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Buying a house in the US

Buying a house in the US

Old Aug 27th 2004, 3:31 pm
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Default Buying a house in the US

Just wanted to pick your brains on the procedure and cost of buying a house in the US (PA specifically).

Initial questions are:

i) How do you get to view a house you like the look of on the internet?
ii) What exactly are the fee's associated with buying a house - either % or $?

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Lottie

PS - Currently have been living in an apartment over here for 3 wks and neither me nor hubby can bear the thought of another 5 months and 1 wk!! Apartment lovely, but so not used to hearing other people's noises!!!
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Old Aug 27th 2004, 4:07 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

If there is a scheduled "Open house" that means the day is open for anyone to show up whenever and have a good root around. If the house does not have an Open day... then you call the estate agent and schedule an appointment.

I'm not sure on fees to be honest you have to talk to someone that has bought rather than just looked at houses or ask the estate agent when you talk to them.

Now as for PA... where are you looking. I actually grew up in North Western PA and now Hubby and I are working on moving back.

I think its a lovely place...

Holly
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Old Aug 27th 2004, 4:08 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Well you might want to get a Realtor......

First caveat the details vary from state to state, with that being said and with my experiance being mainly Colorado:

Estate Agents = Realtors but they also do some of the work a Solicitor would do in the UK.

Sometimes it seems like everybody who I speak to knows one, has a friend/ relation who is one or was one at some point in their life.

They are licensed by a State Board and have to pass an exam, not sure how hard that can be.

Usually you have a Realtor for the Sellor and one for the Buyer. Both are paid from the proceeds of the sale, here it is just over 7%.

Most if not all States have a Mutiple Listing Service, MLS. Search under MLS and your State. This a data base with all Realtor properties on it, usually there will be some additional information only the Realtor can get.

Despite the high comission most sales have Realtors involved, there are SellByOwner and variants but I think well over 95% of the Houses we saw were with Realtors.

The Buyers realtors does all the hard work, they have to take you around, usually there are lock boxes on the doors and the people selling will vacate for an hour whilst you and your Agent look around.

I would suggest spending a couple of weekends first going around the open houses in the areas you are looking at.

The market where we are is flat, I also used the local County web site because I could find out what the local County appraiser had valued the houses at, not just the ones on the market but also in areas we were looking at but did not have the house we wanted on the market at the time.

I had a long chat with our local Appraise the other day, here they revalue every 2 years, legally they are required to be within 5% of the market value at the valuation date, they reckon on average to be within 1%. This is not a perfect measure but if someone wanted a lot more than tax I would be wondering why.

I had big arguements with our Realtor about this, she was more interested in Comparables, but in most cases my methodology worked out OK.

We met our Realtor at an Open House, we appointed her in the end for 2 reasons I think, she was not so pushy as many we had come across and she got on well with my wife!
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Old Aug 27th 2004, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Great information, Boiler!
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Old Aug 29th 2004, 3:41 am
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Lottie
Just wanted to pick your brains on the procedure and cost of buying a house in the US (PA specifically).

Initial questions are:

i) How do you get to view a house you like the look of on the internet?
ii) What exactly are the fee's associated with buying a house - either % or $?
....
Have a look at Realtor.com. Aside from being able to look for houses, it has lots of useful info (check the tabs across the top of the page as well as the links down the side), such as possible mortgage rates.

Also try here (I can't find Realtor's mortgage calculator, they seem to have (re)moved it. ) on Wachovia's web site, they give mortgage rates for whatever figures you put in, and an estimate of closing costs - which is a pretty scary figure compared to the UK as there are all manner of fees and charges.

For example a simple "zero points" (a point is an up-front percentage point paid to get a lower interest rate, worthwhile (only) if you are planning to stay put for several years) $160,000 mortgage on a $200,000 house in New Jersey is going to attract in the region of $6,000 of closing costs!
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Old Aug 29th 2004, 4:06 am
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

I amnot to sure to start with Mortgages. You might think that they at least were similar but not really.

There was a very good post about the way that US works a month or so ago.

For some reason still 30 year motgages with the consequent higher rate seem the norm, even for people who know they are going to move by then or are in their 50's.

But I would mention that it was going to take a month at least to get an International Credit Report for me so we just went with my Wife's credit standing.

Last edited by Boiler; Aug 29th 2004 at 4:28 am.
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Old Aug 29th 2004, 4:53 am
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Boiler
I amnot to sure to start with Mortgages. You might think that they at least were similar but not really.

There was a very good post about the way that US works a month or so ago.
This is the thread, dod you have any particular post in mind, or just the thread in general?
For some reason still 30 year motgages with the consequent higher rate seem the norm, even for people who know they are going to move by then or are in their 50's. ......
Simple, aside from an interest only mortgage, a thirty year mortgage will require the lowest payments.
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Old Aug 29th 2004, 6:18 am
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Pulaski
This is the thread, dod you have any particular post in mind, or just the thread in general?

Simple, aside from an interest only mortgage, a thirty year mortgage will require the lowest payments.
Sorry, should have made myself clear, 30 year Fixed Rate Mortgages.

We went with what they call a 3 year ARM, but unlike the UK the annual rate increase is capped and the overall rate is capped, well I do not think that you can get that in the UK.

