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How to Buy a House

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The process of buying a home can feel intimidating, whether it’s your first real estate purchase or your third. The…

The process of buying a home can feel intimidating, whether it’s your first real estate purchase or your third. The key to making it less scary is to know what’s ahead and surround yourself with knowledgeable professionals who can help guide you.

Here’s a step-by-step checklist for buying a house:

Research.

Gather your financial information.

Find a real estate agent.

Get preapproved for a mortgage.

Start touring homes.

Find the house you want and make an offer.

Negotiate as needed.

Schedule a home inspection.

Submit your loan application.

Tap other necessary professionals.

Get an appraisal.

Do a final walk-through.

Close and receive the keys.

[Read: The Guide to Selling Your Home]

Research

Think about the kind of house you want and the neighborhood you prefer to live in. Visit sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and realtor.com to get an idea of the houses for sale that meet your criteria.

Consider doing some basic calculations to figure out the home price you could afford. Online mortgage payment calculators are a good starting point and may help adjust your expectations — for example, if you’re looking at million-dollar houses when your budget is more in line with a $250,000 house.

Gather Your Financial Information

Before you reach out to real estate agents and lenders, gather your financial information, including recent pay stubs and bank statements, so you’re ready to provide details as needed. You’ll also want to know your credit score and any issues affecting it, so now is a good time to get your free credit report.

Find a Real Estate Agent

Next, reach out to real estate agents and set up initial meetings or calls. It’s a good idea to interview a few and select the agent who fits your personality and communication style and is knowledgeable about the area where you’re looking to buy. The right agent will help educate you on the homebuying process, point out when price and expectations don’t match and offer insights that you hadn’t thought of before.

Treat the initial meeting or call with an agent like you’re interviewing him or her for a job. “I probably have five, six Zoom calls a day from buyers that are introducing themselves to me,” says Dawn McKenna, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Realty who helps clients buy and sell homes throughout the Chicago metro area as well as in Naples, Florida.

Get Preapproved for a Mortgage

Contact potential lenders to prequalify or get preapproved for a mortgage. This is the first opportunity to tap your real estate agent for advice and guidance on which lenders may have loan programs that will benefit you.

Rachel Street, a Realtor based in Philadelphia and host of “Philly Revival” on DIY Network, says a client’s financial history and ability to get preapproved for a mortgage is often a part of the initial conversation so she knows where to begin. If credit history may be a problem, for example, she can put the client in touch with a credit repair agency.

A strong credit history and financial profile is especially important in times of economic uncertainty because lenders aren’t as willing to take on borrowers with a higher risk of defaulting on the loan. While borrowers with high credit scores and a history of paying off loans on time won’t have a problem getting a loan, “if you’re not in that situation, you may find it harder to secure financing,” says Patrick Boyaggi, co-founder and CEO of Own Up, a mortgage technology company and marketplace based in Boston.

[Read: What to Expect From the Housing Market in 2020.]

Start Touring Homes

Your real estate agent will likely present you with listings that meet your budget and needs and also encourage you to look online for other homes you may be interested in. While most homebuyers prefer in-person tours of a property to make a decision, McKenna notes that virtual tours, Instagram Live events and enhanced photography for online viewing are growing in popularity among buyers who can’t or don’t want to visit in person.

Find the House You Want and Make an Offer

Once you’ve found the house you’d like to call home, it’s time to have a conversation with your agent about making an offer. Review the sale price of similar homes in the area that sold recently to help you determine how much you feel the home is worth.

Street says she often explains the market value of a home based on data, but she stresses that buyers should factor in their own wants and needs as well. For example: “This house is priced at $600,000, but the market value of this house is probably closer to $550,000 — where do you feel comfortable? And obviously you don’t have to come in at $550,000 if you feel it’s worth $600,000 to you,” Street says.

Negotiate as Needed

The seller may make a counteroffer or request that you cover certain closing costs, which requires some back and forth between your agent and the agent representing the seller. During negotiations, work with your agent to find the best path forward regarding contingencies in the contract or other outlying factors that might affect the sale price, your willingness to purchase the house or your ability to close on time.

Schedule a Home Inspection

With the deal pending, it’s time to get moving with the due diligence process — part of which is the home inspection. McKenna explains that your agent should be a solid source of professional recommendations as you approach closing and should give you more than one to choose from. “From the moment something is contracted, we give (buyers) several inspectors that have provided in-depth analysis of inspections and have done a great job,” she says.

Submit Your Loan Application

“As soon as you go under contract, you also want to make a formal application for the mortgage with your lender,” Street says. You’ll need to provide your most recent financial information, such as bank statements and pay stubs, to show you’re still employed and haven’t made any major purchases recently.

