Sunday, September 15, 2013

Being Good Neighbors and Homeowners -Condo and Townhouse Living

We live in a Townhouse Community and as all other Association we not only have rules to follow but rules of our own as well. After past issues with leaks of our own as well as from our neighbors we found out QUICKLY what we need to do to ensure that we prevent further damage to our unit. We also found out QUICKLY that the things we needed to do also made us good neighbors and therefore made for a better community to live in as well.
Preventative Measures to take for Potential Problems:

Condo Insurance is a must (and affordable!) Even though our association has condo insurance that is included in our maintenance fees for the common elements (common land, beams, foundation, stairwells, roofs, parking, elevators, main power and plumbing, ducts and whatever else as determined by the declaration) it does not include the inside of the unit!

As a townhouse/condo owner we have an obligation to repair and fix our problems immediately. A Townhouse/Condo Association requires us to follow steps to insure that during a plumbing/electrical/safety hazard problem we protect ourselves and our neighbors from further damage and safety issues.

We Contact our Resident Manager (Association) and our Association Management Co. if there are any leaks or hazardous issues. Notifying them of any damage to structure or potential hazards/damages that may affect neighbors is a very important “to do”. We want to be responsible homeowners and let everyone know as we do not want to face any repercussions either.

We call the appropriate licensed contractor/plumber/electrician etc. and get the work started on to remedy the problem. We could possibly cause more damage to our unit (as well as neighboring) if we sit on the problem. Being responsible homeowners for potential dangers and hazards to other members of the community means we nip the problem in the bud.

We take preventative measures as responsible homeowners….

WE are the ones who make our community a better place to live.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hawaii Military & the VA Loan

Honolulu County IS of the whole island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. With 50+ Hawaii Military Bases and Installations on our island alone, you can guaranty that the VA Guaranteed Loan is the way to go for the Hawaii Military Veteran purchasing their piece of Hawaii and paradise with a place they can call home.

(picture to left is the model of the USS Arizona Memorial depicting the ship under water and the memorial above at Pearl Harbor Hawaii)
Remember, VA Guarantees a percentage of the loan and you still have to go through a Lender that actually does do VA Loans and it is for your OWN PERSONAL USE. (not all banks, credit unions and loan companies do VA Loans). The Veterans Administration Guaranteed Loan is one of just a couple of loan programs that allow the Veteran to finance the funding fee as well as come in with no down payment. (100% financing)
In my experience, the Hawaii Based Military personnel have purchased homes or condos totalling 1/3 of my total sales with their VA loan benefits. I have learned the process very well and you may as well consider me a Seasoned Real Estate Agent for VA Transations and the Hawaii Military Relocation.
I take pride in my relationships with the Military Stationed in Hawaii and pay particular attention to their needs when they Relocate to Hawaii. Military Transfers & Relocations to Hawaii: A Geographical Shock tells my story and travels as a Military Dependent but also that the Hawaii Military Veteran makes up 10% of our population on Oahu & the Active Duty Military Personnel make up about 3.5 % of our population on Oahu.

