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By Frank Dolski Associate Broker | Agent in 18901
  • What is a U & O? Does Every Township Require Them?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Glen Mills, Property Q&A in Glen Mills, Home Ownership in Glen Mills  |  April 10, 2014 11:59 AM  |  464 views  |  No comments
    As an Associate Broker/Realtor, my job is to inform buyers and sellers if a U & O is required prior to settlement.  This Typically from State to State, Township to Township and is a very important aspect of being able to settle on a property.

    According to the definition in Wikopedia, a U & O is:

    1. Use and Occupancy. An official authorization or permit to inhabit a building or dwelling, usually issued upon successful completion of a final building inspection after construction and/or renovation is complete. Also referred to as a "certificate of occupancy" or "occupancy permit".

    I list and sell many homes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. One of the areas that requires a U & O is Wawrick Township.  This is required for all new construction and for resale. The use and occupancy requirements vary form each area and it is imperative as a Realtor, buyer or seller, that you familiarize yourself in the areas which you are looking to purchase or sell a home. Typically, you can go to the township website and obtain the information and forms for this process.

    Buckingham Township only requires a U & O for new construction and not for resale. Chalfont Boro requires a U & O for new construction and resale but Solebury Township only requires one for new construction. As you may well find out, they differ in scope in each area.  In fact, there are ordinances that must be followed in each township and fines could be given.  Please give yourself 3 to 4 weeks for inspection prior to settlement and any items that need repair must be done prior to settlement unless that area issues a temporary U & O which gives the new owners time after settlement to repair the issues if any. Some of the items that are tested are smoke detectors, indoor fire sprinklers and more.  

    Please contact me if you are cons1dering to list or buy a home and I will be glad to assist you in this process. There is a difference!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103
  • First Time Home Buyers? Putting Your Fears To Rest!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Glen Mills, Financing in Glen Mills, Home Ownership in Glen Mills  |  September 29, 2013 12:43 PM  |  625 views  |  No comments

    Am I ready to buy my first home?

    Purchasing a home is probably one of the largest investments you will ever make. As a renter, once your monthly rental payments are made, they are gone forever.  When you own your home, however, you can deduct the cost of your mortgage loan interest from your federal income taxes, and usually from your state taxes, saving you a lot each year by covering a chunk of your monthly payments. You can also deduct property taxes you pay as a homeowner. Typically, the value of your home may go up over the years. Best of all, you'll enjoy owning something that's all yours - a home where you can express your own personal style.

    Take a look at your financial situation and know your credit score. Take a look HERE to find out how your credit score is derived.  The better your credit score, the better rate you'll get for a mortgage and the lower your payments will be.  Your credit score is a critical piece to the home-buying puzzle.

    How much money will I need to purchase a home?

    A number of factors influence how much money you'll need to have on hand, including the cost of the house and the type of mortgage you get. In general, you need to come up with enough money to cover three costs: earnest money - the deposit you make on the home when you submit your offer, demonstrating to the seller that you are serious about wanting to buy the house. Your real estate broker will put this money into an escrow account and if the offer is accepted then the money will go towards closing costs and if the offer is rejected then it will be returned to you; the down payment, a percentage of the cost of the home that you must pay when you go to settlement. This can range anywhere from 3.5% for a FHA  Insured Loan up to 20% as required by many lenders; and closing costs; the costs associated with processing the paperwork to buy a house, typically 3-4% of the cost of the home.
    *Another cost for the buyer, although minor, is the cost of the inspection and appraisal of the property once an offer is accepted.  

    The Game Plan

    Get decided-approved for a loan! 
    One of the first things buyers should do is talk to a qualified lender and obtain a pre-approval-approved for a mortgage so you know what you can and cannot afford. This is also something that will be required when placing an offer on a home.
    The entire mortgage approval process can take from 3-6 weeks so get a head start gathering your documents that will be required, including:

    • W2 statements (or 1099 income statements) for the last two years
    • Federal tax returns for the last two years
    • Bank statements for the last few months
    • Recent pay stubs and proof of other income
    • Proof of investment income

    Obtain a great buyers agent! Buyers can rely heavily on knowledgeable Realtors to help them with the entire home purchasing process, from contract to closing!. After all, buyer’s agents have a fiduciary responsibility to the buyer exclusively — and should be looking out for your best interests. Use an agent recommended by a relative or friend. Interview the candidates regarding their experience; ask if they have worked with first-time buyers before and what kind of service you’ll get from them.
    Shop for a mortgage lender.  There are many different types of mortgages available - pick one to meet your personal financial goals. You should compare rates and services from a few lenders and decide on which lender to use. As with Realtors, there is a difference!

    Fixed-rate vs. adjustable-rate loans. The most common type of mortgage is a fixed-rate mortgage. With a fixed-rate loan, the rate stays the same over the life of the loan. The big advantage to this type of mortgage is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your monthly mortgage payments will remain the same from year to year.
    On the other hand, adjustable rate mortgages, or usually as they’re often called, have an interest rate that changes based on what happens to interest rates in the economy. If interest rates drop, your mortgage payment should drop. But if they go up, your payment will go up. They typically appeal to many first-time home buyers because their initial rates and monthly payments are lower, making them easier to qualify.