Seemed a big lock in to me but all depends on what you are used to.
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Old Aug 30th 2004, 5:08 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Thanks for all the advice and web, thread links....

Boiler:
You said -"Usually you have a Realtor for the Sellor and one for the Buyer. Both are paid from the proceeds of the sale, here it is just over 7%."

Does this mean that I don't physically pay my realtor anything (as a first time buyer) ??? Seems a little too good to be true - have I got hold of the wrong end of the stick??

Pulaski:
The Wachovia calculator is fantastic, I'd heard of closing fees in really etheral terms before, but the break down for them is just what I was looking for.

Holly:
We're about 30 miles (ish) outside Philadelphia, currently living on the Main line. Not sure if we will buy here as v.expensive, but gorgeous houses. Hubby works in King of Prussia and I'll be working in Wayne soon, so somewhere close(ish) by to those towns, nice area, but good value factor! Any thoughts/ideas appreciated.

Lottie
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Old Aug 30th 2004, 5:40 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Lottie
Does this mean that I don't physically pay my realtor anything (as a first time buyer) ??? Seems a little too good to be true - have I got hold of the wrong end of the stick??
Not only should you not pay anything as a buyer, but if you shop your realtor carefully, you can often dip into their commission as well. This could range from a free appliance, to a $1000 in gas cards, to a check in the mail after closing. Aim for taking up to 1% of the selling price off them as generally they’ll be getting around 3%. It’s a free trip for first time buyers. Of course, you’ll be paying through the nose when you come round to sell, so don’t feel too bad about it.
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Old Aug 30th 2004, 6:21 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by fatbrit
Not only should you not pay anything as a buyer, but if you shop your realtor carefully, you can often dip into their commission as well. This could range from a free appliance, to a $1000 in gas cards, to a check in the mail after closing. Aim for taking up to 1% of the selling price off them as generally they’ll be getting around 3%. It’s a free trip for first time buyers. Of course, you’ll be paying through the nose when you come round to sell, so don’t feel too bad about it.
Probably will get the best deal if you have done most of your homework first so they see you as an easy and early close.

I am hoping.... that the system change by the time we come to sell!

We went up market a bit, we got 1% off the purchase. Which paid a lot of the costs in selling the old one.

Now you may get lucky, but the housing market here is not the easy ride to profits as its has been in the UK. Even in the Republic of Boulder you can still build outside town limits if you have 35 acres, and people bitch about the strict planning controls, non existant by most standards.

I would look at HOA's covenants, they can be strict as to what you can do Homeowners Association.

September is the Colorado Parade of Homes, where Housebuliders exhibit their latest and best, might be something similar near you, need to get used to the change of style and size.
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Old Aug 30th 2004, 7:24 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Boiler
Probably will get the best deal if you have done most of your homework first so they see you as an easy and early close.

I am hoping.... that the system change by the time we come to sell!

We went up market a bit, we got 1% off the purchase. Which paid a lot of the costs in selling the old one.

Now you may get lucky, but the housing market here is not the easy ride to profits as its has been in the UK. Even in the Republic of Boulder you can still build outside town limits if you have 35 acres, and people bitch about the strict planning controls, non existant by most standards.

I would look at HOA's covenants, they can be strict as to what you can do Homeowners Association.

September is the Colorado Parade of Homes, where Housebuliders exhibit their latest and best, might be something similar near you, need to get used to the change of style and size.
Think commission varies a bit by area, but the 3% to the buyer broker seems about average in AZ. The seller broker ranges from 1% to 4%, 1% giving you a listing in MLS and a sign but nothing else. However, the other stuff you can always do yourself after watching a few of those H&G or TLC programmes. Or if you’re not in a hurry and have plenty of patience, you can try the FSBO route for a while. Many realtors give you a package deal if you list, sell and then buy a new one with them.



HOAs seem difficult to avoid in the SW unless you buy a much older property. The question to ask is about the chairperson – if s/he is an ex-govt. employee who’s just retired, avoid at all costs! They’ll have nothing to do but wander round the subdivision looking for minor infringements all day. However, if like our sweet HOA, all they’re really bothered about is that your neighbour doesn’t paint the house purple or leave a car standing on bricks in the front drive for too long, they’re livable with.

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Old Aug 30th 2004, 8:32 pm
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Talking Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by fatbrit

[size=2
HOAs seem difficult to avoid in the SW unless you buy a much older property. The question to ask is about the chairperson – if s/he is an ex-govt. employee who’s just retired, avoid at all costs! They’ll have nothing to do but wander round the subdivision looking for minor infringements all day. However, if like our sweet HOA, all they’re really bothered about is that your neighbour doesn’t paint the house purple or leave a car standing on bricks in the front drive for too long, they’re livable with.[/size]
So what happens if you do paint your house purple or have your car standing on bricks in your drive? Do you get evicted?
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Old Aug 30th 2004, 8:36 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Originally Posted by Englishmum


So what happens if you do paint your house purple or have your car standing on bricks in your drive? Do you get evicted?
Last person did it was placed in the stocks in the village square and had Big Macs thrown at 'em.
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Old Sep 1st 2004, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Buying a house in the US

Thanks for all the advice - really helpful as always!!
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