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Ready to Buy Your Dream Home?

There’s renewed energy in the housing market — both in existing home sales and new home construction. If you’ve been waiting to act, now might be the time to make your move. You’ll need a team: a real estate attorney, a lender, a real estate agent, an insurance provider. It can be a lot…but this will help!

Three Things to Know When Buying a Home

Buying a home is the biggest investment most people make, so it pays to know the basics. Heidi Billington, a real estate closing attorney and a partner in the law firm of Rubin Lublin, nets out the crucial areas for you:

  1. Homestead Exemption: This reduces the taxable value of your primary residence and decreases the amount of property tax you are required to pay, but it is NOT filed automatically. You must own and occupy the property by the first day of January of the year you submit the application. The deadline varies by county, but April 1 is the filing deadline for a homestead exemption in Gwinnett. This exemption can save you thousands of dollars each year.
  1. Title Insurance: This type of insurance protects the policyholder on defects in the chain of title such as another person claiming ownership of the property, improperly recorded documents, liens, encroachments, and more. Lender’s Title Insurance only protects the lender. To protect your investment, you need Owner’s Title Insurance.
  1. Ways to Hold Title: There are two primary ways to hold title in Georgia with the automatic default being “Tenants in Common” unless otherwise specified in the warranty deed at closing. The way you hold title is especially important when one of the property holders dies. Married couples may prefer to hold title as “Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship.” With a JTWS title, the property passes directly to the surviving spouse when the other dies — avoiding the hassle of probate.

These are just a few of the important details you need to consider prior to buying a home. Visit or call 770-246-3300 to schedule a consultation with Heidi Billington.


How to Pick a Mortgage Lender

If you’re buying a house, you’re probably going to need a mortgage…and a mortgage lender. Choosing the right one for your financial circumstances can seem overwhelming but these tips can simplify the process:

  1. Get your credit score in shape. The better your credit score, the more favorable the terms of your mortgage will be, so:
  • Make sure your credit reports are accurate and free of errors.
  • Pay off high-interest debts and lower your overall level of debt.
  • Control the amount of available credit you use –keep it below 30%.
  1. Know the types of lenders. Credit unions, national banks, community banks and mortgage companies all make home loans. Check out each lender you consider on the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry.
  1. Compare rates from several mortgage lenders. Get multiple quotes from different lenders! Once you have several quotes in hand, compare all the costs and decide which one makes the most financial sense for you.
  1. Ask the right questions.
  • What lender fees will I be responsible for at closing (commission, loan origination, points, appraisal, credit report, application fees)?
  • Will you waive any of these fees or roll them into my mortgage?
  • What are the down payment requirements?
  • How long are your turnaround times on preapproval, appraisal and closing?
  1. Read the fine print.

Don’t forget to examine the fine print of your loan documents, particularly the initial Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.



Why Do I Need a Realtor?

They have loads of expertise.

Real estate has its own language and a Realtor is trained to speak it. Plus, buying or selling a home requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. Realtors have the expertise to prepare a killer deal—while avoiding delays or costly mistakes that can seriously mess you up.

They have turbocharged searching power.

Realtors have access to more online listings than you do. Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised, and a Realtor can help you find those hidden gems. A good local Realtor is going to know the search area way better than you ever could.

They have negotiating chops.

You’re going to need an experienced pro to seal the deal and protect your interests. And it’s not just about how much money you end up spending or netting. A Realtor will help draw up a purchase agreement that allows enough time for inspections, contingencies, and anything else that’s crucial to your particular needs.

They adhere to a strict code of ethics.

A Realtor is a licensed real estate salesperson who belongs to the National Association of Realtors®, the largest trade group in the country. Realtors must adhere to a Code of Ethics.