    30-year vs. 15-year. This refers to the term of the mortgage, or the number of years it takes to pay off the mortgage. 30-year mortgages are the easiest to qualify for and are the most common. 15-year mortgages are much harder to qualify for and have higher monthly payments because you’re paying off the house in half the time. The obvious benefit to a 15 year is that you pay off the loan and build equity faster than you would with a 30-year mortgage. If you have a goal to pay off your home as quickly as possible, you can make extra payments on a 30-year loan as long as your loan doesn't have a condition- payment penalty. 

    Balloon mortgages.  The way this mortgage works is that you make small monthly payments for a fixed number of years — usually five to seven — and then you’re required to pay off the loan in one giant lump sum. Balloon mortgages are a dangerous proposition and can result in foreclosure and bankruptcy.

    FHA loans. An FHA loan is a home loan insured and backed by the federal government. FHA loans offer low down payments and lower interest rates than traditional home loans. They’re geared towards first-time homeowners who might not have cash to pay the full 20% on a down payment. To apply for a FHA loan, you’ll need to find a FHA-approved lender and meet a few requirements. There are some downsides to FHA loans. First, you’re required to purchase an upfront mortgage insurance premium of 1% of the total loan. You also pay a modest fee with each monthly payment for the life of the loan. Check out the Federal Housing Administration's website for more info about applying for an FHA loan. '

    Start shopping! Your real estate agent will take you to a number of homes that meet your specifications. Click HERE to obtain a useful form to help you narrow down your choices during your home search. Once you have decided on 'your top choice', it's time to make an offer.
    When you make an offer, the possible answers are yes, no, or a counteroffer. Don’t expect to get a “yes” on your first offer. The buyer will likely return with a counteroffer. You can either accept it or give another counter. Once a verbal offer has been agreed upon by both parties, a "Purchase Contract" is drawn up.
    The purchase contract essentially puts everything you negotiated verbally into writing. The typical clauses you see in a purchase contract include the following:

    • Legal description of the property, including zoning information
    • Purchase price and terms of the sale
    • Down payment to be held in escrow, and future payment structure
    • Closing date — when the deed will change hands
    • Any items included in the sale, such as appliances and furniture
    • Seller's Disclosure - Required in Pennsylvania but my vary from state to state. Sellers fill out a PAR document (for PA) with questions regarding various questions about the condition of the home, defects and structural changes.
    • Disclosure of lead paint (lead-based paint disclosure form for buildings built before 1978)
    • Home warranties and warranties on appliances
    • Commissions, if any. (Typically not customary for a buyer)
    • Initials, signatures and dates.

    Your purchase contract will likely have contingencies that could void the contract if they’re not met. Common contingencies include home inspections, and appraisal contingencies, loan approval independent commitment, and a free and clear title (Title Search).
    Home Inspection & Appraisals are arranged and paid for by the buyer. The buyers agent can often set these meetings up on behalf of the buyer.
    It is important to obtain an independent inspection. Although some homes have been inspected by the sellers inspector, don't rely on this information, it is best to obtain an independent inspection to address your specific concerns. Even on new construction!
    Appraisals - 
    The mortgage broker will typically provide a list of approved appraisers. The mortgage broker wants to make sure that the home is actually worth what they’re giving you the mortgage for. If the appraiser reports that the value of the home is less than the contracted price, your lender will likely not give you the loan. The appraisal contingency will provide you two options. 1) renegotiate with the seller for a lower price or - 2) walk away from the deal. The buyers also reserve the right to purchase the home if more than 20% is put down or it is a cash offer. (Check with your lender, Realtor or attorney!)

    Home Owners Insurance

    After the home passes inspection and this contingency is removed and the appraisal is approved, home owners insurance will need to be obtained.  This insurance will be required by your mortgage broker prior to finalizing your loan approval and most definitely prior to settlement. Ask friends, family or your Realtor which insurance companies they use and call those companies for a quote. Obtain more than one quote and compare coverages and cost. The cost of homeowner’s insurance (as well as property taxes) is often rolled into your mortgage payment. The mortgage lender puts that money in an escrow account and pays the cost of homeowner’s insurance and taxes when due.  You may also have the option to pay this yourselves depending on the lender.

    Finalizing Your Loan

    In the few weeks leading up to the closing date, your mortgage broker will be underwriting your mortgage application. The underwriter will likely ask for more documents or they’ll have questions about the documents that you may have already provided. Be prepared to provide documents sometimes up to the day before closing!


