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All FAQs

Here is a list of all of our FAQs in all the categories.  If you want to see ones specific to a topic then use the drop-down menu above.

How long does it take to buy a home?

Assuming you have all of your documents already in order and are pre-approved, it can take 30 – 45 days to close on a home if you are getting bank financing.  Most of this is done on the bank’s side to get loan approval through underwriting. You will have some time at the time of someone accepting your offer called the due diligence period.  This is the time where you will be able to have your inspections done.  You can back out and receive your earnest money deposit back with no questions asked. Here is my first article that I wrote for this site geared toward the Buyer.

What is a FSBO?

A FSBO is a For Sale By Owner.  This is when the seller decides to sell their home on their own.  They typically feel that they can do a better job than a REALTOR® can do.   And the seller is attempting to avoid paying a commission to either the Listing agent or the Buyer’s agent.

In most cases when a person is trying to sell this way and since he is not having any form of representation they tend to actually net a lot less than if they were to have it listed.  This reason is that sellers are usually unfamiliar with all of the steps that are involved in the selling of a home.  Plus, they are only advertising through their own sphere of influence.

A REALTOR® has the luxury of using the MLS which all the other real estate agents in town can now see and use.


Should I do a FSBO or use a REALTOR®?

There are definitely pros and cons to either.   In my opinion, the FSBO can be the one that costs a whole lot more to the seller.

The main reason a seller may want to go the route of doing a FSBO is to save on the commissions paid out to the two brokers and agents.  This could be 4 – 7% of the total sales price typically paid out in commissions.  This can be a significant amount of money especially if your margins are tight.

To play Devil’s Advocate, the REALTOR® specializes in the purchase and sale of a home.  They know the paperwork involved.  They understand the process.  And they know what to do if something were to begin to go sideways.

The biggest advantage is the marketing aspect.  If a seller is going to sell via a FSBO then that seller is putting up their own sign in the yard and creating their own ads for online advertising or even print media.

If a REALTOR® is involved then that agent has access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).  When he lists that home on the MLS then every active agent now has access to it.  Not only that agent, but also every client that each of those agents have.  Thus, you could have thousands of people now seeing the home that would not have seen it in the first place.

What should I do before listing with an Agent?

You will want to interview your possible agents who can assist you in achieving your goals.   Every agent is different and every home is different.  You want to make sure the agent and home are a good match.

The first thing is to define what are your goals on the sale?  What will you do once the home sells?  Where will you live?  Do you want to make more than the purchase price?  There are a plethora of things you need to think about before selling?  You do not want to be starting to cross that bridge on the day you have to move out.

Investors call this their “exit strategy”.  What is your exit strategy or strategies that you are open to taking?

Once I pick a REALTOR®, now what?

As a Listing Agent, I will review values and all the potential exit strategies that you as a seller can be open to.  This is more than just sell it, take the money and run.

If you want more than just the cash sales price we can review creative strategies like Seller Financing and Lease Options.  These are topics I cover when speaking as the Creative Agent.

If you need all of the profits now because you are using that toward another place then we can talk either about an investor’s 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange or about buying a home contingent on your home selling (prior).

After all of the terms are set and contracts are signed then we need to start working on staging your home.

All of these and more are covered in this Article.

Should I stage my home? I am already living in it.

Before I put any home on the MLS, I will need to get photos of the inside and outside of the home.  This is one of the most critical and often overlooked step.

A pretty home will sell a lot quicker than an ugly or dark one.  Especially, if you want to get top dollar.  Too many times have I looked on the MLS to see dark, dingy pictures.  Or ones with poor lighting or taking pictures of a lot of clutter.  All of those will make it harder for someone to fall in love with your home.

If you were to go and look at homes for sale in builder’s communities you will see staged homes that look inviting and pleasing.  You don’t see them with a lot of knickknacks around.

When you are selling your home you want to keep it clean and organized.  Go ahead and put away all of the personal pictures.  Pack all of the clutter items away.

Then the agent can come by and take photos of the home (or have it done by a professional).  All rooms need to be organized and well lit.  No people or animals in any of the photos.

Once the home is listed the agent will have 24 hours to get at least one photo up.  I prefer to have at least 2 to 3 photos at different angles of every room.  This will help with someone looking online to get the flow of the home.

