Q. What happens if the house I want to purchase does not appraise at the amount expected?
A. If the house doesn't appraise at the amount expected, other alternatives are typically found. A second appraisal may be sought, the buyer may be willing to put more money down, the seller may adjust the price or offer other concessions, or the two sides may negotiate to split the difference between them.
Q. What is title insurance and why do I need it?
A. Basically, title insurance assures that you have clear title to the home you're purchasing. A title search is the primary component of "due diligence," a process that will be started either by your attorney, if you are using one, or by the title company you choose. The title search determines whether the seller actually owns the property and if there are any claims against it.
Q. How many homes should I plan to view and how should I make the final decision?
A. While exploring your needs and wants fully is a good idea for focusing your search and saving time, viewing a number of homes will help you become familiar with what you can expect to get for your money. When you find a home you really like, it's a good idea to go back and look at it at a different time of day. This will give you greater insight into what it will be like living in the home full time.
Q. What will my mortgage cover?
A. Most loans have 4 parts: principal: the repayment of the amount you actually borrowed; interest: payment to the lender for the money you've borrowed; homeowners insurance: a monthly amount to insure the property against loss from fire, smoke, theft, and other hazards required by most lenders; and property taxes: the annual city/county taxes assessed on your property, divided by the number of mortgage payments you make in a year. Most loans are for 30 years, although 15 year loans are available, too. During the life of the loan, you'll pay far more in interest than you will in principal - sometimes two or three times more. Because of the way loans are structured, in the first years you'll be paying mostly interest in your monthly payments. In the final years, you'll be paying mostly principal.
Q. What will happen at closing?
A. Closing is when you and your broker meet with the broker for the seller, seller and closing agent. The closing agent will have papers for you and the seller to sign. While he or she will give you a basic explanation of each paper, you may want to take the time to read each one and/or consult with your agent to make sure you know exactly what you're signing. After all, this is a large amount of money you're committing to pay for a lot of years! Before you go to closing, your lender is required to give you a booklet explaining the closing costs, a "good faith estimate" of how much cash you'll have to supply at closing, and a list of documents you'll need at closing. If you don't get those items, be sure to call your lender BEFORE you go to closing.
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