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Results, No Excuses

What Is A Hybrid Loan and How It Works

I’ll be the first to admit the real estate and mortgage industries have their very own special word salad. Various terms and words can have different meanings based upon context and the mortgage industry is no different. Enter the term ‘hybrid.’ Yes, it’s alive and well in the industry but for some it can be confusing as it relates to getting a home loan.

I’ll be the first to admit the real estate and mortgage industries have their very own special word salad. Various terms and words can have different meanings based upon context and the mortgage industry is no different. Enter the term ‘hybrid.’ Yes, it’s alive and well in the industry but for some it can be confusing as it relates to getting a home loan.

What’s a hybrid? A hybrid is a combination of one or more characteristics combined into one new entity. Automobiles have hybrids. So does food and agriculture. Pretty much any industry can boast some form of a hybrid. In the mortgage industry, hybrids also abound.

We’ve said before here in this very column that home loan terms fall into two distinct categories: fixed and adjustable. A loan is either fixed, where the interest rate never changes throughout the life of the loan. An adjustable loan is one where the monthly payment can adjust based upon previously established terms. An adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, doesn’t change ‘willy nilly.’

There are some rules an ARM must follow. Specifically, paying attention to the basic index in which the ARM is tied.
Then there’s the margin.  The margin dictates how much the new rate can become adjustment time. And finally there are rate caps which limit how much the rate can change when it’s due for an adjustment. But we didn’t mention hybrids, did we? So if hybrids are a ‘thing’ where do they fall in the mortgage biz?

A hybrid at its very base is indeed an ARM. So why the hybrid tag? Hybrids used to be a very attractive option when rates were at relative highs. A hybrid starts out at a slightly lower rate compared to similar ARMs.

It’s called a hybrid because there is an initial period where the loan is fixed for a predetermined period. A 5/1 hybrid means the rate is fixed initially for five years and the one indicates when the adjustment can take place after the initial five year period. In this example, the rate may change, after five years, once per year. Most such loans also employ caps when limiting how much the rate can change after the five year period at each adjustment.

So why do some choose a hybrid? The initial rate will be lower compared to current market fixed rates. Further, many may know they’re likely to move before the five year term is up. Personally, I prefer the stability of a fixed. But hybrids can work well in specific, niche circumstances.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Illegal Landlord Actions To Avoid

Know what’s legal and illegal before becoming a landlord

There are good landlords, there are bad landlords, and there are inexperienced landlords. Whether you’re purchasing your first rental property or you’ve been a landlord for years, understanding what you can and can’t legally do is critical to your success. Weighing an action in advance can save you a world of trouble later.

Key Takeaways

  • There are legal actions you can take as a landlord, such as deducting from the security deposit when your tenant damages the rental property.
  • Illegal actions you might not know you’re taking as a landlord could be entering the rental property without advance notice (unless it’s an emergency).
  • Learn what you can and can’t do as a landlord if you want to stay in good standing with renters for years to come.

Legal Actions Landlords Can Take

There are some things you can do as a landlord:

  • Declining to rent to someone due to poor credit or references is acceptable, but speak to a lawyer before declining for any other reason.
  • Increasing the rent is fine, but only at certain times and within certain percentages, so check your state’s code to make sure you’re within those boundaries.
  • You can deduct from security deposits for damage done by the tenant, but not for reasonable wear and tear.

Illegal Actions Landlords Can’t Take

And then there are illegal actions you may not realize you’re taking as a landlord:

  • You can’t lock tenants out of their dwellings without first getting a court order for eviction, even if they haven’t paid rent in months.
  • You can’t retaliate against tenants for complaining about uninhabitable conditions.
  • You can’t enter a rented dwelling without first providing reasonable notice, except in the case of emergencies.

Learning more about what to do in certain situations can help you know how to handle them if and when they arise with a renter.

Landlord and tenant laws may change from state to state. Be sure to read up on what’s illegal and legal in your state before becoming a landlord.