    Depending on the complexity of the sale, closings usually takes about an hour. As a buyer, you’re going to have a huge stack of papers to sign and initial. To ensure that the closing goes smoothly, bring the following items (required by your lender):

    • A certified or cashier’s check. Federal law requires that you be told the exact amount of the check you need to bring to closing at least one day before settlement. You will have to pay the down payment, plus the closing costs — usually 3 to 5 percent of your home purchase price minus your earnest money deposit. The closing agent will tell you whether you need one check or two and to whom they should be payable.Wiring money is also an option.  Do not bring personal checks or cash.
    • Proof of insurance. The closing agent needs to see proof you have the insurance in effect on closing day. Your lender likely has a copy of your proof of insurance, but bring an extra copy just in case.
    • Photo ID. The closing agent needs to know you are who you say you are. A driver’s license and a second form of identification or current passport will do the trick.
    • Your Realtor or Attorney. Especially if you are a first-time buyer, you should have someone with you who understands the process and represents your interests. In some states, you’re required to have an attorney present. Check your local laws to find out if that’s the case for you.
    • Purchase and Sales Contract. Just in case you need to double-check a detail against closing costs.
    • HUD-1 - According to the RESPA act, the HUD form is to be used by all lenders of loans providing funds for real estate purchases and refinances of real estate loans and must be given to the borrow at least one day prior to the date of settlement.
    • The deed and other paperwork must be filled out by both the sellers and the buyers.  The bulk of the paperwork is signed and initialed by the buyers but the sellers have paperwork to sign as well.  Both parties or assigned representatives must sign the HUD-1 form.
    • After all the paperwork is reviewed, signed and notarized, the sellers will hand over the keys, garage door openers and home warranty (if offered)  and other information.

    Now you have purchased your new home! This is a very exciting time especially for first time home buyers! So, ENJOY! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or visit my website for tons of information!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Affiliated Coldwell Banker International Realtors
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award
    2010-2011 Coldwell Banker International President’s Circle Award
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103

  • Buying New Construction? Don't Forget To Have A Realtor Represent You!

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Glen Mills, Home Buying in Glen Mills, Home Ownership in Glen Mills  |  May 21, 2013 6:02 AM  |  399 views  |  No comments
    New Construction? Don't Forget Your Realtor

    Buyers consider new construction for many reasons, whether it be the 'new house smell', or the alluring blank canvas on which to make your house a home.  When a buyer visits a new construction site, it seems to be a one stop shop with a builder's Realtor ready and willing to help you select a model and decide between the plethora of features to meet your needs and desires, dazzling deals and upgrades that you can't possibly live without, a lender who works closely with the builder to offer you the "best" deal and finally an boiler plate contract ready for you to sign on the dotted line....but wait! Are you really getting the best bang for your buck?  Are you making the right decisions based on your options?  Are you picking the best lot and structural upgrades based on future resale? What are your options after all?

    Why do I need a Realtor? Who do I select?

    The Realtor who you find working on site, works directly for the builder. This is clearly explained in the Consumer Notice , which by law, explains agency representation. When making one of the largest financial decisions of your life, it's best to do so with someone who is looking out for your interests - a Buyer's Agent. Buyer's Agents and Seller's Agents work together to strike up a partnership, together arriving at a mutually satisfying agreement.

    Realtors, specifically Buyers Agent's, have experience in many areas that supersede the everyday home buyer.  What can a Realtor offer me?

    1) Expertise in the home sale transaction.  A Realtor can guide you through the process, step by
    step, helping you avoid pit falls and ensuring a smooth transaction.
    2) Source of referrals. A Realtor works closely with vendors in the immediate area and knows who is good, who is reputable, and who would best meet your needs.  One of the first referrals that they will likely provide, is a good home inspector.  Yes, new construction requires a home inspection too! Another critical referral that they will be able to make is supplying you with a list of lenders. Each buyer is financially unique and identifying a lender who is the best fit for the buyer can potentially save the buyer a lot of money over the course of a mortgage.
    3) Master negotiator. A Realtor negotiates for a living, and they are able to negotiate all the terms of the sale, from the price to the upgrades. These often uncomfortable conversations can be had by the Realtor on the buyer's behalf.
    4) No cost to you. Best of all, a Realtor costs nothing to the buyer. The builder pays the Realtor's commissions! If you are told that if you work directly with the builder, they will decrease the price of the home - this is not likely the case.  Commissions are already figured into the cost of the home and moving forward without your own agent will likely end up costing you money at negotiation time.

    What Realtor should I select to represent me?

    A Realtor who has experience working with builders and new construction is the ideal Buyers Agent for this transaction.  The new construction segment of the market is different from negotiate-existing home sales and has its own set of rules and regulations to navigate.  A Realtor who is familiar with the specific builder you are considering, knows what areas the builder is willing to negotiate on and what extras can be obtained.  This is the best way to get the greatest bang for your buck.

    The 2013 market is improving and with it  builders will be less willing to offer the incentives they have offered in the recent past. That isn't to say that there is not room for negotiation. A Realtor will also assist you in negotiate price on your lot premium and upgrades. Therefore,  it's more important that ever to have a Buyers Agent working on your behalf. It cost you nothing. Happy house hunting!

    Frank Dolski   MBA, ABR, e-PRO
    Associate Broker
    Certified Relocation Specialist
    Previews Luxury Home Specialist
    Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors
    215-803-3237 (mobile)
    215-794-1070 x-103

    Ranked #1 In The State of PA in 2012 For All Coldwell Banker Affiliated Realtors!
    2012 Coldwell Banker International President’s Elite Award!
    2012 Top Producing Agent and Agent of the year for Coldwell Banker Hearthside Realtors!
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