Blog   Tagged ‘real estate’

4th step to buying a home: searching & making an offer

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Have you:

Good! Then it’s time to start house hunting. As a mortgage loan officer for the last 10 years, I certainly have a lot of knowledge in real estate, but still always refer to experienced realtors for this next step. Their knowledge of the housing market, along with expertise in real estate contracts, are the key to making the best selection of the property in which you could spend at least 5 years (but for some of you, potentially the rest of your life). I referred to Anita Trozzolo, a Kansas City realtor to give us some guidance for this next step.


Create a priority list

You are making perhaps the biggest purchase of your life, and you deserve to have that purchase fit both your wants and needs.

Your priority list should include the basics, such as:

  • neighborhood and size
  • number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • basement (finished or unfinished)
  • a kitchen that comes with appliances

If you can’t get a home at your price with all the features you want, then what features are most important?  Start prioritizing.  For instance, would you trade fewer bedrooms for a finished basement?  A longer commute for a larger home and lower cost?

What type of home best suits your needs?

You have several options when purchasing a home from a traditional single-family home, duplex, townhouse or condo.  Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your wants and needs, so you need to decide which type of property is best for you. You can also save on the purchase price in any category by choosing a fixer-upper. Keep in mind, though, the amount of time and money involved to turn a fixer-upper into your dream home might be much more than you expected.

Regardless of your choice, it’s important to target your search. By using options such as general location and affordability, you can refine your search and focus on homes that offer the most desirable features. However, based on my experience with the hundreds of first time home buyers for whom I successfully found and negotiated their first home, it is imperative to nail down location first.  The majority of buyers purchase homes from their choices in their most desired location.

Here are some more tips for your search:

  • Make sure your realtor understands your wants and needs.
  • Your agent must be patient, and show you as many homes as you would like to see. This is most likely the largest purchase of your life!
  • Have your agent set you up on an automatic home search program. This is an efficient way to guide you in your search.
  • Drive through neighborhoods on your off time to check out the area.
  • Choose your favorites before submitting an offer, and tour as many times as you feel comfortable.  Oh, and don’t forget to bring parents and friends. The more eyes the better!

Submit an offer, and most importantly understand the sales contract.  Your agent will assist you with the following:

  • To determine how much to offer, your realtor will show you a market analysis of all the recent sold properties comparable to the home or homes you’re interested in.
  • Obtain all material defects known from the seller through the seller’s agent.  
  • Discuss types of insurance that is required.
  • Counsel you on what price to offer the seller.
  • Make sure closing costs are explained and negotiated.
  • Make sure home warranty is explained and negotiated.
  • Explain the sales contract and all other forms associated with the contract.
  • Present your offer to the seller.
  • Negotiate your offer and counteroffers.
  • Set up inspections.
  • Provide the contract to the lender and closing company.
  • Stay in constant communication with the lender.
  • Arrange and attend the closing.
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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

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The Plan in Planned Giving

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Planned giving can be an important tool when planning for the future of your estate. Some may have a desire to give to non-profit organizations, including their alma mater, a medical research project or a favorite youth organization. Whatever your desire, make sure you work with an experienced financial partner that can help guide you through the process to ensure your goals can be met.

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First, what constitutes a meaningful gift?

Quite simply, any gift is a meaningful gift. Many people are under the impression that only the very wealthy can be philanthropic. However, this is not the case. Gifts of any size are greatly appreciated by non-profit organizations, especially now as economic challenges have affected many individuals’ ability to donate while the needs continue to grow.

Motivations for gifting

The reasons for gifting vary greatly depending on the individual. Compassion for those in need, an extension of a religious or spiritual commitment, desire to share good fortune with others and memorializing the lives of others are some of the most prevalent reasons for planned gifts. You should personally evaluate your motivation and goals, and keep them in mind when determining how and when you want to support a cause.

Selecting the “right” organization

There are many worthy organizations, and choosing the non-profit that best fits your giving intentions is extremely important. Once your inspiration for giving has been clearly identified, make a short-list of potential groups. Organizations should be carefully researched and vetted to ensure you are comfortable with the final decision. It’s important to learn about a specific topic or organization, so your philanthropy can be used in a meaningful way. Once one or more organizations have been selected, a financial partner can help you define your vision, determine how the gift will be distributed and then evaluate, when possible, how the gift has been used.

Gift Options

Another item to consider is the type of gift you may want to give. Many organizations have gift acceptance policies, which may exclude certain types of donations. Things like stocks, real estate, art or other items may be quite valuable, but you should have a conversation with the organization first to ensure they are able to accept these types of gifts.  

Planned giving is an extremely meaningful and personal investment. Taking the time to evaluate these types of questions can really help individuals and organizations make the most of charitable gifts.

Jan Leonard is senior vice president and managing director for charitable trusts, private foundations and fine art services. She joined UMB in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in the management of private and public organizations. Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. She is also a graduate of the Cannon School of Foundation Management.

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My Home is Worth What? (Hometown Perspective: Denver)

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UMB serves communities across an eight-state footprint. Each region is different, with its own personality and local economy. With that in mind, we’re launching a new Hometown Perspective series where you can gain insight into UMB and the communities we serve.

HomeAs a recent home buyer in Denver, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my home had increased in value by almost 40 percent over the last several months. No, I’m not a real estate genius with an uncanny ability to spot a home at low price and flip it for a profit.  Actually, I bought my home with the idea that I would live there for the rest of my life.

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So why do I care about a rise in home value if I’m not planning to sell any time soon, if ever? The answer is that my home is a series of projects and this boost in value gives me the equity to spend on home improvements. I will be able to add a floor over the subfloor in the living room and remodel the kitchen with new cabinets and a double oven with a warming drawer. This has been the plan all along but now I can complete these projects much sooner than I expected.


So if you’re like many in the Denver area and your home has increased in value recently, what should you do? Put a “For Sale” sign in your front yard? Head to your local bank and apply for a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)? It all depends on your own situation and your long-term plan.

  • Selling

    If you’re thinking about selling your home because the value has increased, you might consider sprucing it up a bit and then contacting your realtor. Add a coat of paint to some of the walls or have the carpet professionally cleaned. Then call up a real estate professional to work with you on selling your home.

  • Renovating

    If you plan to stick with your home for the long haul, it might be a good time to consider using your equity to start a remodeling project. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to a trusted source of advice like your financial advisor or local banker.  They are usually well-equipped with experience, knowledge and tools that can help you decide.

Whatever you choose to do, be cautious and don’t jump into any big decisions without doing research. Look up the value of your home on sites like Zillow* and Trulia*. If you’re planning to apply for a HELOC, talk to a financial professional at your local bank about how much of your home’s value to borrow. You might even consider getting multiple opinions. If you plan to sell, you can consult your realtor on the best steps to take to prepare your home and when is the best time to put it on the market.

While you can work with a good real estate market to your advantage, your home is an asset that you should use wisely.


When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

* UMB Bank, n.a. has provided these links for informational purposes only, and in no way endorses or insures the accuracy of the information contained therein.

Ms. Hales is vice president, financial center manager for the UMB financial center located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Denver, Colo. She is responsible for planning and executing sales routines with branch staff, coaching all team members. She joined UMB in 1990 and has 23 years of experience in the financial services industry.

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