Helpful Hints for Buyers

The purchase of real estate is one of the biggest investments you will ever make. Become an informed and educated buyer is more important than ever. We have seen over the last 10 years just how drastic the real estate market can fluctuate. There is no doubt that information is at your fingertips through the Internet – but having a real estate professional working on your behalf will help take the confusion out of the process. Your REALTOR® will be able to guide you through what can sometimes seem a very complicated transaction.

As agents, we often see our customers and clients fall in love with a house before they objectively evaluate the real estate market data and/or what their financial situation is and what their long term goals may be. It is imperative that you take time to identify your long term goals, what are your needs and wants (are they the same), and do you have the financial resources to meet both your goals and needs. Buying and selling a home is a difficult process. With the guidance and team work of your real estate professional, building inspector, lending specialist you will reach your goals of home ownership.

1: Begin by identifying your specific needs

2: What is most important to you? The town, neighborhood, school, proximity to healthcare, and/or ability to pursue your leisure activities.

3: How much space do you need? Consider not only the number of bedrooms and interior amenities, but also your space needs outside – Do you have pets that require space? Do you have a classic car to store? Do you love to garden?

4: Before you start to look at property, sit down and talk with a mortgage specialist. With the assistance of your mortgage specialist you can determine just what price range you can afford and then you can begin the search.

5: Understanding your needs and financial objectives, your agent can go to work for you to help you identify potential homes to show you.

6: Inspect each home with a critical eye making sure you look from “top to bottom”, ‘inside and out.” Look beyond the bright pink paint in the bedroom – is the layout and space what you are looking for – paint is a cosmetic change.

7: Once you find “the one” it will be time to work with your REALTOR® to determine the market value of the home you select and what the appropriate amount to offer the seller is. By using market data, your agent’s knowledge of this area, and your opinion - an offer can be made. Your REALTOR® will write up a Purchase & Sale agreement for you. You will be required to make an earnest money deposit.

8: Once both buyer and seller have agreed on the terms and signed the purchase and sale contract, your earnest money check will be deposited into a non-interest bearing escrow account.

9: Your REALTOR® will then guide you through the “due diligence” period of the transaction any and all contingencies of the contract must be dealt with in a timely manner according to the terms of the contract. You will most likely have a licensed building inspection. If you will be obtaining financing, you will need to meet with your lender and make formal loan application. Your lender will guide you through this portion of the transaction.

10: Once all the contingencies in the contract have been met and the mortgage lender has made the final mortgage commitment, a time and date will be set to pass papers and transfer the property from the current owner to you. Your agent will be with you every step of the way to guide you through this process to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 2:09 PM

Buying a foreclosure or REO property in Ocala

What is an REO?

REO's or Real Estate Owned are houses that have completed the foreclosure process which the bank or mortage company now holds. This is different than real estate up for foreclosure auction. If you buy a property during a foreclosure sale, you must pay at least the loan balance plus any interest and other fees accumulated during the foreclosure process. You must also be ready to pay with cash in hand. To top everything off, you'll get the property completely as is. That possibly will include current liens and even current tenants that need to be evicted.

A REO, conversely, is a much neater and attractive transaction. The REO property didn't find a buyer during foreclosure auction. Now the bank owns it. The bank will see to the elimination of tax liens, evict occupants if needed and generally prepare for the issuance of a title insurance policy to the buyer at closing. Take notice that REOs may be exempt from normal disclosure requirements. For example, in California, banks do not have to give a Transfer Disclosure Statement, a document that normally requires sellers to make known any defects of which they are knowledgeable.

Is an REO in Ocala a bargain?

It is occasionally presume that any REO must be a good deal and an chance for easy money. This just isn't true. You have to be cautious about buying a REO if your intent is make money. While it's true that the bank is often anxious to sell it promptly, they are also strongly motivated to get as much as they can for it. When contemplating the value of a REO, you need to look closely at comparable sales in the neighborhood and be sure to take into account the time and cost of any repairs or remodeling needed to prepare the house for resale. The bargains with money making potential exist, and many people do very well buying and selling foreclosures. Still there are also many REO's that are not good buys and may not be money makers.

Prepared to make an offer?

Most mortgage companies have a REO department that you'll work with while buying a REO property from them. Normally the REO department will use a listing agent to get their REO properties listed on the local MLS. Before making your offer, you'll want to contact either the listing agent or REO department at the bank and discover as much as you can about what they know about the condition of the property and what their process is for taking offers. Since banks almost always sell REO properties "as is", it's often prudent to include an inspection contingency in your offer that gives you time to check for hidden damage and withdraw the offer if you find it.