Nonpayment of Rent

For whatever reason, you can’t simply lock your tenant out of the dwelling if they don’t pay their rent. Instead, you must move through proper legal channels and take them to court to get an eviction order first.

You might want to avoid a lengthy eviction process. You might also want to avoid the risk that the tenant will pay the rent due when they get to court but will stop paying again right after the court date.

Problem Tenants

Tenants sometimes cause problems at the rental property, such as disturbing or harassing other tenants, conducting illegal activities out of their apartment, or breaking other clauses of the lease. Again, you must evict through the legal system. You can’t take unauthorized action on your own.

If you believe your renter is doing some illegal, talk to the authorities. Call the local police and a lawyer to determine if what they’re doing is really illegal. If it is, work with the authorities to take action in a safe manner.

Tenant Complaints

You shouldn’t retaliate against tenants who have made complaints about the rental property. The tenant might have made these complaints to you already or might have filed a formal complaint with the municipality or state. In either case, you can’t react by hiking the rent or filing an eviction action. You can’t harass the tenant or make the living conditions so uncomfortable that the tenant leaves the property, such as by refusing to make necessary repairs.

Increasing the Price of Rent

Let’s say you want a tenant out of the rental property so you can charge more rent to a new tenant. This commonly happens with rent-stabilized apartments or apartments where protected tenants reside.

The rent can only be increased by a certain percentage each year in rent-stabilized apartments, so a tenant who has been there for 15 years might be paying far below the market price for the unit. Protected tenants are similar in that you can only increase the rent by a certain percentage each year. These tenants cannot be evicted except for very specific reasons.

There are specific rules for how often you can increase a tenant’s rent and how much you can increase it. You must give proper notice, such as 30 to 60 days, before a lease renewal. You can’t increase the rent by more than is legally allowed in your state, such as by demanding a 10% increase when the maximum allowed by the state is 5%.

Discriminating Against Tenants

You might prefer to only rent to married couples or might not want college students renting together. You might even want to avoid having to make reasonable accommodations to the property for a tenant with a disability. This all falls into the category of discrimination.

Refusing to rent for any of these reasons is illegal and can open you up to a serious lawsuit. A landlord is legally responsible for following fair housing laws. There’s a federal Fair Housing Law and most states have additional fair housing rules that landlords must follow. Make sure you’re up to date on these laws.

It’s illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to a tenant because of the color of their skin, the religious group they’re affiliated with, or because they have a disability.

Two of the most common times a landlord violates the fair housing laws is when they’re posting ads to fill a vacancy or actually screening and interviewing tenants. Be careful and choose your words wisely.

Increasing Property Expenses

You might unknowingly perform illegal actions to make up for an increase in costs such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, or maintenance. This could include trying to save money by hiring unskilled workers to perform repairs for less money or refusing to schedule required property inspections. Don’t do that; if your costs go up as a landlord, discuss your options with a lawyer and realtor.

Refusing To Make Repairs

You are required to keep the rental property in a habitable condition, so it’s illegal to refuse to make repairs that can affect a tenant’s health or safety. You also don’t want to make the repairs but illegally hire unlicensed contractors to do the work, such as electrical or plumbing. It’s likely that your town requires licensed professionals to perform the work.

If you are aware of a health or safety issue at the property, do not try to cover it up instead of fixing it. For example, there could be a known lead paint hazard. Don’t avoid the costly lead paint remediation by installing decorative molding over the hazard. This is breaking the law.

Entering the Property Without Proper Notice

Another prohibited act is not respecting a tenant’s legal right to privacy. You have a right to enter a tenant’s apartment in an emergency, but you must give the tenant proper notice in almost all other situations. The amount of notice is usually spelled out in your state’s landlord/tenant laws and, if not, it should be clearly stated in advance in your lease agreement.

In addition to proper notice, the landlord can only enter the apartment for legal reasons, such as to show the unit to prospective tenants or to make repairs. Do not place cameras or recording equipment inside a tenant’s apartment. This is completely illegal no matter what the reasoning behind it.

