Maureen Harmonay - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage



Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 3/26/2019

If this is your first time buying a home, you might feel a bit intimidated by the purchase contract. Contracts are often filled with industry and legal jargon, making them difficult to understand for the average buyer and seller.

Contingencies in particular give some buyers cause for concern because their contract depends on the contingencies being fulfilled. However, in most cases contingencies are pretty standard and only serve to protect the interests of both the buyer and seller during a real estate transaction.

In todayís post, Iím going to give you an introduction to contingency clauses and break down some of the most common contingencies youíll find in todayís real estate purchase contract.

Contingency clause definition

Simply stated, a contingency clause is a statement within a contract that requires a certain event takes place before the contract is considered legally valid. As a result, contingency clauses are used to cancel or invalidate a contract if certain conditions arenít met before the sale is made final. So, if one party fails to meet the obligation of the contingency, the other party is no longer bound by the contract (or required to buy or sell the house).

Contingencies can get confusing when they are vaguely worded in the contract, making them difficult to interpret. In these cases, a court may decide the specific meaning of the clause or determine that it is too vague to be legally upheld.

The other instance in which contingency clauses can be confusing is when a party includes a contingency that is atypical for a real estate purchase contract. Buyers and sellers alike should be wary of unusual contingencies.

The main contingencies

  • Appraisal contingency. Designed to protect the buyer, appraisal contingencies require that a home is appraised at a minimum amount, which is stated in the contract.

  • Financing contingency. Another contingency geared toward protecting buyers is the financing contingency. It states the number of days that a buyer has to secure financing for the home. This allows the buyer to cancel the contract (and offer) if theyíre unable to secure suitable financing for the home.

  • Inspection contingency. One of the most important and most common contingencies is the inspection contingency. It allows the buyer to have the house inspected by a licensed professional within a certain number of days. This protects the buyer against unforeseen expenses and repairs that will need to be made in the near future.

  • House sale and kick-out contingencies. A house sale contingency gives the buyer a certain number of days to sell their home before financing a new one. However, since this can be a risky clause for sellers, a kick-out clause is often included. This contingency allows the seller to keep the home on the market and entertain other offers while the buyer secures financing and sells their other home or homes.





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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 3/19/2019

Once you have bought a new house, you may feel lost as to where to start. Thereís a long checklist of things that you should do to get yourself established in a new space. Here, you'll find a plan on what to do next. 


Get Recommendations On Local People You Can Work With 


Your realtor is a good place to start in asking who they recommend for many types of workers including plumbers, electricians, contractors, and more. You may even want to talk to your next door neighbors and see who they have used in the past for these types of handy work jobs. Even if you donít need any kind of work done immediately, itís a good idea to have some names and numbers on hand for future reference.


Donít Paint Right Away


Although it seems much more practical to paint an empty house, once you live in your new home for awhile, youíll get a sense of where the light hits and what colors will complement your furniture. When you pick colors in a rush, you run the risk of choosing shades that you may not love in the long term. Focus on properly lighting your rooms before you even start to paint.


Donít Forget The Housewarming Party!


If you plan a housewarming party for a date thatís not too far after you move in, it will give you motivation to get things done in the house. The housewarming party is your accountability partner to get you to unpack those boxes and get decorating. Try to plan the party somewhere between one and two months after your planned move-in date. This will give you time to get things done, just not too much time!  


Meet The Neighbors


You should take some time very soon after you move in to meet your new neighbors. They can be a great resource for you as to what happens in your new neighborhood. Find out if any of your new neighbors have dogs that your own dog could meet for a friendly walk. Your new friends will even give you information about a neighborhood watch or important community activities as well.


Safety First


Youíll want to check all of your smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and alarm systems. Be sure that they work. Then, change the batteries in each system to start fresh. You should also equip your house with a fire extinguisher or two. You can never be too prepared for an emergency. 


Next, you should check all of the door and window locks. Replace anything that used a key. You never know who had keys to the home before it was sold.

When you start small in a new home, things will begin to come together slowly but surely just like puzzle pieces.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 11/6/2018

A home inspection is a vital part of every real estate transaction. Its importance is usually solidified in a purchase contract in the form of a contingency clause.

Whenever you buy or sell a home, the transaction is typically contingent upon a few things being fulfilled. Inspections help protect the buyer from purchasing a home that they believed didnít have any major issues.

For buyers, an inspection can save you thousands in the long run. For sellers, getting a preemptive inspection done (on your own dime) can be useful since it will help you avoid any surprises that could arise when a potential buyer has your home inspected.

Hiring a home inspector

Regardless of whether youíre the buyer or the seller in this instance, hiring a home inspector isnít something you should take lightly. Youíll want to confer with your agent before you pick an inspector.

Itís also a good idea to check out some online reviews and visit the inspectorís website for pricing. Typically, inspectors charge between $200 and $400 for an inspection, so feel free to shop around.

Inspectors are certified, so make sure whoever you choose has the proper licensure. You can search for inspectors in your area with this search function.

Ultimately, youíll want to choose an inspector that can give you the most unbiased assessment of the home, so that you can be assured that you know what youíre getting into when you buy or sell a home.

Preparing for an inspection

Many buyers arenít sure what to expect on inspection day. However, the process is relatively simple.

Youíll want to make sure the inspector can easily access workspaces (like around the furnace, circuit breakers, etc.). This will make the inspectorís job easier and allow them to focus on the service theyíre providing you.

