How To Use Google Alerts In Your Real Estate Search

The first thing you need is an account with google. If you don’t one, click here to create one. I don’t know a single person without a google account, and in the event someone needs that link, I will be shocked.

Log in to Google Alerts to get started. Google Alerts are email updates of the latest Google results based on the queries you identify.

Most first-time buyers search for months, if not years. I recently closed a real estate transaction for a couple that had been searching for nearly four years. I wanted to hand them a B.S. degree in residential real estate, but I’m not an accredited institution of higher learning.

The platform is extremely simple and intuitive. I know how wonderful the accessibility of the MLS pictures and data has been for real estate sales professionals and clients, but after months of daily digest emails from the same realtor, the content may finds its way to the trash bin and not make it to your eyeballs.

You can control what, how often, and how many results are e-mailed to you when you set them up. Here are some ways you can use Google Alerts immediately:

  1. If you like a property, flag the address in the search query. You will receive the updates when there are open houses, price drops, news articles, etc.
  2. If you have a broad search (metro-Boston) and want to learn more about a town, enter the town, and keep up on what is newsworthy.
  3. If you have a soft spot for a particular street or condominium complex, save the name! Maybe another house or condo will come up for sale.
  4. Google alerts will catch chatter and the MLS will not. If someone comments on an newspaper article, or posts something on a public twitter profile, facebook page, LinkedIn account, or Google+ page, you will know about it!
  5. If you have been working with multiple real estate agents, enter the names of the agents and brokerage companies they work for. Its a great way to compare skill sets.
  6. If you have been pre-qualified with 2-3 loan officers, enter the banks information and the loan officers name so you can keep up with interest rates, offers and promotions, news, etc.

Its not 1985. Take advantage of all of the tools available to you as a prospective home-buyer.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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Pre-Paying Homeowners Insurance

First-time homebuyers are often confused about homeowners insurance and the initial expense involved.

Mortgage lenders require that the first years premium is paid in full. If you chose to escrow the annual insurance premium, expect to pre-pay an additional 2-3 months up-front to fund your escrow account.

Some of this extra money is referred to as a “cushion”. The concept also applies to property taxes. This money covers unanticpated expenses such as an increased policy premium or higher property taxes. So when you close on your house in mid-October with the first payment to the bank due December 1st, there will be enough money available next fall to pay the annual premium when it comes due.

Be on the lookout at your closing for an initial escrow disclosure statement. This will account for all monies in the escrow account.

P.S. “Homeowners Insurance” is also known as “Hazard Insurance”. This name trickery often confuses people…It’s not a different insurance. The two are one in the same.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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Why Buy Real Estate Now? Interesting Question

I’ve discussed mortgages with many prospective first-time homebuyers. Many don’t quite understand mortgage interest. They can’t comprehend why low interest rates are so great for them. There is nothing like a specific example to drive the point home…so here we go!

If you were in the market for a $400,000 home in the fall of 2008, interest rates for mortgage loans were offered at approximately 6.0%. If you had an $80,000 down payment and were looking to finance 80% of the purchase price ($320,000), your monthly debt obligation for a 30 year fixed rate loan was $1918.56.

Today, with interest rates at approximately 3.25% for purchase loans, the same prospective home buyer from the example above would only pay $1,392.66 per month for a 30 year fixed rate loan.

That is an interest savings of $525.90 per month and $189,324 over 30 years. Wow!

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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#Howto Build A Real Estate Team

In any business, its important to have a great team. Buying real estate is no exception. You need to make sure from the outset that you are working with competent real estate professionals. Nobody is looking out for you, more than you!

There may be more than a dozen people involved with your deal! There are real estate agents, assistants, appraisers, loan officers, loan processors, underwriters, paralegals, and attorneys (to name a few). So who are the key players? What do you have to know about them? How do you decide who to work with?

1. Network: If you know people in the real estate business, talk to them and ask for referrals. We want to help you! Ask them for the names of 3 or 4 lawyers, agents, or loan officers. Ask everyone who they prefer to work with. Its always better for a transaction when the loan officer, real estate agent, and closing attorney have a history with one another. When you think you are done asking, keep asking! This is the critical point of the team building process.

2. Research: Take the names you have accumulated and “google” them. Check out their websites, online profiles, recommendations, ratings, reviews, sales histories, etc. I’m not recommending you fully investigate each person and park outside his/her house to see what time they get home at night, but take 10 minutes per person to research carefully and take notes.

3. Test: Send some emails or make some phone calls to people that you might want to work with. Real estate is a 24/7 business. Did the person promptly acknowledge your email? Did he/she call you back within a reasonable time? When you spoke with him/her did he/she sound professional and seem to have a handle on things…Ask the tough questions.If the sales person doesn’t respond to leads quickly, just imagine how long you will wait when you are a client and need some help with a complex situation!

4. Trust Your Judgment: At the end of the day, you are going to be the person working with the professional, not your contact who recommended him/her. Don’t let advertisements and ratings websites manipulate your instinct. The best real estate people are worth their weight in gold. The bad ones may leave you homeless…literally!

5. Make a Decision Already!!!!!: You’ve done the hard work. You have networked. You have researched. You have tested these people and now its time to pick a team of professionals to work with. You’ve made it to the finish line. Congratulations! Don’t hold up your deal.

Jack O’Donohue, Real Estate Attorney at Dalton & Finegold, LLP
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