles, including buildings, attached, semi-attached and detached simplexes and duplexes.
In cooperative homeownership, the title to the land, building(s) and common elements is held by an apartment corporation. Unit owners purchase shares of stock in the corporation and obtain a proprietary lease for the unit and a stock certificate representing the number of shares owned (it is technically the purchase of "personal property" rather than "real property"). As stockholders, unit owners elect a Board of Directors to oversee administration of the building. The by-laws of a co-op typically give the Directors the right to approve/disapprove of prospective purchasers, in accordance with anti-discrimination laws, since all owners are financially vulnerable if other owners default. The by-laws may also limit a shareholder's ability to rent their unit because higher rental ratios can affect the tax status of the entire property (this can result in higher owner occupancy rates than condos). Unit owners pay monthly fees that cover maintenance and management costs, as well as the corporation's property taxes and the underlying mortgage on the building (the portion of the monthly fee that represents the property taxes and underlying mortgage interest is tax deductible for the unit owner). Even though co-ops are considered personal property, for income tax purposes, the IRS allows co-op owners to also deduct the interest on a co-op purchase loan. Values per square foot for co-ops are generally less than for condos and settlement costs are often lower. However, the purchase of a co-op often requires a higher down payment (as established by the co-op's by-laws or the lender) and the pool of potential lenders for a co-op loan may be smaller than for a condominium mortgage.
Types of Lenders
You will likely have heard the terms "mortgage broker", "mortgage banker" and "lender" used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences.
The "lender" is the entity that provides the money to the borrower at the closing, in exchange for a note evidencing the borrower's debt and obligation to repay, as well as a lien on the subject property.
A "mortgage broker" is not a lender, but rather a company or individual who offers the loan products of many lenders. A mortgage broker can counsel a borrower, take applications and process the loan, but cannot provide a commitment or approval of the loan; that must be provided by the actual bank or investor who is funding the loan.
"Mortgage bankers", on the other hand, are actual lenders. They can offer a wide range of mortgage programs that they usually fund on a short-term basis before selling them in the secondary mortgage market. A mortgage banker can originate, process, fund and occasionally service mortgage loans. Mortgage banks currently dominate the U.S. mortgage market by a large margin. Institutional banks, or "portfolio lenders", also fund mortgage loans, but are limited to offering only their own mortgage products, since they keep these loans in their own portfolio, rather than selling them in the secondary market. It is important to understand with whom you are dealing, and what products and services they can offer, as well as comparing costs and loan rates.
The benefits of obtaining a Loan Commitment in the home buying process:
Listed below is an explanation of the three basic types of approvals that most lenders provide. As you will see, a Loan Commitment is the most attractive form of approval for you to provide to a seller. Although there is a small fee, obtaining a Loan Commitment puts you in the best position to successfully bid on the purchase of your new home.
A "Pre-Qualification" means that you have spoken with a loan officer and the loan officer has qualified you, in writing, for a specified loan amount based on the verbal information you have provided regarding your income, assts and credit history. A credit history check is typically not completed. This is the "weakest" form of approval. Most real estate agents and sellers will not accept this form of qualification. Most lenders do not charge for a Pre-Qualification.
A "Loan Approval" is a written form of approval for a specified loan amount. In this case, the lender has taken a complete application and has completed a credit check and debt calculation. In most cases, the lender has utilized an automated approval system for your approval. This form of approval is more complete and acceptable to real estate agents and sellers because it is not simply a loan officer's opinion. However, a Loan Approval is based on verbal information and a credit check only. The approval is still subject to review and verification of income and/or assets.
A "Loan Commitment" is a written promise from a lender to provide a loan, up to a specified amount. The commitment means that a lender has completed your credit check as well as income and asset verification. In most cases, the commitment is only subject to an appraisal on the property and the review of a purchase contract. A Loan Commitment is typically valid for several months and can be extended.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that this is not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of the home purchase process. It is intended to give the reader a general overview of the process, and to allow a prospective purchaser to plan ahead. Information contained herein should not take the place of the expert advice of professional advisors such as an attorney, a real estate agent, an engineer, a mortgage counselor, an accountant, and an insurance agent, all of whom you may have to consult with and rely upon in connection with your home purchase.