If possible, itís also a good idea to provide them with records of important home maintenance and repairs. Inspectors know what red flags to look for with the home, both physically and on paper.

Finally, make sure pets, kids, and any other distractions are away from home or with someone who can attend to them.

Post inspection

After the inspection is complete, the inspector will hand you a report and be able to answer any questions you have about their findings. They will give recommendations about the timeline for repairs that need to be made soon or even years into the future.

With this report in hand, you can determine if there are repairs you want to negotiate with the seller if youíre buying a home. As a seller, this report will tip you off to issues that potential buyers will likely have and give you a chance to address them in advance.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 10/23/2018

The rent vs buy dilemma is something that Americans have been facing for decades. Both options have their benefits, and itís really a matter of timing and preferences when it comes to choosing which is best for you.

However, there are a lot of things to consider before making this decision. So, in todayís post weíre going to break down some of the benefits of renting an apartment and of buying a home. That way you can make your decision with a clearer picture of what each situation looks like.

One thing to note first, however, is that it isnít always as simple as buy vs rent. Some living situations draw on the pros of each type of living. For example, living in a condo might be a good option for people who want the privacy and independence of owning their own home, but who also donít have the time or desire to keep up with maintenance.

So, as we compare buying and renting, keep in mind that the features of each are not mutually exclusive.

Renting an apartment

Most people who are living on their own for the first time start off renting. For younger people just out of school, renting offers the first taste of independence without the prerequisites of homeownership.

When you rent your first apartment, youíll learn the skills associated with budgeting for your monthly expenses, making your rent payments on time, and will start learning some of the skills that it takes to run a household.

In terms of monthly costs, apartments can vary greatly. Depending on where you live (and how luxurious the apartment is) you could end up having rent and utility payments that are much lower or much higher than mortgage payments for a house.

However, apartment leases often come with the benefit of utilities, trash removal, and other expenses built in. They also typically require the landlord to maintain the apartment and the land it sits on.

Live in the northern part of the country and hate shoveling snow? Make sure your lease specifies that your landlord will provide snow removal.

One technique that many renters take is to find an apartment that is small and affordable while they save up for a home. In this case, itís worth living with fewer amenities if your end goal is saving for a down payment.

But, what if you want to own a home someday but havenít quite decided where you want to settle down? Maybe your work keeps you moving from place to place or youíve always wanted to move away to somewhere new.

Renting is typically a better option for those who arenít quite sure what their plans are for the next coming years. They can have a stable place to live while they figure things out and plan their next move.

Buying a home

Once youíve rented a home for a while, you might become increasingly aware that you want more space and more control over your home.

Youíre also likely noticing how much money you spend on rent each month that is essentially a net loss.

When you buy a home, your mortgage payments might be going to the bank, but someday the money youíve paid toward that home will be yours in the form of equity. You can then use this as a down payment for another home.

This financial benefit cannot be understated. Since house values dependably increase over time, owning a home is a great investment toward your future.

So, those are the main pros and cons of renting vs buying a home. Think about your circumstances and determine which one makes the most sense for you right now. Then, start planning for the future.




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Posted by Maureen Harmonay on 8/28/2018

A home inspection represents a key stage during the homebuying journey. This inspection enables you to examine a house with a professional property inspector. And if you discover minor or major property issues, you can ask a seller to perform repairs. Or, you may choose to reduce your initial home offer or rescind your proposal.

Ultimately, it pays to be diligent during a home inspection. If you perform an in-depth assessment of a house, you can understand whether this residence is the right choice.

On the other hand, there may be property problems that you identify during a home inspection that you won't ask a seller to repair. These issues may include:

1. Cosmetic Problems

If you ask a home seller to perform cosmetic repairs, the seller may choose to walk away from your homebuying proposal. And if this happens, you could lose your dream house to a rival homebuyer.

There is no need to jeopardize a home sale due to a cracked floor tile, a deck that needs to be stained or other cosmetic problems. Instead, plan to perform cosmetic repairs on your own.

In addition, keep in mind that many cosmetic issues are quick and easy to fix and won't require you to break your budget. This means you likely will have no trouble completing myriad cosmetic repairs after you close on a home.

2. Loose Fixtures

A loose doorknob or light fixture can be frustrating. And as you walk through a house during an inspection, you may feel like repairing a loose fixture is a top priority.

Loose fixtures generally require simple hand tools to repair, and problems with these fixtures frequently can be solved in just minutes. As such, you may want to focus your attention on bigger and potentially more expensive home repairs as you determine which property repair requests to submit to a seller.

Of course, if a loose fixture creates a safety hazard, you should not hesitate to ask the seller to fix this problem. Because if a hazardous fixture remains in place, it may put your health and safety at risk.

3.Non-Functional Light Switch

A non-functional light switch may raise red flags as you inspect a house. But in many instances, this problem is minor.

If you notice a non-functional light switch during a home inspection, there usually is no need to worry. In fact, a property inspector typically can tell you whether a home's electrical system is safe to use and up to code.

For homebuyers who are uncertain about how to proceed with a residence following an inspection, it pays to consult with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can offer expert tips to help you make informed decisions at each stage of the homebuying journey.

Consider your potential property repair requests following a home inspection. By doing so, you can prioritize major property repairs and increase the likelihood that you and the seller can find common ground as you work toward finalizing a purchase agreement.




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