Not Getting Required Inspections

Some landlords rent out apartments without getting the required inspections done first. Some states require a new certificate of occupancy or a habitability inspection each time the unit is rented to someone new, or sometimes every few years. Some states or towns require fire inspections prior to renting, confirming that the unit has the proper number of carbon monoxide or smoke detectors and that they’re in working order.

Municipalities will often charge fees for inspections and these may range from city to city or state to state. Don’t put off these inspections just because you don’t want to pay these fees.

Making Illegal Deductions From the Security Deposit

A landlord might try to keep a tenant’s security deposit for “repairs,” such as damage to the property that actually occurred prior to the tenant moving in, or for other fake breaches in the lease agreement. Legitimate reasons to keep a security deposit include unpaid rent and damage to the unit that you can tie back to the renter. Ordinary wear and tear do not warrant deducting money from the security deposit.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

5 Biggest Mistakes Landlords Make That Kill Profit

After a long search, you finally bought the perfect property. You like the location. It’s all fixed up the way you want it. You’re excited to find tenants. You’re ready to start making money.

Before you dive into the deep end, though, there are some things you might want to know.

Every landlord makes mistakes. Inevitably, you will as well.

However, minimizing most of those errors could be the difference between turning a profit and falling into the red.

In this article, we’re going to look at 5 common mistakes landlords make that kill profit:

  1. Not turning units over quickly
  2. Poor tenant screening
  3. Mishandling maintenance issues
  4. Being too lenient
  5. Ignorance of laws and regulations

Avoiding these mistakes will help you turn a profit and grow a fruitful business.


The cost of vacant unit can add up quickly and the longer it’s empty, the more expenses climb. Avoiding extended vacancy periods is critical as a landlord if you want to make a profit.

A key part of turning units over is marketing and advertising. Make sure you’re on as many listing sites as possible and carefully construct engaging copy to describe your property. This article goes into detail about creating the ideal property listing.

In addition to marketing, ensure your property is well-maintained. You want to show people something that catches their eye and has features they’re looking for.


Even though turning units over quickly is important, that doesn’t mean you should go light on tenant screening. Skipping or glossing over tenant screening is a huge mistake. And it’s one that could cost you money for a long time.

Great tenants are one of the best ways to keep your profits healthy. You don’t want to deal with damaged property, noise complaints, and poor communication. It’s frustrating and hurts your bottom line.

So, thorough tenant screening is a must. Have criteria and stick to them. Be sure to pull criminal reports, eviction reports, and run credit checks. You want to get a full picture of someone before you loan them your most valuable asset. And, most importantly, you want someone who is going to pay rent in full on time.

Tenant screening is a long-term investment. It helps prevent evictions, which are a nightmare. It also helps you find tenants who may become reliable customers in the long run. These are relationships you want.


A small, patched leak in the roof can allow for major damage. A broken dishwasher can lead to flooding. A hole in the ceiling can cause a slew of problems.

Many landlords make the mistake of putting band-aids on maintenance issues that need full repairs. Or they don’t stay organized enough to take care of maintenance issues as they become issues. You need to avoid these mistakes. Maintenance issues can compound in the blink of an eye.

Staying organized, communicating promptly, and managing issues is critical when it comes to maintenance.


Always remember you’re running a business. It’s great to build solid relationships with tenants. It’s great to communicate proactively with tenants. It’s great to understand who they are and where they’re coming from. But not at the expense of your business.

You’re trying to turn a profit and it’s not your job to be your tenants’ friend. So, one thing you need to avoid is accepting unreasonable partial payments. We’re living in difficult times, so some understanding goes a long way. That being said, tenants need to pay rent.

It’s not easy tracking everything and hunting down late payments. Thankfully, property management software can help with this by assessing automatic late fees, sending out automated reminders, and tracking payment dates. It may be a good option for you to consider for your business as a whole.

At the end of the day, you want to build relationships with tenants, but it doesn’t behoove you to make things too personal.


Educating yourself about laws and regulations is a necessity. You need to understand what you can and cannot do. You also need to understand how to run your business within the applicable rules. Research your specific state laws. Understand regulations and how they impact your business. Talk to a lawyer if you need to.