The Initial Home Search Process
Your agent(s) will show you suitable properties based on a discussion of your housing needs, priorities and affordability. Your agent(s) may work with you as a Buyer's Agent, Broker's Agent, or as a Sub-agent of the Seller; be sure to discuss these agency relationships with your agent(s) at your first substantive meeting as you will be required by law to sign an Agency Disclosure Agreement at that time. If financing will be required, it is recommended that you obtain mortgage pre-approval from a qualified lender prior to beginning your home search. A pre-approval letter will give your offer merit in the eyes of a seller, and may allow you to be more flexible if a quick closing is in both parties' best interest. You should also select an attorney at this time. It is recommended that you choose an attorney who is experienced in representing purchasers of real estate. If you don't have an attorney already for this purpose, your agent(s) can usually give you names of several highly regarded real estate attorneys that you can interview.
The Offer Process
Once you have found a home you wish to purchase, your agent will submit an offer on your behalf. Offers and counter-offers may be submitted verbally or in writing. The initial offer is usually submitted in writing (especially in a multiple-offer situation) as an "Offer to Purchase" prepared by your agent; subsequent counter-offers are often presented verbally. When you have reached an agreement with the seller on terms including purchase price, personal property to be included, projected closing date, conditions and contingencies (inspections, financing, etc.), you now have an Acceptable Offer (A.O.). Once an A.O. is reached, a written Memorandum of Agreement is usually drafted by the seller's agent, stating the terms of the agreement; copies are distributed to the seller, the seller's attorney, the buyer, the buyer's attorney, and both real estate agents. No earnest money deposit is exchanged at this time. The typical time frame from agreement to closing is approximately 60 days. Of course, many factors can affect this time frame, including specific needs of the buyer and/or seller.
From Agreement to Contract
After reaching an A.O., you (the buyer) are given a limited time period during which to conduct an engineer's inspection and other desired and/or required inspections (assuming that an inspection contingency is part of the agreed-upon offer). This period is usually 10 days or less. During this period, the seller has only a verbal, non-binding agreement to sell the property to the buyer; the seller, in the meantime, is free to listen to, negotiate, and/or accept other offers. It is, therefore, imperative that you (the buyer) conduct all inspections in good faith and in a timely fashion. A binding contract will generally not be written until after inspections have been completed.
An inspection by an Engineer, Architect or a New York state licensed home inspector is strongly recommended for every home purchase. The purpose of an inspection is to identify the condition of the home and allow the buyer to make informed decisions. Even with newly constructed homes and with condominiums, it is possible that something could have been overlooked or poorly designed. An engineer's inspection will typically take 2-4 hours. If at all possible, you should plan to be there with the inspector during the inspection. This is an opportunity for you to learn a lot about your new home, ask questions of the engineer, and receive suggestions. Subsequent to the inspection, the engineer will provide you with a detailed written report covering his/her findings. Most mortgage lenders require a termite inspection and stipulate that it's to be done by a licensed termite inspector. Your engineer may or may not be licensed to do termite inspections; if not, you will need to hire a termite inspector. Other optional inspections you may wish to perform include a fuel oil tank test (for oil tanks buried in the ground), a radon test, a septic dye test (if applicable), a water potability test and water recovery test (for private wells), asbestos testing, and lead paint tests.
From Contract to Closing
Once inspections are completed and deemed satisfactory, the seller's attorney will draft a contract of sale and deliver it, along with the seller's title insurance policy and copy of any existing survey, to your (the purchaser's) attorney. You should review and discuss the contract with your attorney. If any changes are requested, the seller must agree to these changes. Signed contracts are then returned to the seller's attorney with a 10% contract deposit, also called a "down payment" (this down payment amount can be negotiable but is typically 10%). The contract deposit check is made payable to the seller's attorney who holds it in an escrow account until the closing. Once the contract is signed by the seller, your attorney will receive two fully executed copies of the contract, one of which will be given to you for submission with your mortgage loan application. Your completed mortgage loan application with all supporting documentation should be submitted to your chosen lender promptly upon receipt of the fully signed contracts. Your attorney will also provide you with an estimate of closing costs at this time.
Prior to closing, your attorney will arrange for a title search of the property. The title company will issue a title report certifying clear title, and a title insurance policy to protect the lender (required) and the buyer (optional) in the event a title problem arises in the future. The title company will also perform a property tax search and a violations search (required by the lender), and a survey inspection. If the existing survey is unacceptable, or if no survey exists, it is typically the buyer's responsibility to pay for a new survey.