Tap Other Necessary Professionals

Before closing, you’ll also need to pull in other professionals, including a title insurance company, real estate attorney, homeowners insurance company and maybe an architect or contractor if you’re planning to renovate the house immediately.

Get an Appraisal

Your lender will typically require an appraisal of the property to ensure the determined sale price matches the market value of the property. The appraisal often figures into the total closing costs of a home.

[Read: A Checklist for Moving to Your New Home]

Do a Final Walk-Through

A couple of days before closing, you’ll complete a final walk-through of the property, which allows you to check and make sure it’s still in good condition.

Close and Receive the Keys

Closing itself is fairly straightforward and requires signatures noting the transfer of ownership. You may sign documents in person with a representative from your title insurance company or with e-signatures if they are allowed, depending on your state.

Once you have the keys in hand, you’re now the owner of a new home. Don’t be concerned about navigating tricky situations you’re unfamiliar with on your own — your real estate agent will remain a valuable resource well past your purchase date. “We don’t just drop people when they close,” McKenna says. “We’re constantly in touch with people long after.”

More from U.S. News

How to Tactfully Back Out of a Real Estate Contract

Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Sell Your Home in 2020

10 Secrets to Selling Your Home Faster

How to Buy a House originally appeared on usnews.com

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California’s vague new financial regulation law

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California Capitol. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

In summary

California has a new financial regulation law but its reach is vague and awaits more definition.

Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

Although the new state law is said to mirror the Dodd-Frank law, it contains at least one significant difference. When federal regulators levy fines for what they consider to be bad conduct, the money goes into the federal treasury. When state regulators impose their fines of up to $1 million a day, the money will be retained by the new agency to finance more activity.

Will that give the new agency a financial incentive to skip over minor consumer issues and go after big companies? It’s a question that only time will answer.

Significantly too, the new investigative and regulatory mechanism contained in AB 1864 specifically does not usurp the authority of the attorney general to also target companies under the state’s equally vague “unfair competition” law.

From its inception a decade ago, Dodd-Frank has attracted criticism from business executives for regulatory overkill. Will California’s new version be less controversial? We won’t know until the new agency puts some definitional meat on its bones.



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California’s vague new financial regulation law – Whittier Daily News

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Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.

Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.

However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.

The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.

The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.

It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.

Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.

Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.

The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”

Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.

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397 people register to vote on deadline day at Duval Supervisor of Elections – 104.5 WOKV

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Monday, Oct. 5 at midnight, is the deadline to register to vote in Duval County.

But the Supervisor of Elections helped hundreds of people get registered today.

Robert Phillips, the chief elections officer of the Duval Supervisor of Elections, told Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole that 397 people came down to the Supervisor of Elections in downtown Jacksonville to get registered.

Supervisor of Elections staff assembled tents outside to allow people to register to vote without having to go through the COVID-19 prescreening necessary to enter the building.

“Again, 2020 has thrown us some challenges,” Phillips said.

There was even a little rain thrown into the mix today, but it didn’t stop folks from coming out.

“Out here, we have a lot of activity. We’ve been going since first thing this morning,” Phillips told Action News Jax.

There were people of all ages from all walks of life — some even registered for the very first time like Lemark Jamison.

Monday, Oct. 5, is a day he will always remember.

“It feels awesome, you know? It feels awesome,” Jamison told Cole.

Today, Jamison had the opportunity to register to vote for the first time in Florida.

“I’ve worked for voter registration companies. I’ve done advocating for Amendment 4, but I was never able to vote because of my prior background. But now I can,” Jamison said.

Jamison, the owner of a tax and credit repair business, told Cole his prior felony conviction held him back in the past.

In November 2018, more than 60% of Floridians voted to restore voting rights to more than 1 million people who completed their sentences.

But several months later, legislation was passed that required them to pay all financial penalties, which means thousands lost the right as quickly as they gained it.

“I’ve been contributing to society. I’ve been able to have several businesses. And I pay taxes. But I haven’t been able to, when it comes to voting, whether in a local level or any type of legislature — I haven’t been able to vote,” Jamison said.

The 35-year-old told Cole even though his wife helped him fill out his voter registration form — to which he exclaimed, “Thank God for wives, right?” — he told Cole it was pretty easy.

Now, he has this advice to share with other people who may be in his shoes:

“Get out and vote. Take advantage of this opportunity, regardless of who you plan on voting for.”

Here’s a breakdown from the Supervisor of Elections of how the 397 people registered today:

-56% registered as Democrats.

-21% registered as Republicans.

-22% registered as nonparty affiliates.



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