Not understanding the “rules of the game” will destroy your profits. Imagine trying to play a sport without first understanding the rules. It would lead to disaster. It’s the same with your rental business. You need to know how to navigate the landscape and avoid land mines.


As a landlord, it’s always better to be proactive rather than reactive. But no matter how proactive you are, you will make some mistakes.

However, minimizing your mistakes and avoiding the five pitfalls we’ve discussed will help you turn a profit.

So, go do some research, educate yourself, and take action!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Ten Mistakes That Will Keep Your Home From Selling

When you’re selling your home, you need every advantage you can get. And there are few homes that are magically market ready without a little help. If your home needs a touch more than a little help, it’s time to get focused. After all, listing your home when it’s not in the right condition to sell will probably only end in frustration. And, in this case, frustration means: your home sitting on the market for months with no offers or the errant, offensive, lowball.

If you want to make sure you get home sold quickly and for the right price, you’ll want to avoid listing it with the following:

1. Excessive damage

Maybe the home you’re selling was used as a rental and trashed by frat boy tenants, or maybe you just haven’t kept it up as you should. Either way, those holes in the wall that look like the living room was used as a boxing gym, the scratched-up wood floors on which dinosaurs have clearly been racing, and the yard that’s barren except for those two-foot-tall patches of weeds are not what buyers are looking for. Unless you’re planning to offer your house for a price that will make buyers emphasize the good and ignore the bad and the ugly, it’s going to need some attention.

2. Carpet in the bathroom

It’s just gross. And everyone who walks into that bathroom is thinking one of two things: 1) There’s gotta be mold under there; 2) There’s gotta be pee on the floor around that toilet. This is one update you’ll want to do before you list. Or, if you’re already listed and your home’s not selling.

3. Big, nasty stains

A buyer shouldn’t know where your dog likes to mark or where your kids spilled the entire bowl of holiday punch. If the stains on your carpet are that bad, potential buyers will stroll in and run right back out. No one wants to buy a pigsty. Invest a few bucks in new carpet. You’ll make the money back since you won’t have to drop your sales price.

4. Pet smells

Speaking of pets…they smell. You probably don’t notice since you live with them everyday, but buyers will, and it might be enough to turn them off. Deep clean the carpets and the upholstery, invest in some air fresheners, and remove cat boxes from the house for showings. The last thing you want is a potential buyer referring to your house as “the stinky one.”

5. Loud dogs who bark every time someone approaches the home

One last word on pets. Barking happens, whether it’s your dog or one that belongs to a neighbor. But you don’t need that on the day of your open house. Offering to pay for doggie day care for a neighbor’s pooch can eliminate the issue and help create the serene setting buyers want.

6. Your dead lawn

Lack of curb appeal won’t necessarily kill a deal. In many cases, you won’t even get potential buyers to get out of the car. If the front yard is a mess, buyers will naturally think the mess continues inside.

7. A bad agent

Face it. Not all of them are winners. If your agent is: rude, uninformed, lazy, uncommunicative, belligerent, or unwilling to take your opinions into consideration, get a new one. An agent who isn’t giving their client the right type of attention probably isn’t going to get the job done.

8. Your sloppiness

Those drawers and cabinets you shoved everything into when you cleaned off your kitchen and bathroom cabinets could be a deal breaker for picky buyers. We all know buyers open stuff. They look in drawers, they open cabinets, they examine closets. If these spaces are messy and overstuffed, they may assume there’s not enough storage space.

9. Unreasonable sellers

Big problems in your house can be deal killers, but they can also be deal sealers, if you are reasonable. If your inspection uncovers plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems (or all three!) and you’re unwilling to negotiate, you can kiss that sale goodbye.

10. Bad Taste

Your poor decorating choices and failure to keep up with trends from this year – or century – may haunt you when it’s time to sell. If it’s true that many buyers have no vision—and all you have to do is watch House Hunters and observe a buyer getting hung up on a paint color to know that’s true – then you are really in for it with your crowded house full of ugly, outdated crap. A few simple updates can help it to look fresh and give buyers something to fall in love with.