Once all conditions of the contract have been satisfied, the closing date is scheduled. This involves getting together all parties including the seller, the seller's attorney, the buyer, the buyer's attorney, the lender's attorney, the title company representative, and usually one or both real estate agents. Once the closing is scheduled, calls should be made to confirm with your movers, to contact utility companies to transfer service accounts, to arrange for a homeowners insurance policy (proof of an insurance policy and paid receipt for one year's premium paid in advance must be brought to the closing), and to transfer any funds necessary for closing. Your attorney will advise you in advance as to the amount(s) of any certified checks required at closing. You will also be required to bring a supply of blank personal checks for assorted closing costs, as well as two forms of identification, one of which must be a photo I.D.
A final "walk-through" of the property is performed just prior to closing, usually within a few hours or not sooner than the previous day. This is scheduled with your real estate agent, or the seller's agent. The purpose of the walk-through is threefold: to confirm that no damage has been done to the home since the time of the engineering inspection; to confirm that the major systems and appliances are in working order; and to confirm that the home is "vacant and broom clean", as stipulated in every sales contract.
For additional information or clarification of any information provided herein, please consult one of the professionals identified in the disclaimer.
Copyright 2014, Westchester Real Estate, Inc.
It's important to understand what legal responsibilities your real estate salesperson has to you and to other parties in the transactions. Ask your salesperson to explain what type of agency relationship you have with him or her and with the brokerage company.
1. Seller's agent (also known as a listing agent). A seller's agent is hired by and represents the seller. All fiduciary duties are owed to the seller, including reasonable care, undivided loyalty, confidentiality, full disclosure, obedience and a duty to account. Cooperating agents from the same office as the seller's agent, who are not representing the buyer as a buyer's agent, are also seller's agents. The agency relationship usually is created by a listing contract.
2. Broker's agent. A broker's agent cooperates with or is engaged by the seller's agent to help find a purchaser for a property. Broker's agency arises when a cooperating sales associate from another brokerage, who is not representing the buyer as a buyer's agent or operating in a non-agency relationship, shows property to a buyer. In such a case, the broker's agent works with the buyer as a customer, and in dealing with the buyer, should exercise reasonable skill and care, disclose all facts known to the agent materially affecting the value or desirability of the property except as otherwise provided by law, and deal honestly, fairly and in good faith. A broker's agent cannot assist the buyer in any way that would be detrimental to the seller. It is important that broker's agents fully explain their duties to buyers.
3. Buyer's agent. A real estate licensee who is hired by prospective buyers to represent them in a real estate transaction. The buyer's agent works in the buyer's best interest throughout the transaction and owes fiduciary duties to the buyer, the same as the seller's agent owes to the seller. The buyer can pay the licensee directly through a negotiated fee, or the buyer's agent may be paid by the seller or by a commission split with the listing broker.
4. Disclosed dual agent. Dual agency is a relationship in which the brokerage firm represents both the buyer and the seller in the same real estate transaction. Dual agency relationships do not carry with them all of the traditional fiduciary duties to the clients. Instead, dual agents owe limited fiduciary duties to both parties. Because of the potential for conflicts of interest in a dual-agency relationship, it's vital that all parties give their informed consent. In many states (including NY), this consent must be in writing. Disclosed dual agency, in which both the buyer and the seller are told that the agent is representing both of them, is legal in most states.
5. Designated agent (also called, among other things, appointed agency). This is a brokerage practice that allows the managing broker to designate which licensees in the brokerage will act as an agent of the seller and which will act as an agent of the buyer. Designated agency avoids the problem of creating a dual-agency relationship for licensees within the same company. The designated agents give their clients full representation, with all of the attendant fiduciary duties, with the exception of undivided loyalty. The broker still has the responsibility of supervising both groups of licensees, and remains as the dual agent.
6. Non-agency relationship (called, among other things, a transaction broker or facilitator). Some states permit a real estate licensee to have a type of non-agency relationship with a consumer (NY does not allow this). These relationships vary considerably from state to state, both as to the duties owed to the consumer and the name used to describe them. Very generally, the duties owed to the consumer in a non-agency relationship are less than the complete, traditional fiduciary duties of an agency relationship.
Reprinted in part from NYSAR and REALTOR Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Certificates of Occupancy
What is the Purpose of the Certificate of Occupancy?
A Certificate of Occupancy represents the municipality's assurance that a home is legally occupied and conforms to zoning and minimum repair and maintenance standards as of the date the Certificate of Occupancy was issued.