The following guidelines will help you in preparing for your Hawaii Relocation (or even if you already live here and are purchasing a home) and learning about the transaction process using your VA Guaranteed Loan:
  1. Your Realtor® needs to know what price range you qualify for in order to search through the MLS system for properties in your criteria that you provide (i.e. #bedrooms, baths, etc). If you do not know a LOCAL lender Your Realtor® can refer you to a couple who are well qualified and know the State Laws In Hawaii. Local lenders also will be walking along side you step by step as well as being face to face at time of signing loan docs.
  2. When the Loan Officer lets both you and Your Realtor® know what price range you are qualified for the Oahu and Surrounding Neighborhood Search: Relocations Hawaii gives you information on how Your Realtor® will set you up with a detailed web page according to your criteria for property listings.
  3. Get your financial documents together (and make sure you don't let the movers pack them!) such as LES's for a whole month prior (you can also get this on MyPay online so not to worry), last two years of W-2's, last two months bank statements, any documents relating to your VA disability (if you are a disabled vet) and whatever the Loan Officer tells you that you will need.
  4. Your VA Certificate of Eligibility will be ordered by the Loan Officer online once you go through the loan application process and it saves you the trip to Tripler Army Medical Center -VA Office- so, not to worry. VA guarantees approximately 25% of your loan to the lender.
  5. Your Credit (FICO) Score and Income make a difference if you are to be qualified for a VA Loan. Remember, just because you have VA Benefits does not mean you don't have to have decent or some credit. There is a criteria that the Lenders follow according to VA guidelines. (i.e. if you have NO credit you cannot obtain a loan. Get a gas card and credit card to establish credit. You DO have to show a history of payments). Your debt to loan ratio is also taken into consideration and part of the criteria.
  6. This Realtor® makes showing appointments according to the criteria you have specified. You will know which home to put an offer in on and it'll be when you walk in a home and you say, "This feels like the right home for me!"
  7. Then the contract is drawn up and this Realtor® explains each contingency throughout the contract while signing. The offer is submitted to the Seller's Agent and when it is accepted by the seller the Transaction and Loan Process begins!
  8. This Realtor® sends the accepted contract to the Loan Officer and Opens Escrow. All documents and you initial deposit check will be submitted to escrow during the transaction and you will make an appointment immediately to submit all documentation and go through the VA application/signing with the loan officer. From there the loan officer orders the appraisal.
  9. This Realtor® will set a time & date coinciding with your schedule to do your home inspection and will also give you a list of professional home inspectors to choose from. The home inspection will show you if there is anything to be repaired or remedied,
  10. The Condominium and/or Subdivision Association Documents should be ordered immediately after acceptance of the offer and in the buyer's hands within 10-14 days after acceptance. This agent will make copies of the Budget, last three Association minutes and the Property Information form (RR105C) and submit it to the lender. They need this for the VA Loan Guidelines and process for your loan. (these documents will show how the Association budgets their money in reserve. % of owner occupants, any pending concerns or litigation going on and so forth.
  11. Provided your loan process goes smoothly you should have a Conditional Loan Commitment Letter within the first three weeks in contract. This is an approval of your loan with Conditions. Maybe you need to submit a couple of more documents or the appraisal is not in yet or the survey and termite inspection are not done yet. These are the types of conditions that will be listed on this letter.
  12. Within two weeks after the Conditional Loan Commitment letter is issued all the conditions should be complete for signing documents with escrow and the loan officer. Not to worry! I attend all signings with you. Approximately two to three days after signing the lender will wire all monies to escrow (funding) and when escrow receives all monies they will take the documents to the Bureau of Conveyances to record. One day later the Bureau gives clearance of recording and in turn escrow notifies all parties, and....
At this time, I call you and say, Congratulations! You now own your home!
How Can I Obtain More Information About VA Home Loans?

Call VA at 1-800-827-1000 or contact a local lender or real estate professional. Pamphlets available from VA include: 26-4 VA Guaranteed Loans for Veterans

Honolulu County Hawaii Military Bases & Installations- Oahu Neighborhoods
LIVE on VIDEO: A Hawaii Military Relocation Story Comes to Life
*Across the Ocean to Paradise: Military Relocations Hawaii*
The Art of Hawaii Relocations
The Cost of Living Factor in Considering A Hawaii Relocation
Oahu and Surrounding Neighborhood Search: Relocations Hawaii
Aiea, Pearl City Neighborhoods- Hawaii Military Relocation

It's not easy moving across the Pacific Ocean and purchasing your Hawaii Home;

let alone to a totally different "world" of people.
But you can do it with a little effort, motivation and a great Realtor®!
If you're Relocating to Hawaii (regardless if it's near future or just wanting to be proactive for the future) contact me to get started with your search for Hawaii Homes for Sale.

Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman, RA, e-PRO / Century 21 Liberty Homes, Mililani, Hawaii

© Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman, All rights reserved.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hawaii VA Home Loan Transaction Specialists....The Scoop

Back in the day, there were Realtors® and Loan Officers that did not want to deal with VA Loans. Why? Because they're strict with their guidelines and criteria. When overpricing and overbidding were running rampant in all cities, VA remained the ever conservative loan for the Veteran of the Armed Forces.
I say Woohoo! Yeah! Great! It is with this criteria that has kept the VA Guaranteed Loan going and the only 100% financing loan in Hawaii that remains a good loan for the military and vet of the US Armed Forces. Remember, the VA Guaranteed Loan means that VA guarantees the lender a portion of your loan; they do not fund the loan.

Now a days you'll have everyone trying to solicit your business with advertising that they are the "VA Expert" or like me I say, "VA Home Loan Transaction Specialist". There are many pertinent parts to a VA Home Loan and Purchasing a Property in Hawaii so be sure your Realtor® and Loan Officer know their stuff!
  • The Realtor® HAS to know the VA Transaction Process. Right now, they are so back logged with appraisal reports and so forth (because it is the one loan that is running rampant here due to our high volume of military presence) so we structure our contracts to accommodate the timeline. This agent keeps on top of all involved in the process.
  • The Realtor® HAS to know which lenders and loan officers KNOW their VA Loans. Chances are the incoming member does not know a good loan officer and it is up to us to refer them to one that KNOWS THEIR VA LOAN. Just because someone has signs all over the place displaying their expertise in the field, does not mean it is so. The seasoned Realtor® has worked alongside experts in the field and will refer you to a couple who know their stuff.
  • The Loan Officer HAS to be punctual and keep on top of the lender to get all parts of the transaction together. Ordering the appraisal quickly so they can get notice of a VA appraiser being assigned to the case is a start. For incoming personnel there are loads of other documents to retrieve as they are just arriving and their Honolulu County BAH will not automatically be in their LES (pay statement).
  • The Escrow Officer has to know the process as well in case other parties need something from the other. We do not communicate with the buyer if representing the seller and do not sign documents all together. It's a conflict of interest and everything should be complete before signing anyway.
  • The VA Buyer has to be realistic in their part of the process. If you are serious about buying your Hawaii Home, then keep an open mind. If the sq/ft is smaller than you'd hoped but you are able to buy at that lower price then it may be something to consider. Waiting for a later time and the interest rates may go up, the prices may start going back up or circumstances may not allow purchasing in ‘hopes' something will pop up. We don't have crystal balls but if you are seriously ready then hop off that fence.
  • The Seller (or bank) has to be realistic in their part of the process as well. Prices are not going up! Sales numbers are down. Overpricing or being stubborn on the price may just lose a serious buyer. Your home may be the same floor plan as the another but your property is definitely not nicer....what do you do? You aggressively price your property to meet the needs of the market and get that home sold! And remember....VA loans are one of the best 100% financing loans out there!
Times have changed in the housing market nationwide. The VA Loan is now the most popular 100% financing loan for incoming military personnel to Hawaii and by far the most secure for lenders. Remember though, you still have to have money for closing costs (escrow & title fees, lender fees, prorated property taxes and so forth) but you may be able to have those covered by a seller credit if they are open to negotiating and getting off the fence too!

Let's all work together as a team to make each VA Loan Transaction go through smoothly for the Military Member and Veteran Relocating to Hawaii!

More Information for the Armed Forces Member or Veteran:
*Across the Ocean to Paradise: Military Relocations Hawaii* Don't be shocked when you arrive...get the scoop on the environment, jobs, house hunting, BAH current rates and more!
A Honolulu Hawaii Relocation: Getting Ready With Your "To Do" List Be proactive in getting ready for the big move. A great simple list with to do's to get started!
The Art of Hawaii Relocations Expect smaller, different and of course paradise.
VA Loans & Hawaii Military Relocations: This Realtors® Process Know the process for your VA benefits and the VA loan process.
Honolulu-Hawaii Pet Quarantine: Prepare For Your Hawaii Move! Hawaii is Rabies Free so our laws are strict with incoming pets.
Oahu and Surrounding Neighborhood Search: Relocations Hawaii A look into how I set you up to receive automatic listings with your own personal webpage to fine tune your criteria for your home purchase
© 2007-2013 Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman's Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog. All rights reserved.