Not sure where to start? Give us a call, we have a contractor who will wait to get paid for their work at closing. They don’t charge fees, interest and no catch!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How to Handle Your Home Sale Falling Through

Selling a home can be an emotional and stressful experience. Then, finally, you find a buyer and you feel a huge sense of relief. You’re ready to pack up and move on.

What happens if your contract doesn’t actually make it to closing, however?

It’s easy to feel defeated and emotionally pretty upset, but you can bounce back.

Understand Why It Fell Through

One of the big things you need to do to move forward is get a handle on why your deal fell through. This is important so you can prevent it from happening again.

Contingencies are what protect a buyer from running into often unpleasant surprises.

A few reasons why home sales fall through include:

• A home inspector finds something that would be expensive for the buyer to repair.
• Your home appraises for less than the sale price.
• There’s an open lien on your property uncovered by a title search.
• Your buyer’s financing falls through.

Initially, if you run into one of the situations above, you’ll try to bring the contract back to life, but sometimes you just can’t.

Minimize Your Risk for the Next Time

So, that deal you were counting on can’t be revived, but you can do some things to minimize your risk going forward.

First, get a pre-listing inspection.

If there was an issue with the appraisal, you’ll need to work with your agent to get the price right.

Get title insurance for coverage if issues arise, and you should ask for a pre-approval letter with each offer, so you don’t have to worry about buyer financing falling through.

Also, be careful with buyers the next time around and watch for red flags.

Signs a buyer is going to back out can include not meeting deadlines and returning necessary paperwork, not returning calls, and making a lot of requests for contract changes.

Evaluate Your Marketing and Your Agent

If a deal falls through, it might be through no fault of your agent, but you should still re-think your marketing plan and perhaps make sure your agent really is a good fit before you go back on the market.

Maybe you make a few small updates to your home and re-do your real estate photos to give you a fresh start when you go back on the market.

Also, if you feel let down by your agent and you’ve noticed a pattern of behavior that’s less than supportive in the sale of your home, you might want to find someone else.

Sometimes changing agents and finding someone with a strong reputation of successfully selling homes in your specific area can make a world of difference.

If you bring in a new agent and a fresh set of eyes, you may discover that not only do you need to change up your marketing, but it could be time for a price change. A new agent might also be not just more aggressive in terms of pricing but also strategy. Maybe you need someone who is going to do even more to spread the word.

You also want an agent who going forward, works to have a backup offer. If your agent doesn’t rely too heavily on any one offer, it’s a good way to protect you if something falls through again.

For example, a good agent will often keep holding showings and open houses until a house has been closed on to make sure they’re ready if something goes wrong. If your current agent didn’t do that, it might be time to move on.

Don’t Be Discouraged

It’s really an emotional letdown when you think you’ve sold your home, particularly if it’s been on the market for a while.

If it does fall through, however, don’t let yourself get too discouraged.

Bounce back by evaluating what went wrong and working to make sure those are things that don’t happen again in the future.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

When Do Mortgage Points Make Sense?

Right now, mortgage rates are rising fast following several years of record lows. This leaves potential homebuyers wondering how they can beat the rates, and one option is buying mortgage points. With mortgage points, you can save money, but they don’t always make sense in every situation.

Mortgage points are a fee you, as a borrower, would pay a lender to reduce your interest rate on a home loan. You’ll hear it referred to as buying down the rate.

Each point you’re buying will cost 1% of your mortgage amount. If you’re getting a $400,000 mortgage, a point would cost $4,000.

Each point will usually lower your rate by 0.25%. One point would reduce your mortgage rate from, let’s say, 6% to 5.75% for the life of your loan.

However, there’s variation in how much every point will lower the rate. How much mortgage points can reduce your interest rate depends on the loan type and the general environment for interest rates.

You can buy more than a point, or you can buy a fraction of a point.