The more your home looks like it is staged the more appealing it will be.   Less is more.

When do I have to be moving out?

Most contracts between buyers and sellers say that the buyer has to be moving out by COE (Close of Escrow).  This means once the home closes and records with the local recorder’s office then the title has changed hands and now the new owners own the home.

In most cases, when an owner occupant buyer buys a home they will want to move in that same day.

Thus, the seller needs to have already moved out.

However, real estate contracts do allow for the seller to rent back the home or it could even have it where the buyer is moving in early.  All contracts are different and this needs to be discussed with your agent before listing it for sale.

It is best to start packing before and/or during the listing period.

How long is the typical Seller Financing?

This is an aspect that is always up to negotiation.  Typically you can see that they will last from 3 to 5 years.  Most seller financing deals are based on a 30 year amortization schedule with a balloon payment.  The balloon payment means at the time it “balloons” the entire remaining balance must be paid.

I have seen 10 year seller financing deals and I have seen 1 year deals.  It all depends on how long the seller is willing

What is a balloon payment?

A balloon payment is when after a certain amount of time has elapsed that the remaining loan balance is due in full.

As an example, let say you are doing seller financing on a home that has a 5-year balloon payment.  This means that on the 60th monthly payment the remaining balance of the loan is due in full.

How do I avoid an upcoming balloon payment?

If you are in a deal where a balloon payment is coming up soon there are essentially only a few things that you can do.  Some are good and some are not.  I will assume you want to avoid the non-favorable ones.

First, you can refinance the home with new conventional financing.  This will pay off any previous debts on the property.

Second, you can sell the property for higher than what your remaining balance is.  This, again, will pay off all of the liens against the home.

Third, you can talk with the person who financed you renegotiate the note.  Possibly getting an extension or an entirely new note created.

Fourth, you can give the property back to the previous seller.  This can be done via a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure or being foreclosed upon.


Who determines the interest rates and the other terms of the loan?

Terms like interest rate, balloon payment, etc. are all part of the negotiation process.

Use a mortgage calculator to determine your principal and interest payments for the amount you are borrowing.  Then write up an offer, or talk with your Agent, to get terms that are agreeable to both parties.

Do not forget that you will also need to understand that you still will have property taxes, homeowners insurance, and possibly other months fees like HOAs, SIDs, and LIDs.

How much is my home worth?

This is a great question!  I know you want to sell your home fast and also to get the most bang for the buck.  Then you will want to ask your local REALTOR® just how much can you get.

Here are a few things that we will have to consider.

  1. What are the comparable home sales (i.e., “comps”) for your area of town?  I like to keep this either in the same subdivision or close by without crossing any major or semi-major street.  These are the homes that have already closed.
  2. What pros and cons your home has in comparison to the neighboring homes?  This can include the type of flooring, countertops, pools, decks and other associated features.
  3. What state of repair is your property in?  Is it a gut job rehab, a pristine palace, or somewhere in between?  This is one you have to look at it from a buyer’s eye.  You cannot look at it from your own perspective.  Talking with an agent can help with this potential question.
  4. How long have homes been sitting in the area (called “DOM” or “ADOM” for Actual Days on Market)?  This date is the date from listing to today (DOM) or the number of days from listing to accepting an offer (ADOM).  The longer a home sits the more questions a potential buyer will have.
  5. Does your home have some great community features that another subdivision may not have?  Are you on a golf course?  Are there community features like pools, spas, workout rooms, etc.?

Give me a call to discuss.  I will be happy to do a quick comparable analysis or even to create a detailed Comparable Market Analysis (CMA).

How accurate is Zillow?

Both Zillow’s Zestimate and Redfin’s Estimate are getting better with technology.  However, there is still a range of error with either site.

According to the Washington Post Zillow’s margin of error in 2019 is getting close to 4.0%.  They have been getting better from a few years ago where it was closer to 10 or even 20% error.

Think about that for a moment.  A 4% margin of error means it can swing 4% high or 4% low.  That is actually an 8% swing in error.

According to the article, this is a passable margin claimed by real estate appraisers.

In my opinion, it is always best to talk to a REALTOR®.