As with making any offer on real estate, providing documentation of your ability to pay may make your offer more attractive, such as a pre-approval letter from a lender. After you've presented your offer, you can expect the bank to make a counter offer. At this point it will be up to you to decide whether to accept their counter, or make another counter offer. Understand, you'll be dealing with a process that usually involves a group of people at the bank, and they don't work evenings or weekends. It's quite common for the process of offers and counter offers to take days or even weeks. 

Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:30 PM

Do you want to finance your new home?


Applying for the loan is one of the most troublesome parts of buying a house, but it doesn't have to be. I'm very familiar with a lot of mortgage lenders in Ocala, and they've helped me recognize some things that will make the process of applying for a loan pretty simple.

1 – Organize a list of questions about your loan program

If you do not perfectly realize the pros and cons of the different loan programs, be sure you bring a list of questions. I or one of my trusted lenders will be able to assist you in understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each program, because it can be hard to understand the distinctions between fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

2 – Determine when to lock

When you lock in an interest rate, it means that the mortgage lender commits to the interest rates for the loan – commonly at the time the loan application is presented. By floating the rate, you can lock the rate anytime between the day you apply for your loan and at the time of closing. Those who opt to float think the interest rates will dip in the near future. Click here to see the outlook for the next 90 days of interest rates.

3 – Determine if you want to pay additional points to lower your rate

Generally you can choose to pay additional points to lower the interest rate of your loan. Each point is 1 percent of the loan and is payable in cash at the time of closing. To determine if purchasing points is the best option for you, click here to use our points calculator.

4 – Compile your paperwork

Acquiring a mortgage loan requires lots of paperwork, so you should spend some time getting all your documents together. Click here for a list of normal loan documentation.

Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:29 PM

Let ERA Big Sun Realty assist you with buying a home in Ocala

Purchasing a home intimidates a lot of people. However, with some up-front planning, it isn't all that complicated. So they'll know exactly what they can expect, I like to furnish buyers with an outline of the whole deal. Here are my nine steps to buying a home. When you're ready to get started, just contact me here or e-mail me at . I'm happy to address any questions you have about this information.

Step 1 – Get ready to buy a home
Before you begin your home search, there are plenty of things you'll want to contemplate. It's likely that you'll want to make a checklist of features you need to have, get a feeling for what school districts you want to live in, and begin working on your budget. Ensuring your mortgage payment is less than 30 percent of your monthly income is a good principle to go by.

Step 2 – Get in touch with a real estate agent in Ocala 
That's where I come in. I'd be more than happy to arrange a time to get together with you and communicate with you about your real estate needs and get an idea of your plans for the future. We'll discuss the mortgage and housing industries, other economic factors that may potentially affect your purchase today or in the future, as well as neighborhoods and school districts in the Ocala area.

In addition, I'll assist you in getting started on your loan. ERA Big Sun Realty partners with some of the finest mortgage professionals in Ocala, so you'll be in great hands. They'll assist you in deciding which type of loan is best for you and help you get qualified.

Step 3 – Begin your search
Following our initial meeting, I'll begin finding available houses on the market that are a great fit for you. I'll get a sneak peek of most of the homes and exclude the duds, and then we'll set up appointments to tour the homes at a time that's convenient for you.

When we view houses, I'll identify good features, as well as negative ones. I'll even ask you what things you like and don't like. Frequently, buyers amend their must-have list as we view homes and some items become more substantial than others. If that's the case, I'll look through all the listings another time and narrow it down to the house you've been dreaming about.

Step 4 – Comprehend the market
Your agent's understanding of the Ocala market is a leading element in your home search. And I assure you I'm familiar with all the neighborhoods and schools, and I can communicate some areas are "hot" and call for immediate action and others that are "cold" and allow for thoughtful analysis.

When we view homes, I'll make sure to communicate if the list price has room for bargaining or if I believe the house is "priced to sell." Every REALTOR in Ocala will convince you they comprehend the home market, but keep an eye out, and be sure to ask plenty of questions. If it seems like they don't know everything, contact me at 352-237-4343 or e-mail me at , and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have. My market knowledge will help you stay a step above the rest through the entire process.

Step 5 – Find the home you've been looking for
I'm positive we'll find your dream house in the Ocala area. When we do, I'll meticulously develop your home purchase offer. The offer will be made to fit your needs and the home. We'll include some contingencies, such as acquiring financing, finishing the home inspection, and a clean title.

Upon submitting your purchase offer, you'll likely need to present "earnest money." This is a cash deposit submitted to a seller to secure an offer to buy the property. The amount is often put towards the cost of closing. If the seller accepts the offer, we should close on the home about 30 to 60 days after. This allows plenty of time for your mortgage financing.