Your points are paid when you close, and you’ll see them listed on your loan estimate document. You receive the loan estimate document after applying for a mortgage, and you’ll also see them on your closing disclosure, which you get right before you close on your loan.

There are also mortgage origination points and fees you pay to a lender for originating, reviewing, and processing your loan. These usually cost 1% of the total mortgage.

These don’t directly reduce your interest rate. Lenders might let a borrower get a loan with no origination points, but usually, that’s in exchange for other fees or a higher interest rate.

To determine when mortgage points make sense, you have to calculate what’s known as your breakeven point. This is when borrowers can recover what they spent on prepaid interest. To calculate this, you start with what you paid for the points and divide that amount by how much money you’re saving each month with the reduced rate.

Let’s say the figure you get when calculating your breakeven point is 60 months. That means you would need to stay in your home for 60 months to recover what you spent on discount points.

If you’re buying a home you plan to stay in for a long time, then the additional costs of mortgage points to lower your interest rate can make financial sense.

If you doubt you’ll stay in your home for the long term, it’s probably not right for you.

If you don’t stay in the home for long enough, you will ultimately lose money.

At the same time, as you consider whether or not mortgage points are right for you, you should consider your down payment. You could be better off putting money towards a more significant down payment than points. If you make a larger down payment, you might be able to secure a lower interest rate. Plus, if you make a down payment of at least 20%, you can avoid the added cost of PMI.

Bigger down payments mean you’re lowering your loan-to-value ratio or the size of your mortgage in comparison to the value of your home.

The takeaway is not to assume that buying mortgage points is always the right option. You need to consider how long you will stay in the home and your breakeven point.

Seller Concessions:
In today’s market, sellers are offer large concessions to get their properties sold and as your realtor, we can help you lower your interest rate by having the seller pay for all or a portion of the rate buy-down. Give us a call today to find out how you can save thousands over the life of your loan.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Four Things That Will Hurt Your Credit Scores

Credit scores are simply a numerical reflection of your current credit and payment patterns. Typically, the higher the score the better the credit. Building solid credit, especially at a young age, is relatively easy to do. Open up a credit account and pay it back on time. Conversely there are things that will lower your credit scores. Here are four of them.

The first and foremost is your payment patterns. Scores will drop precipitously when payments are late. Not late if your payment is due on the 15th and you pay on the 17th, but more than 30 days past the due date. That’s when scores will drop the most and the quickest. Avoiding these late pays will help scores but making payments more than 30 days past the due dates certainly will. They’ll fall even further if a payment is made more than 60 and 90 days late.

The next way your scores can falter looks at the outstanding balances compared to credit lines. If for example a credit card has a $5,000 limit and the balance is say $4,500, scores will fall and your overall credit profile will be damaged. Going over the credit line will cause scores to fall even more.  Scores will improve when the balances are kept near one-third of credit lines. For a $10,000 limit then the scores will rise if the balances are approximately $3,000-$4,000. Interestingly, keeping balances at zero won’t actually help scores. The scoring system looks at payment history and if there are no balances there won’t be any payments to observe.

A bankruptcy filing, be it Chapte 13 or 11, will of course hurt scores. Lenders can work around a bankruptcy if it can be shown the bankruptcy was out of the borrower’s control. A situation where there is a divorce and there are disputed credit accounts is perhaps one example. Another would be a death or extended illness in the family.

Finally, credit inquiries can negatively impact scores. There are two types of inquiries, a hard and a soft inquiry. A soft inquiry is when a credit card company takes a peek at your credit profile to see if they want to extend a credit offer. These have no impact as they’re not initiated by you. A hard inquiry however is a different story. A hard inquiry is a direct request by you for a new account. An isolated hard inquiry won’t hurt credit but several such inquiries within a shortened period of time will.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Getting Help with a Down Payment

A down payment is something you’re likely going to need to get a mortgage to buy a home unless you’re using a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan. Saving up for a down payment is one of the more significant barriers for many people that prevents them from achieving homeownership.

