Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Q: We have looked at a couple of manufactured homes on the Island because they are affordable and some we’ve seen are very nice.

Friends keep telling us that it’s impossible to get a home loan for them. They also say you have to pay a lot higher interest rate. We’ve heard you have a lot of experience with manufactured homes so we wanted your opinion.

A:    I just sold a very nice manufactured home on acreage and the buyer got a 3.5% interest rate.  Closing costs were also very low.  It’s not hard to get a loan for a manufactured home but there are some differences.  There are only a few lenders who will loan on a manufactured home but they do a fine job.  In addition, no lender that I’m aware of will loan on one as an investment (rental) property.
It’s OK if it’s going to be a second home, but not if you intend to rent it out as an investment.

There is a great range of quality in manufactured homes as there are in any houses.  You want to be sure that it’s a high quality home and, if possible, that it’s less than 20 years old.  You can’t get a loan on any manufactured home build in 1976 or older.  They also won’t lend on a single wide home.
Manufactured homes have to be well maintained just like any home.  If properly cared for and built by one of the top manufacturers it will be an excellent home for a very long time.  I’ve sold homes as old as 1978 that were in excellent shape.

Some years ago the state began requiring that manufactured homes be built to the same basic HUD standards as “stick” built homes.  The same 4x6 exterior walls etc. as well as upgraded plumbing and electrical.  The best manufacturers offer hardwood floors, clearstory windows, skylights, vaulted ceilings, large beautiful kitchens and lovely bathrooms and all the other bells and whistles.
Work with a broker who understands and has experience working with manufactured homes and with the lenders who loan on them.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Q: We just got a refinance on our home which went well.

But we had never read our title policy before and the lender pointed out that we have an easement along one side of our property to allow for a driveway to the undeveloped land behind our lot. I was so shocked and upset! If anyone ever decides to build back there we will lose a huge part of our property and privacy. I think it’s a 20 foot wide easement. Is there any way to fight this?

A: Such egress and ingress easements are common on Vashon and in most rural areas. If it’s a properly written legal easement then there isn’t much you can do. You should speak to one of the attorneys for the title company to be sure it’s defendable. You can also check with a good real estate attorney. I’m sure your lender was trying to be helpful but you shouldn’t just settle for his opinion.

Since you’re lucky that no one has actually built the road, you have some time to do some major landscaping. Have a survey done so that you know exactly where the boundary of your property is and where the easement is located. You can then plant fast growing trees and bushes a few feet back from that potential driveway. Fast growing plants can screen the future road so that at least you don’t have to see it. It might be many years before that parcel’s developed.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Q: I’m really sick of you recommending that people go see a lawyer.

If you don’t know the answers then why do you put yourself out there as some kind of expert? I had some specific questions and you said I should consult an attorney.  That cost me a lot of money.  If I have to ask an attorney every question then who needs a real estate broker?

A:  First, you have to understand that a real estate license is not a license to practice law.  We can answer certain kinds of questions, discuss property issues, fill in forms, and give our own opinions based on experience.  But we can’t give legal advice.

It’s critical that for as large an investment as buying a home, you get the best advice you can.  For instance, title companies answer specific title questions and have their own attorneys.  I can read and understand most title policies and have had training to do so.  Many real estate brokers have also had that special trained.  But beyond a certain point we simply do not have the expertise and must refer you to the title company attorney.

There are issues with lending and loans that are beyond our knowledge too.  I can help you understand the basic structure of lending and your loan documents, but there are many things that only an attorney can explain. There really is no such thing as “boilerplate” language. All contracts should be read and fully understood.   I want you to have the best information possible.  I would be doing you a great injustice if I just spouted off anything that crossed my mind without really having the knowledge, experience or training to be accurate.

I don’t often recommend that you get advice from an attorney but when I do you can be sure it’s for something important.  After 25 years in this business and a substantial education, I feel I can answer basic questions and give reasonable advice.  But when I’m in doubt I want to be able to send you to whatever expert I think you need, including an attorney.