It normally ensures that: a) Plans were properly filed with the building department before construction occurred, or if construction was first undertaken, that the property owner satisfied the building department that the addition to the residence was performed in compliance with the law; b) Architectural drawings were filed and the building department determined whether there is compliance with setback requirements; c) if additional bedrooms or baths were added to a home with a septic system rather than a municipal waste system, Health Department approvals were obtained for the expansion of the premises and the septic system in its present design is adequate to serve the expanded needs of the premises; d) The plumbing and electrical inspectors have examined the premises to determine that all improvements were made in compliance with the Building Code regulations at the time the inspection; e) The Building Department certifies that the addition has been completed in accordance with all codes, rules and regulations and has been properly inspected.
Based upon the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy, notification is given to the Office of the Assessor in the municipality in which the property is located to advise the Assessor that improvements have been made to the premises. These improvements could result in a change in assessed valuation and therefore, a change in the tax levies that are imposed upon the premises.
What is the Effect of Not Having A Certificate of Occupancy?
A purchaser of property which does not have a Certificate of Occupancy for all improvements may find: 1) the improvements do not comply with setback requirements and need to be moved or be made the subject of applications to the Zoning Board of Appeals for Variances; 2) the improvements may not have been made in accordance with the Building Code and may need to be upgraded; 3) the improvements may never be the subject of a Certificate of Occupancy without the expansion of septic fields which may or may not be able to be improved or expanded upon; 4) the property has been under-assessed based upon its actual improvements and upon compliance with all of the rules with respect to obtaining Certificates of occupancy, therefore there is likely to be a substantial increase in real property taxes.
What Does the Real Property Contract Form State About Certificates of Occupancy?
Paragraph 16 of the contract commonly used in the New York Metropolitan Area addresses Certificate of Occupancy. The contract is made subject to and the purchaser's obligations are conditioned upon the fulfillment by the seller of certain conditions under Paragraph 16. These include: Paragraph 16(b) The Delivery by Seller to Purchaser of a valid and subsisting Certificate of Occupancy or other required certificate of compliance, or evidence that none was required, covering the building(s) and all of the other improvements located on the property authorizing their use as a single family dwelling at the date of Closing.
If the bank attorney does her or his job efficiently, the bank will insist upon a Certificate of Occupancy for all improvements.
Setting a Listing Price
Of course everyone wants more money for their home. But in choosing a selling price for your house, it doesn't really matter how much you think your home is worth, nor does it matter how much an agent thinks your home is worth. It will only be the buyer's opinion that counts in the end. To find a reasonable asking price, you'll need to compare similar properties, track market movements, and take stock of present inventory. This will lead you to a range of value, which is only an educated opinion, but a good start. Also, understand that no two appraisals are ever exactly the same, but they should be generally close to each other. This means you will not be able to get one set price tag for your home from appraisals, but it will give you a good, educated range and the market will dictate the rest.
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of selling your home with the idea that you will be receiving a large sum of money from the sale. However, you need to remember the costs involved with selling that could include real estate commission if you use an agent to sell, advertising costs, signs, and other fees if you list for sale by owner, attorney, or closing agent and other professional fees, excise tax for the sale, prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, etc., and any other fees typical for sellers in your area, like surveys and inspection fees. Try to get an estimate that will include all the seller closing costs.
Unless you want your house to be regarded as a "fixer-upper," you'll want to make sure all needed repairs are made. This does not necessarily mean cosmetic updates, though those can also be helpful, but just make sure that any items that are in need of repair are fixed. Some things that worry buyers the most are mold and mildew, damp basements and crawlspaces, deteriorated roofs or chimneys, plumbing problems, and inadequate or inferior electrical systems. Anything visibly broken will give buyers a reason to offer a lower price.
You want your home to look presentable, if not fantastic when potential buyers come through the door. This means creating a home ready at any time for a walk through. Some tips for staging your home may include the following: opening drapes and blinds to let in natural light, washing windows, cleaning up the yard for curb appeal, controlling clutter inside and out, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms, refinishing hardwood floors, and painting or repainting where necessary. In some cases, it may even be helpful to borrow or rent some additions to make your home more attractive to buyers. Your Realtor may recommend using the services of a home staging professional to achieve maximum appeal from the outset to accomplish the quickest sale for the highest price.