Step 6 – Negotiate the deal
A lot of contracts don't close on the initial offer. It's widely common to receive a counter offer. Don't let it alarm you. We'll consider whether or not to consent to the counter offer, propose our own counter offer, or reject the seller's offer and go on.

The state of the market will play a role in how aggressively we negotiate the contract. We'll also work within your financing budget. And when it's all said and done, we'll put together a contract that's best for you. 

Step 7 – Obtain financing
Once the contract is finalized, you'll begin working with your mortgage lender to close the loan. If you're pre-qualified, it won't be a long process at all. But you should to keep in close contact with your mortgage lender. And I'll look after all the property information your lender needs to close the loan.

Step 8 – Close the deal
Your mortgage lender will supply you with a Loan Estimate (LE) outlining closing costs within three days of getting your application. You'll get a Loan Estimate (LE) of your closing costs from your mortgage lender within three days of accepting your application. This estimate is based on the loan amount. RESPA requirements mandate that it has to contain all closing costs and fall within a tight range of accuracy, and I'll study the estimate and let you know if it all looks okay.

Then it's time to close on your house. This will probably happen at a title company or escrow office and will probably be a smooth and pleasant event.

Step 9 – Move in
Congratulations! Now you can move into your new home. Enjoy it. And if you need anything, simply contact me at 352-237-4343 or e-mail me at .

Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:27 PM

8 Tips for Your Home Search

  1. Research before you look. Decide what features you most want to have in a home, what neighborhoods you prefer, and how much you’d be willing to spend each month for housing.
  2. Be realistic. It’s OK to be picky, but don’t be unrealistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Use your list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
  3. Get your finances in order. Review your credit report and be sure you have enough money to cover your down payment and closing costs. Then, talk to a lender and get prequalified for a mortgage. This will save you the heartache later of falling in love with a house you can’t afford.<
  4. Don’t ask too many people for opinions. It will drive you crazy. Select one or two people to turn to if you feel you need a second opinion, but be ready to make the final decision on your own.
  5. Decide your moving timeline. When is your lease up? Are you allowed to sublet? How tight is the rental market in your area? All of these factors will help you determine when you should move.
  6. Think long term. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in this home for a longer period? This decision may dictate what type of home you’ll buy as well as the type of mortgage terms that will best suit you.
  7. Insist on a home inspection. If possible, get a warranty from the seller to cover defects for one year.
  8. Get help from a REALTOR®. Hire a real estate professional in your area
Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:25 PM

7 Reasons to Own A Home

  1. Tax benefits. The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.
  2. Appreciation. Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.  The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.
  3. Equity. Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
  4. Savings. Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.
  5. Predictability. Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.
  6. Freedom. The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.
  7. Stability. Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity. 
Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:23 PM
5 Things to Consider About a Neighborhood Before Buying

Buying a home is a long-term, important investment, so take the time to discover what makes your targeted neighborhoods tick. There are a number of ways to check the pulse of a community; talking to neighbors can give you a great snapshot of what it’s like to live there. Here are five other ways to determine whether a neighborhood is the right fit for you.

1. Is it an up-and-coming area or still in transition? You might start by researching local home values and foreclosure rates. Consider such factors as crime rate, development plans and proposed or new businesses.
You can even contact local officials, such as the county property appraiser or the HOA manager (if applicable) for better insights. Sometimes buying a home in a transitional area may prove to be a good investment, but you probably want to make sure you'll feel good about your home in the interim, too.

2. Do the schools make the grade? Even if you don’t have school-age children, you should be interested in how the schools in your potential neighborhood perform. Homes near high-ranking schools tend to maintain higher resale values. Start your research by visiting  or using the SchoolFinder tool at

3. What’s nearby? Consider what’s important to you in your future neighborhood, and then explore the surrounding areas near your targeted home. Among things to keep in mind are proximity to stores, schools and green spaces. Aside from being practical, these amenities make it easy to mingle with neighbors, set up kids’ play dates or just play fetch with your pup. is a great place to search for nearby amenities – all you have to do is plug in an address and mode of transportation.

4. How far is it from work?  How long it will take you to drive to work, school or area stores from your new home. You can also time a potential commute by doing a test drive during the time of day you’re most likely to go to and from work. Explore mass transit options. In addition to offering an alternative to driving, good public transportation near your home can have a positive effect on your property value.

5. How safe is it? A neighborhood watch, well-lit streets, walkways, security systems and little to no signs of vandalism are signs of a safe neighborhood. You can see a picture of the types of crimes that occur in the neighborhood by researching on or and the local police department’s website (see Ocala Info on home page on our company website for local information links)

Posted in:Real Estate-Buyers and tagged: Buyers
Posted by ERA Big Sun Realty on August 21st, 2017 1:21 PM

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7454 SW SR 200
Ocala, Florida 34476