Financing your home….

moneyOne of the most commonly asked questions for me is ‘how do I get financing for my purchase’.  There are many different types of mortgages, but some of the most common are:

Conventional loans are not government-insured, so lenders typically require 20% downpayment, although I have seen conventional loans with large PMI (Mortgage Insurance that protects the lender) that will loan as low as 5%.  Keep in mind that anything less than 20% down will required this insurance and increases the monthly mortgage payment considerably.

FHA loans are federally insured loans that allow qualified borrowers to borrow with a lower downpayment of 3.5%.  This loan also includes monthly PMI.

Other common loans in Nome and Kotzebue are:

  • HUD184 available to Alaska Natives, with a 2.25% downpayment.
  • USDA/RD has zero downpayment, but there are some upfront guarantee fees and income restrictions
  • VA loans are available for eligible veterans.  Often veterans can purchase a home with zero down, and the loan terms are very favorable.

In addition to rules about who can borrow on the government insured loans, the lender will have requirements for the property you are trying to purchase.  A fixer-upper may not work for your loan program.

These programs are available from most lenders, but beware of the ‘found on the internet’ lenders.  If the lender is not familiar with the challenges of living and doing business in Alaska, you WILL have problems with closing.  Feel free to give me a call to discuss qualifying for a loan or to find out if your lender has successfully been able to close properties here!


Now is a great time to buy!

According to Freddie Mac reports for last week, 30-year-fixed mortgages averaged 4.01%, a slight decrease from the prior week and much less than the reported average of 4.35% from November 2013!


Sand is free!

With the crazy Nome temps right now, don’t hesitate to head down to the beach for a few buckets of sand. It works wonderfully to increase traction on icy driveways/walkways, its environmentally safe and best of all it’s FREE!


Property Disclosure Statements

One of the documents that is required by the State of Alaska in any property transaction is a property disclosure statement. One more packet of paper, I can hear you moan, but this is a very important one for both buyer and seller.

As a seller, you should give as much detail as possible about repairs, remodels and age of mechanicals. Why? Quite simply so that you have a defense if something repeats itself. By disclosing a repair item, you are giving your buyer the opportunity to either accept it or not. Failure to disclose a material defect in a house is one of the most common (and costly!) causes of after sale lawsuit.

If you are buying a home, this should answer a lot of questions. Is the toilet prone to freeze ups? Does the roof leak? Does the boiler shut off in windstorms? Is the refrigerator or dishwasher included in the sale?

Failure to actually read these documents can be very costly. And waiving these documents are foolish for everyone involved.

If you are a seller and would like a blank disclosure statement I would be happy to provide you with one, even if you are trying to sell your home yourself. Give me a call at 907-304-2871!


“Owner Financed” why and how to

There are lots of reasons someone would offer to owner finance a property:

  • Owner collects the interest instead of the bank
  • No required appraisal or lender required repairs
  • Easier to ‘qualify’ for the buyer
  • It won’t pass lender health & safety issues

But there are some hidden dangers for the buyer, so if you are considering an owner finance do not buy anything that is done with ‘Quit Claim Deed’.  Make sure to use a reputable title company to ensure ‘Warranty Deed’ (call me, I can recommend one), a licensed escrow agency, and be sure that reconveyance documents are signed at the time of sale to be held by the title or escrow company.

A contract for sale where title is transferred at payoff leaves a buyer vulnerable, as liens can be attached to the property (think IRS or Child Support) or the owner could pass away before title is transferred.

I personally buy and sell using owner finance options, but I also have spent a lot of time clearing title on properties that were done incorrectly with Quit Claim Deeds.  Feel free to call me if you have any questions about owner financing your property, or buying an owner finance.


How to stop a toilet from overflowing

toilet-insideA toilet works by gravity: The water in the tank—just enough to fill  the bowl—drops down and pushes waste through the drain. The float drops, opening a valve that lets in water to refill the bowl and the tank simultaneously. The valve closes when the float rises far enough to shut off the water.

If the water from the tank can’t leave the bowl fast enough, then the refill will spill over. To stop the refill action, take off the top of the tank, grab the float, and pull it up to close the valve. That should give you time to reach down and shut off the water, or at least wait for some of the water in the bowl to drain.

A great book for homeowners is The Black & Decker Complete Guide to Plumbing for Homeowners, available on Amazon. It covers simple repairs like changing a faucet, Codes, how to install Pex, and is a wealth of information.


Nome Sweet Homes for pets

I recently stumbled upon an article discussing ways to build your house to be more suitable for your pets. The article discussed small features in homes to enable cats to better travel through the house. These types of modifications appear rather simple and fun.

Maybe architecturally changing a home to fit a pet is a step too far?
If so, how about other modifications to the home? I know I have seen the plywood ‘cover’ on parts of the step grates to make it more gentle on Rover’s paws.

I built my bed extremely high off the ground so my 80 pound husky would have a cozy ‘cubby’ for sleeping.

Have you tried any modifications that have failed? Succeeded? Would you consider architectural modifications to your home in order to make it more suitable for your pet?


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