What is Seller Financing?

Seller financing is when the seller of the home (the current owner) will finance a buyer acting as a bank.

In these cases, you don’t need to go through the traditional loan approval process.

Sometimes you will hear the phrase “owner financing” as another way to say this technique.


How much should I put down when doing seller financing?

With the down payment, it will depend on the needs of both the buyer and the seller.

Typically, you see the down payment to be around 20% of the purchase price, but it can go as low as 10% or up to 30% or more.

What interest rates can I expect?

The interest rates with seller financing are usually higher than the normal interest rates found with traditional financing.

When the Fed keeps the interest rates low then you can expect seller financing to be a few “points” (i.e., percentage interest rates) higher.

In those times you can see possibly as low as 5 or 6%.  When the Fed raises interest rates you can expect seller financing to be 10 – 12%.

Why would a seller do seller financing?

There are numerous reasons why a seller would do seller financing (a.k.a., “carry paper”).

Many would do it in a tough economy to help buyers who would not be able to get traditional financing.

Another reason is to have cash flow with the worries of being a landlord.  The bank doesn’t get called for a stopped up toilet.

Another reason is to sell a property making the down payment portion but they don’t have to pay taxes on the sale of the property because they have not received all of the proceeds until the future.

This is a great tool a retiree may do to have cash flow in their later years.

Do I need good credit to do seller financing?

Usually, credit is not an issue when it comes to seller financing.  Most people who use this tool for a primary residence is doing it because they have credit issues yet they do have money.

If credit is an issue the seller may ask for a higher down payment.

Do I need to live in the home to do seller financing?

This question of should you live in the home will depend on the negotiations between the buyer and seller.  It should be disclosed upfront just as if you were buying a home through traditional methods.

What is the difference between owner financing and seller financing?

Both phrases “owner financing” and “seller financing” are used interchangeably in the investor community.

However, I am a stickler for words and usually avoid the phrase “owner financing”.   The reason is that if you are buying a home you are becoming the owner when you occupy the residence.  Thus, if you use that word then that would mean you are financing yourself.

To avoid confusion the seller of the home is the one who is financing you.  Thus, seller financing is a better phrase for this type of transaction.

Does the seller has to own the home “free and clear” to do seller financing?

Having a home being sold is “free and clear” would be ideal.

But, the actual answer to that is No.  And it can also be “it depends”.

When a seller sells a home via seller financing and he/she has an existing mortgage then that home is sold being encumbered.

In the western U.S., this is called an A.I.T.D. (All Inclusive Trust Deed).  In the south, it is known as a Wrap Around Mortgage (Wrap).

If a home has an existing mortgage then you want to take extra precaution to ensure your payment is equal to or greater than the seller’s payment.  If it is less then there is the possibility that you could be foreclosed upon even though you are making your payments.

In any case, I strongly suggest on any A.I.T.D. deal that you use a third-party loan servicing company.

In the cases of “it depends” then that would depend if the seller’s loan on the property has an existing Due on Sale clause.  Thus, if the bank were to find out they could call the loan due to the seller.  He would either have to pay it off or refinance.  This can become a very tricky issue in those cases.

Will seller financing improve my credit?

It is highly unlikely.  Most owners will not be established enough to report your mortgage to any of the three repositories (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).

How do I find people who are willing to do seller financing?

The best case is to contact me to check the MLS for people willing to do seller financing for you.

As a REALTOR®, I have experience in putting these types of deals together.

What is a Lease Option?

A lease option is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a lease (a.k.a. a rental) with an option to purchase at a future time.

Typically you will see between 3 – 10% of the purchase price for this option payment and it is usually paid before you take occupancy of the home.  A price will be set for up to 2 or 3 years at which you must purchase or your option payment can be at risk.

To get a lot more details on how this works as a buyer read this in-depth Article on the subject, The Lease Option, A Buyer’s Perspective.

What is an “Option Payment”?

The option payment secures your right to buy a home.  The amount is typically 3 – 5% of the purchase price of the home and is paid prior to taking possession of the home.

This payment is typically returned back to you when you buy as a Seller’s Concession.  These monies will be applied towards the purchase of the home.  This can be as part of your down payment, your closing costs, and then any remaining funds will go to reduce the purchase price.