A down payment is an initial payment you make when you buy a house. Down payments are usually calculated as a percentage of the purchase price. The amount can be as little as 3%, but conventional mortgages are generally around 20%.

The specifics of a down payment requirement depend on the type of mortgage you’re applying for, the kind of property you’re buying, and your financial situation.

If you can make a larger down payment, you might be able to get a lower interest rate or buy a more expensive house. Large down payments can also mean you’re responsible for smaller monthly mortgage payments.

Lenders require down payments because it helps reduce their risk exposure. You’re investing in the home, so if you were to stop making your mortgage payments, you’d be walking away from a lot of money. Down payments also reduce how much a lender has to give you to make the purchase.

Not everyone has a large chunk of cash sitting aside to use to buy a house, however. There are down payment assistance programs available, some of which are detailed below.

The Basics of Down Payment Assistance Programs

Down payment assistance programs usually come from state housing finance agencies. Sometimes these programs are also managed and offered by cities and counties and nonprofit organizations.

Types of assistance might include:

• Grants, which are a gift of money that doesn’t need to be repaid.

• Forgivable, zero-interest loans, which don’t have to be repaid as long as the borrower still owns the home and lives in it after whatever the period is—usually somewhere around five years.

• Deferred payment, zero-interest loans, often require no payments until the home is sold, the mortgage reaches the end of its term or the mortgage is refinanced.

• Low-interest loans are available and have to be repaid over a certain period of time. These help homeowners spread their down payment and closing costs over a more extended period rather than having to come up with the money all at once.

Who Can Access Down Payment Assistance?

Most programs offering down payment assistance are geared toward first-time buyers, but not all.

Even if you’ve already owned a home and a program says it’s for first-time buyers, often the program will define a first-time buyer as someone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.

There are also programs for specific demographics, like teachers or first responders.

Most down payment assistance programs will require that you complete specific steps, which vary depending on the program itself. For example, you might have to meet income limits or take a homebuyer education course. You could be required to buy in a particular location or stay below a certain maximum purchase price. Sometimes you’ll have to contribute your own money to your down payment too.

How Can You Find a Program?

If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, you can contact the housing finance authority in your state or your local city or county government. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has state-specific information.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a tool that will link you to housing counselors where you live.

If you are going to apply for a mortgage and use down payment assistance, you’ll have to find a list of mortgage lenders who are approved to work with that particular program. Often, the local agencies and programs assisting can connect you with experienced loan officers.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Does a Pocket Listing Work?

If you watch real estate shows, you might occasionally hear a reference to a pocket listing. A pocket listing is a way for real estate agents to intentionally keep a home off the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) as they look for the right buyer.

A pocket listing isn’t publicly listed, even though it’s for sale. The real estate agent does private showings with potential buyers instead of putting it on the MLS, which is public-facing.

Pocket listings aren’t the same as having a coming soon listing. Coming soon is a way for an agent to designate that a home isn’t listed yet, but shortly will be on the market.

Pocket listings aren’t illegal, but they are frowned upon. The National Association of Realtors, the largest real estate agent professional organization in the country, essentially banned pocket listings for members in 2019. The NAR handbook says that within one business day of marketing a property to the public, the listing broker has to submit it to the MLS.

The NAR wants to ensure cooperation among real estate agents, which was one reason it cracked down on pocket listings. The organization also wants to ensure competition, meaning all buyers have a chance for a listing, and sellers get the chance for the best price.

Some agents can bend the rules to ensure they’re compliant with NAR guidelines while still keeping a listing to themselves.

The policy of the NAR is that listings must be added to the MLS within one business day of the seller signing the listing contract. If a seller signs with a listing agent on a Friday, for example, the agent can use the weekend to do private property marketing.

Why Do Sellers Like Pocket Listings?

It sounds somewhat counterintuitive to do a pocket listing, but there’s a reason some sellers prefer this option. Sellers might like pocket listings because they want to maintain privacy. They control who has access to the property and when, and everyone won’t know they’re selling immediately.

