Q & A with Dottie Herman

Q & A with Dottie Herman

» Featured Columnists | By Dottie Herman | June 22, 2012 9:00 AM ET

Q1 - If you rent your home in the Hamptons, what is the standard list of what you have to provide (e.g. Towels, tv, etc.)?

A - you are renting your house for the summer, then you are generally expected to provide a complete home that includes all living essentials with the exception of anything really valuable. Standard items include TVs, flatware, dinnerware, glassware, and so on. The only real exceptions are sheets and towels, as tenants typically prefer to bring their own. If there is something that you will not be providing, then it should be disclosed to buyers so that they may prepare accordingly.

Also, while not expected, it's a particularly nice gesture to leave renters with things like take-out menus, and a set of directions to places like the local pharmacy/drug store and supermarket.  

Q2 - I read in the paper every day that interest rates are at an all time low.  I was thinking about refinancing my home but don't know if it is worth it.  When does it make sense to refinance?

A - Usually people refinance to save money, either by obtaining a lower interest rate or by reducing the term of the loan. Refinancing is also a way to convert an adjustable loan to a fixed loan or to consolidate debts. The decision to refinance can be difficult, since there are several reasons to refinance. However, if you are looking to save money, try this calculation:

  • Calculate the total cost of the refinance
  • Calculate the monthly savings
  • Divide the total cost of the refinance (#1) by the monthly savings (#2). This is the "break even" time. If you own the house longer than this, you will save money by refinancing.

Q3 - I'm looking for an apartment in Manhattan. I've pre-qualified for a mortgage, and have a steady income to afford what I'm looking for, but I've only been working for a few years and thus don't have enough saved for a 20% down payment. When co-ops say that they require 20% down, is that generally a solid requirement, or can it be negotiated?

A - The maximum allowable financing that a co-operative will allow is non-negotiable. Many first time buyers will consider remedies such as a gift or loan from a family member to assist them with overcoming this important financial threshold in the purchase process. In today's marketplace, many condominiums will require at least 20% as well. Working with an experienced real estate professional can help you find properties to consider that are within your budget. If you would like to speak with one of our agents or a mortgage loan officer, we would be happy to assist you.

Q4 - I applied for a mortgage and was asked if I wanted to lock in my rate.  What is a rate lock?

A - A rate lock is a contractual agreement between the lender and buyer. There are four components to a rate lock: loan program, interest rate, points, and the length of the lock.

If you have a real estate question for Dottie, please send it to;

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