This way you have as little out-of-pocket costs as possible when you decide to “exercise your option”.

Can a Cannabis Employee buy a home?

The short answer is, YES.

However, the question you should be asking is: “Can I use the money I make in the Cannabis industry to buy a home?”  The answer to that question is “it depends”.

Most lenders will say NO to that question.  However, there are very few lenders who will say YES to that question.

The main restriction with these few lenders is that you have to a W-2 employee, not an owner, of the company.

The down payment and interest rates are the same if your income came from a different source.  And you will qualify just like any other FHA, VA, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae or USDA borrower.

Call me today to get you started on the right path.


What happens when I am ready to buy?

In the lease option world when you are getting ready to purchase the home that you are already living we call that “exercising your option”.

In that case, you would go through the normal buying process.  If I was the one who put you into the home then I would become your agent to aid with the buying process.

In most cases, unless otherwise agreed, the seller would be paying my commission.

The title company and your lender will work out the details of how much credit you have received and how that would be applied toward the purchase.  As your REALTOR®, I will put together all of the paperwork that would be needed to complete this transaction.

Do I need to open a bank account to buy a home?

In most cases, Yes you do need to open a bank account or have one already in existence.  This is due to a number of reasons.

First is that monies that are being sent to the title company need to be done so in a secure manner.  Title companies don’t typically take cash because the funds have to be traceable.  This is often due to the Patriot Act since the horrific incident in 2001 in New York City.

The funds are usually sent via a wire transfer.  This is to open escrow for the EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) and then a second time at closing to cover your down payment.

If you are being gifted the funds or someone else is buying the home for you on your behalf then you personally will not need to have a bank account.


How long is a typical lease option for?

The length of time for a lease option is mainly dependent on what your credit looks like or based on some other variables.

I typically do a 2 year lease option for a number of reasons.

Many lenders require a 2-year job history in order to get financing.  Also, if you just had a short sale or foreclosure you may need to wait 2 years before you can buy again.

Many people who have credit issues of another matter may need at least one year in order to get their credit straightened out.

Who sets the purchase price? Is it negotiable?

In real estate, everything is negotiable, and this does include who sets the purchase price.

The purchase price is usually locked in for the duration of the contact.  Thus, if you are doing a 2-year contract that will be the price during the entire contract.  This is for both now and two years from now.

If a seller is selling a home traditionally and is offering a lease option you might see the price go up because of the option.  This is typically to try and capture some expected appreciation, especially if you are in an appreciating market.

The final price will have to be agreed upon by all parties to have a contract in place.

Can the owner sell the home to someone else during my lease option?

The actual answer to that question is, “Yes”.  The owner can still sell the home to another person.

A landlord can sell an occupied rental property to another person (think of it as an apartment complex).  The only caveat is that the new owner still has to honor all agreements the seller has made to the occupants.  This includes a lease option contract.

What are my chances that I will be successful in buying the home?

If you are going to buy the home (a.k.a., exercise your option) that will fully depend upon you and your actions.

The harsh truth is that less than 20% of the people who do a lease option actually purchase the home.  All kinds of things can happen during the option period.  Mainly life just happens.

The main reasons people don’t exercise is because they never worked on their credit.  This is crucial when doing an option.

What if I am the owner of a Cannabis business?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “No”.  The residential home loans that I am aware of are only for W-2 employees.  You cannot have any ownership of a Cannabis business in order to qualify for the loan.

How do I qualify for a residential home loan?

If you are buying a residential home through the use of your own income then you must have deposited those monies into a checking or savings account.  You must deposit the full amount.  The deposit must exactly match the pay stub you receive from your employer.  This is particularly important if you are paid in cash with a matching stub.

The money deposited must match the stub in order to be counted.  If it does not match for any reason then it is difficult to actually trace where that deposit came from.  This is true even if it is off by $1.00.  It must match to the penny.

What this means for you is that if you got paid $1,000 for working two weeks then you must deposit $1,000.  At that time you can withdraw any cash you want to have on hand.

What kind of Down Payment do I need?

The Down Payment will be dependent on your credit as well as which loan program you will be qualified for a residential home purchase.

