Notes from a Lawrence, Kansas Realtor
Mortgage Loans in Lawrence Kansas

Every time I talk with a new buyer we always talk about loan options. There aren’t as many loan options as there once were, but there are still several options. The majority of my clients are opting for a FHA loan. I want to touch on home loans and the differences between them. The first thing to know about is something called mortgage insurance. This is an insurance that lenders require to be added onto the loan in order to insure the lender in case of mortgage default on the loan. The lender requires this mortgage insurance, also sometimes referred to as PMI or MIP, on every loan that does not have at least a 20% down payment. On a home loan of $100,000 the mortgage insurance can range from $50-$100 per month, depending on what type of loan you have and your credit score.

The most popular loan for my clients is FHA. The FHA loan only requires 3.5% down and that is why most of my clients like this loan. There is a fee tacked onto the loan amount in order to make the mortgage insurance lower each month than a conventional loan. FHA loans are a little picky about the condition of the house they’ll loan on. If the house is in bad shape, has chipping paint, ripped up carpet, has a roof at the end of its life span, or other obvious defects, then the house probably won’t pass an FHA appraisal. One nice thing about FHA loans is that a buyer can have a parent as a co-signer or help with down payment and still get a great interest rate. FHA is also easy to qualify for because their credit score requirements aren’t as high/strict as conventional loans. For houses that need rehab, there is an FHA loan called a 203K loan. It has more steps and is a bigger process, but it also allows a buyer to purchase and rehab a house that needs work, for only 3.5% down.

Another common mortgage loan is a conventional loan. This is the best type of loan to use if you have 15-20% down payment. The minimum down payment for this type of loan is 5%. Mortgage insurance for this loan is higher each month than with FHA and the loan is a little more difficult to qualify for than FHA. Remember, if you have 20% down payment there is no mortgage insurance for a conventional loan. This type of loan allows some flaws with the house in question. Chipping paint is usually just fine as well as multiple other defects.

VA is another loan that only military veterans can qualify for. This is a great loan because it requires $0 down and no mortgage insurance fee. If a person is a veteran, this is the way to go.

There is also a loan called Rural Development. Rural Development is terrific because it requires $0 down and also has low to no mortgage insurance. Such a great deal, but only works in a town of less than 20,000. There are also limited amounts of money to support this loan, so sometimes it is available and sometimes it isn’t.

Lastly, there is a program called Homepath. Homepath mortgages can only be done on a Homepath approved property. These will always be foreclosures. Homepath requires 3% down payment, no mortgage insurance, but the rates tend to be a little bit higher than any of the other loan types. Homepath can be great for properties that aren’t in the best of condition because they do not require an appraisal. 

If you are interested in finding more information about mortgage interest rates or learning more about monthly payments, please find this information at http://www.searchlawrence.com/Lawrence_Kansas_Home_Buyers_Resources.php

Increase Your Business Productivity With Electronic Signatures

In the spring time, the Lawrence, KS Real Estate market can really get hectic. Our busy sales time is during the spring and summer each year. We Realtors make our profits during this time and carefully stow these funds away in order to make them stretch through the slow Real Estate season during fall and winter. Ultimately this means we work all day and night, 7 days a week during the busy season, because we know we have to make the money while the business is available.

There are a few reasons why our market is so cyclical, but the main reason is the effect of our local university, The University of Kansas, otherwise known as KU. Because of all the influx of students, the leases in Lawrence tend to start August 1st and end July 31st, therefore influencing first time buyers to get out of their rental and purchase during the months of March-July. Of course factors like tax returns, school schedules and weather also play a large role in the high demand for Real Estate in spring and summer.

It can be challenging to learn how to balance all of the roles of a Realtor when all of the clientele are shopping for houses at the same time. There is certainly an art to keeping on task and keeping to a schedule. This last year I discovered a tool that really allowed me to grow my business and handle more transactions with ease. It is an online signature verification program called DocuSign. This program allows us, as Realtors, to upload our important contracts and paperwork to the DocuSign website and then drag and drop where we need to have our clients sign, initial and/or date. Once the client receives this email, they just have a simple click in order to sign their name. It is much easier for those of us in the business of selling houses, but it is also much easier for our clients that are buying or selling houses too. Clients no longer have to leave their homes to meet for one quick signature, they can just do it online.

I’m so thankful for this tool and would recommend it to anyone who works with contracts or legal documents on a regular basis. It makes the entire process and transaction smoother and easier for everyone involved. My clients are often impressed and they love DocuSign just as much as I do. 

Shopping for a Lawrence House in The Snow

Snow Day House for Sale Lawrence
We’ve had quite a bit of snow this week, for Lawrence, KS, that is. I’ve lived in Kansas for about 15 years now and I’ve never seen as much snow as last year or this year. Must be climate change or SOMETHING. You would think that people would not want to shop for houses when the weather is frightful, but reality is quite the contrary. It seems to me that people spend more time in front of the computer looking at houses when the weather is dreary. Online house shopping usually leads to real shopping, in person and with a Realtor (this is where I come in). Since the winter is a typically a very slow season for Real Estate, I take every opportunity to get out and show houses any time someone asks.

Looking at houses in the snow can be quite the challenge. Many people haven’t shoveled their driveways, many of the smaller roads haven’t been cleared and it can end up being a real mess. Thankfully I have four wheel drive and I can get around decently, but that doesn’t help me when I get out of the vehicle and make my way to the house for sale. This week I had many a time with snow up to my knees, which I can tell you was not in any way pleasant. Regardless, I grin and bear it because I am happy to be doing business with clients that want to view houses in person. All in all, this has turned out to be a very productive, albeit cold, Real Estate week. So, as much as I despise the cold, bring on the snow and keep the Real Estate shoppers coming!

Running a Business From a Home in Lawrence

House For Sale in Lawrence, KSI’ve been in Real Estate for 10 years now and I still learn something new every day. I recently had a client inquire about commercial property. They want something they can both live in as a residence, as well as use commercially to conduct their law business. I called the Lawrence, KS Planning Department to inquire about the option of running a business out of a residential home. What I learned was home businesses are allowed, with some limitation. A home business in Douglas County and in the City of Lawrence cannot have more than one employee and not more than 10 customer visits per day. My client asked if they could hang a sign advertising their business location. I was told by Dan at the planning department that a 2 foot square sign is allowed and must be placed within 10 feet of the building entrance on a door, wall or window of the building. Because my client was initially looking only for commercial real estate previously, this opened up so many other real estate possibilities and I think we’ll easily find something suited to their needs. A permit is required in order to conduct this business, and can be applied for with the City of Lawrence. The phone number to call for this application is 785-832-5150.