Some sellers like pocket listings to test the market to see what the response will be like to their selling price. With pocket listings, it’s possible to adjust the price without making it look like a price cut that would otherwise show up on the MLS.

The third reason for a pocket listing is that the seller might already have a buyer. A seller might want a listing agent who will sell their property to a specific buyer.

There are ways outside of a pocket listing to achieve the things above, though.

For example, if someone wants the privacy of their listing, they can ask their agent to put the details in the agent’s remarks so they aren’t in the public sections of the listing. They can also ask the agent to verify financing before they agree to showings.

You might miss out on the best possible offer with a pocket listing if you’re a seller. You cannot know whether the buyer you’ve chosen actually has the strongest offer.

There’s also the potential for a listing agent to violate Fair Housing laws if they choose who can see a home. There may be a greater risk of discrimination in these situations, so an agent has to be very careful.

Finally, pocket listings can affect home values negatively. If the sale isn’t in the MLS, it will not show up as a comparable listing if an appraiser or agent tries to determine its worth.

Again, while a pocket listing might have its advantages, they’re something to be cautious of for sellers and their agents because they also have risks.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

What Happens When Companies Buy Houses?

If you’ve ever seen signs for companies that say they buy houses, or maybe you’ve been approached by one, you might find yourself wondering exactly what it is that they do.

There are a couple of different types of companies that buy houses cash. There are those ones that you see advertising in your community, but there are also tech-driven companies that do it.

How Do Home Buying Companies Work?

If you want to sell your house, you typically will hire a real estate agent, and then they’ll place it on the MLS. If you want to sell it fast without doing work or paying a commission, then you might instead try to sell it as-is.

There are companies that buy houses as they currently are for cash. This can mean local cash buyers, investor networks, or iBuyers.

• A local cash buyer is typically just someone who will buy your house and either flip it or turn it into a rental.
• An investor network is one of those companies that you see advertising most often, and they’re local franchises. They don’t pay much for houses because they usually focus on ones that are in pretty bad shape, and then then they flip them.
• Then, there’s the term iBuyer. The term stands for instant buyer. These are companies that use algorithms and data in the form of what are called automated valuation models to determine what your home’s worth. Then, based on their data, they’ll make an offer.

What Are the Benefits for You?

If you want to sell your home quickly, one of the three above cash buyer options can be good.

The vast majority will buy your house just like it currently is, so you don’t have to make repairs or updates, nor do you have to worry about staging it.

They’ll usually be flexible in helping you find financing solutions, and you’re probably going to get a relatively fast closing. These companies don’t have to go through the traditional financing process from a bank, so they might be able to close in seven to 14 days.

You’re also avoiding real estate commissions and closing costs.

Are There Downsides?

While selling your home quickly and easily to a company can seem great, there are certainly some downsides you have to be aware of.

First, there’s a pretty high likelihood you’re not going to get full market value. You’re trading that for simplicity and lower costs.

There’s also always a risk of predatory tactics or even scams.

If a company is trying to pressure you into selling your home for far less than it’s worth, that’s a problem.

There are a lot of legitimate companies that do buy houses for cash, but not all of them are completely legit. You have to do some research if you’re thinking about having a company buy your house to make sure it’s not a scam.

How Does the Process Work?

If you’re interested in the direct-buying model, which is ultimately what all the examples above are considered, then you might wonder what the process looks like.

Companies might vary slightly in how they do things, but typically, the home buying company might come to you, or you could approach them. The buyer or company will get some general information, and then they’ll schedule a walk-through.

The buyer will determine the market value of the home once any updates or repairs are made. At that point, they’ll present the seller with an offer, which will include the price they’re willing to pay, a closing date, and terms of the sale.

There are negotiations, and then once everyone accepts the offer, a closing date is set.

When it comes to direct buyers you just have to think about what your priorities are and how those weigh against the potential downsides. If your biggest goal is to move quickly and avoid having two mortgages, a home buying company can be a good option if they’re reputable.

If you’re in no rush and you want the highest price for your home, then you might go the traditional route in selling it.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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