If you are an ex-Veteran then you can get into a home with 0% down.

If you are qualifying under an FHA loan then you will need approximately 3.5% as a down payment and another 1.5% to 2.0% for your closing costs.  You can estimate about 5% down.

There is also Down Payment Assistant (DPAs) programs that you may be able to utilize as well.  This will be fully dependent on your income, credit history, and a few other factors.

Give me a call today and I can put you in touch with a mortgage lender who will be able to answer this specific and unique questions based on your specific situation.

What interest rate should I expect?

Your interest rate will vary depending on a multitude of factors. Here are some things that will have an effect on the interest rate.

First, your credit scores.  People with really good credit will have lower interest rates than someone with marginal credit.

Second, will be the type of loan you are getting.  There is a difference between adjustable rate mortgages (interest rate can go up or down after a few years) and fixed-rate mortgages.

Also, the length of the loan can also have an effect on the interest payment.

Here is a link to check out today’s current mortgage interest rates.

What is a rent credit?

In a lease option, you will hear the term “rent credit” as one of the terms that are negotiated in a contract.

This “rent credit” is a credit that you get from each of your monthly rental payments.  It will be credited toward the purchase of a home.  Typically this may range from $100 to $500 or even more.  Rent credits are based on the monthly rental payment and the desirability of the home.  The higher the monthly base rent will often see a higher rental credit.

Just like the “option payment” this rent credit will be returned to you when you purchase the home as a Seller Concession.  If you don’t purchase the rent credit may be forfeited to the landlord/seller.

How long can I do a lease option for?

The length of a lease option can vary.  It depends on the needs of both the buyer and the seller.

A seller may want a short period of time or may desire a longer period depending on anything from monthly cash flow to tax reasons.  If the seller just purchased the home he may want to do at least one year just due to short term capital gains tax reasons.

Typically, I see lease options go for two years.

The reason I see this is mainly due to the buyer.

When a buyer starts a new job or moves into a new town to start a new job the lending requirements dictate that they must be at the same or similar job for two years before being able to get financed.

If the buyer just had a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy then lending requirements state you must wait at least two years.

If you had a short sale recently then those lending requirements state that you must wait two years.

Thus, buyers often want 2 years or longer.

What if I don’t buy? What happens next?

If you are doing a lease option and you decide to either move out or not exercise your option then you will most likely lose both your option payment and the built-up monthly rental credits.

This is why you need to make sure that before you do a lease option that this is what you actually want t do.  You must be motivated to actually buy the home in the future.

Can I do an extension for more time?

To do an extension on a lease option will depend on both the Buyer and Seller agreeing to the extension.  There is usually nothing in a lease option contract which has automatic renewals.  There are very good reasons for this.

One of the reasons is that nobody has a crystal ball to see what the future will do.  In the 2 or so years that the contract is valid, there is no way of knowing what the rents will be at that time or even the value of the home.

The future price could have dropped or could have boomed.  Also, the rental market could have gone up or down significantly in value.

When doing an extension all of the terms that were set previously will have to be addressed.

This includes is there going to be another option payment?  Will the purchase price change? Will the rents be raised and, if so, will the rental credit be adjusted?  How much more time will be added to the contract?  And the last thing is what happens if you need another extension?

Should I buy now or wait?

That is always going to be a personal judgment call.  All real estate markets fluctuate over time.  Purchase prices will go up in a Seller’s market.  Those same prices will go down in a Buyer’s market.  This is also seen in the stock market where you have Bull and Bear cycles.

There are a few things you must consider when deciding if you should buy now or wait.

  1. What are prices doing right now and does it look like it will go up or not?  Determining if we are in a Bull or Seller’s market means that prices are going up because there are typically fewer sellers than buyers.  This occurs when inventory is low and there is a lot of demand for housing. In a Bear market or Buyer’s market means there is a lot of inventory and buyers can be a lot more selective.  They also can offer less than what a seller is asking and many times will get the home under contract.
  2. What are the interest rates doing now and expect to do in the future? If interest rates go up even by 25 basis points (0.25%) will mean you will be paying more each month for the same dollar amount borrowed.  Sometimes this will mean you will only qualify for a lower dollar amount of a home.
  3. If you are in it for the long haul then market fluctuations don’t really matter very much.  If you plan on staying in a home 10 or more years then home prices typically will go up over larger stretches of time.

