Home Ownership

Home ownership is likely one of the largest purchases of your lifetime. Finding, financing, purchasing, maintaining, refinancing, and selling a home is a complicated financial process. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How much are closing costs?

    Typically, closing costs range between 2% and 5% of a home’s purchase price. That means closing costs for a $200,000 house could be anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000. These fees vary depending on your state, loan type, and mortgage lender, so it’s important to keep an eye on the costs. If you see any fees that were not on the original loan estimate or notice that your closing costs are significantly higher, immediately seek clarification with your lender and/or real estate agent.

  • Why is San Francisco's housing market so expensive?

    To put it bluntly, housing in San Francisco is scarce, which creates an expensive housing market. There simply is a limited supply of available units. As well as the lack of supply is a dearth of development opportunities. Its location on a peninsula also means new housing is difficult to build. Short supply and high demand means that landlords and home sellers can command higher prices. Finally, a thriving tech industry attracts new people to the area, further tightening the supply and driving up demand. 

  • Which natural disasters are most likely to impact homeowners?

    Coastal areas like Miami, New Orleans, and Houston are the likeliest to get hit by hurricanes, storm surge, and flooding, while areas with a significant rise of seismic activity—the West Coast and Hawaii—are the likeliest to experience earthquakes and tsunamis, according to NOAA. When hit by a natural disaster, homeowners are quickly faced with a difficult situation and hard decisions. Often they have lost possessions, a community, and their profession. In the worst cases they may have lost loved ones. During this harsh time, they will possibly have to fight with the insurer of their property for coverage. 

  • How does curb appeal affect sale price?

    Several relatively inexpensive things—a new paint job, sprucing up landscaping, or replacing small things such as outdated light fixtures or numbers on a mailbox—can boost a property’s curb appeal. Although these features aren’t quantified as easily as square footage, curb appeal is key in determining a property’s value. A house with ideal curb appeal may be valued higher than one with the same size, bedroom range, and location simply because it will appeal more readily to a prospective buyer.

  • What are some snags that can crop up in an appraisal?

    Whether you are buying or selling a home, you have a vested interest in the appraisal process. For conventional loans, lenders expect the appraiser to check a range of the home’s conditions: appliances and mechanical systems, quality of roofing and foundation, landscaping, plumbing, basement, and swimming pool, among others. Occasionally, during the appraisal the “subject to” flag might come up. This points out issues or problems to be inspected before the loan can be approved. The reason these items are sometimes flagged is because the appraiser isn’t an expert in that area and wants a more definitive opinion.

  • Is a home insurance broker necessary?

    As an intermediary between an insurance shopper and various insurance companies, a home insurance broker can be useful if you have an unusual or hard-to-insure property or if you don't have time to shop on your own. You might want to use an insurance broker if you’re looking for the best possible price on a policy or if there is something unusual about the property you want to insure. For instance, some insurance companies won't write policies for certain homes or areas, such as those that could be impacted by tornadoes or hurricanes.

Key Terms
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