Other factors to consider are what are the rental rates doing in comparison to mortgage payments.  If you could be paying less on a mortgage payment than a rental then you are actually saving money.  The amount of principal reduction and the tax savings on the interest rates can be huge over time.  Not to consider the pride of homeownership and other benefits of owning versus renting.

Can I open a bank account, legally?

That is a question that depends upon the bank.  The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Class-1 substance.  Opening a bank account at most banks has to follow federal regulations.

Even if medical marijuana or even recreational and medical marijuana is legal on the state level, it is not legal on the federal level.  Since most banks are FDIC insured they cannot allow banking on something that is still considered an illegal federally.  If they did then the bank could be exposed to a significant legal, operational and regulatory risk.  Thus, they could get in trouble with your accounts.  The government sees this as a potential for money laundering.

How much of a home can I buy?

To determine “how much” is a question that has many variables.  Typically, just like a rental property, you must be able to stay within 30% of your income to cover your home purchase expenses.  This will include the mortgage payment (covering both interest and principal reduction), property taxes, home owner’s insurance, and HOA payments.

Also, are there any other income coming into your household?  This may be your second job (a.k.a. “side hustle”) and any other income coming from a spouse or other people that are purchasing the home with you.

The best answer is to contact me so I can put you into contact with a mortgage lender who can determine your purchase price based upon your unique situation.

What is the first thing I need to do?

When buying a home the first thing is to talk with a mortgage specialist.  Call me to put you into contact with someone first.

However, you will need to have a few things at your disposal to get started.  Every buyer’s profile is different, though.

Some of the basic things you will need are tax returns from the past two years.   I am assuming you have been in the same job industry for at least two years.  This can be anything from management, security or even a budtender (Cannabis employee).  Two-year job history is a must.

You may also need bank statements for at least the past two months.  This can indicate what your cash flow is.

When you speak with a mortgage professional they will have you fill out a Loan Application (a.k.a. a 10-03).  Once you have spoken with them then he/she will issue you a Pre-approval letter.  This pre-approval letter will state what is the maximum amount of home you can buy.

At the time of receiving this pre-approval letter then I can start the process of finding you that perfect home.

How long must I do a deposit into my bank account?

If you have a bank account at 3 or more months you must do this at a minimum of 2 months plus the time it takes to go through the entire escrow process.

If you just opened a bank account to start this process then it is best not to start putting in offers until at least the 3-month mark.  At the 2-month mark will raise some flags with underwriting (the process of approving your loan) which may cause your loan to not be approved.

What will it cost me to sell my home?

This question has a few variables in it.  And it depends on if we are in a Buyer’s market, a Seller’s market, or a neutral market.

When selling it will depend on a few factors.  These factors will change depending upon what is going on in the current market.

Typically, you can expect around 2.5% – 3.0% directly in costs.  This will include the transfer taxes, HOA payments, and other title fees.

The next is going to be the costs for the use of REALTORS® and their associated brokerages.  This amount can have a wide range of values.  Often, in the Las Vegas market, you will see around 4 – 6%.  This can be higher or lower depending on what the listing company will be doing.  Also, the buyer’s agent is being compensated as well.

Other factors can include if the seller is agreeing to pay for any of the buyer’s closing costs (you will see this often in a Buyer’s market when homes are sitting longer).  These costs can include home warranties, repair allowances, and other items too.

I typically tell people to expect about 9% of the purchase price to be a fair estimate.

Can I use a “Gift” from someone to help with my EMD or other costs?

Your EMD or Earnest Money Deposit can be a “gift” to you.  In fact, the entire purchase of the home could be gifted to you.  There is no restriction as far as how much money someone else gives to you.

This gift can also be used to cover closing costs, down payment, and any other part of a residential real estate transaction.

As a Budtender can I use my tips to qualify?

As with anyone who is in the industry of receiving cash tips (e.g., servers, bartenders, valet, Uber drivers), you can use these tips to help you qualify.  But, to use those tips you must report those tips on your tax returns.  You will be paying tax on these additional sources of income.

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