Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That Work

May 17, 2019

Inexpensive Curb Appeal Tips That WorkNo doubt you’ve been told that curb appeal will help sell your home. But if money is short you’ll need to do some curb appeal on a budget tricks.

Following are some inexpensive curb appeal tips that really work.

Fresh Coat Of Paint

A fresh coat of paint adds curb appeal without busting the budget. With a gallon of paint you can freshen up the window ledges, shutters, front door and the garage door. Add a fresh coat of paint to decks and railings, and street lampposts, as well. 

Solar Lighting

You can find inexpensive solar lighting stakes at discount stores around the country. Add these to the edges of the driveway, along the front pathway and around front hedges for nighttime curb appeal.

Metallic Paint

If you can’t afford brand new hardware for your front door, consider investing in a small tub of metallic paint. Refinish the doorknob, door knocker and the metal porch light fixtures. 

Annuals

Landscaping can be pricey, but with a couple dozen inexpensive blooming annuals you can transform your front walkway. Choose the most colorful annuals you can find at your local discount store. Plant right alongside the path leading to your front door. Fill in empty spaces in between plants with colored mulch. 

Wreath

Simply hanging an attractive wreath on your front door adds a tremendous amount of curb appeal that can be seen all the way from the road. To avoid marring the wood, use a wreath hanger that installs over the top rim of the door. 

New House Numbers

Pick up a set of brand new house numbers from your local hardware store. Hang them front and center next to your mailbox on your porch, on your mailbox post or over your garage door.

Refreshed Mailbox

Mailboxes get ignored so many times. It’s a shame because it’s easy to add curb appeal with an inexpensive magnetic mailbox cover. If you have a different kind of mailbox, consider just giving it a fresh coat of spray paint. 

Bird House

Another inexpensive way to add curb appeal is with a decorative bird house or similar lawn ornament next to your front porch. These are on long stakes that you simply push into the ground. Tick one into your hedges for a charming look.

You can complete these inexpensive curb appeal tips with a minimum of time and money. Yet, they’ll have a similar impact as if you spent hundreds of dollars. 

If you are interested in purchasing a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

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Can I Sell A House That Still Needs Repairs?

May 15, 2019

Can I Sell A House That Still Needs RepairsWhen you started thinking about putting your house up for sale, you probably made a list of repairs that need to be done ahead of time. If that list was long, you might be at a point where you’re asking if it’s all worth it. Will prospective buyers really notice the little things? And even if they do, will that affect how much you’re able to get for your home?

You Can Sell An Imperfect House

Your house doesn’t need to be perfect in order to sell it. Many older homes have some issues like outdated kitchens and bathrooms or wall-to-wall carpeting that needs to be replaced or gotten rid of.

But be aware that a house in need of repair or is different than a house that needs updating. Outstanding repairs are a red flag to buyers that you haven’t maintained the home as you should have over the years. Buyers may suspect that your home needs even more repairs than the obvious issues. So first off, you might have more buyers walk away from a house in need of repair and second, you will probably get less money for your home. 

Outstanding Repairs Give Buyers Leverage

When you try to sell a home that’s in need of repairs, you give buyers leverage to get a lower price out of you. For instance, if your house needs a new furnace, the buyers might say, “Well, we’ll make an offer but it’s lower by this amount because we know we’ll have to get a new HVAC system as soon as we move in”.

That amount for the HVAC system will usually be more than what you could have paid for a new furnace before listing your home. You can almost always sell your house for more by taking care of repairs first.

One thing that real estate agents advise is to get an independent home inspection report before you sell. This will give you an official list of all the repairs that need to be done. Then you can pick and choose among which repairs you should take care of.

This also helps to avoid unpleasant surprises later on. Even though finishing repairs can be costly and time-consuming, many home sellers find that it’s worth it to do as much as possible before listing. The final purchase price often ends up reimbursing you for your expenses, if not for your time.

As you prepare to sell your current property, it’s a good idea to consult with your trusted mortgage professional about your financing options for your next home purchase.

The Benefits Of Developing A Multi-Use Property

May 10, 2019

The Benefits Of Developing A Multi-Use PropertyRenovations that create a multi-use property or the development of a new multi-use project can be a very attractive investment especially in urban areas that are undergoing redevelopment. The concept of multi-use is to make the most of the site that is revitalized or developed.

Multi-Use Projects

Typical multi-use projects have a mixture of retail space, restaurants, offices, and/or living spaces. They may include parking areas. Large multi-use projects can also become destination locations that are core improvements, which create a momentum for the gentrification of an entire area. Waterfronts, boardwalks, and walking promenades are successful as multi-use projects in many cities.

The advantages for investors in these projects include the ability to design the use of the space to maximize the return on investment (ROI). Depending on the area for the project’s construction, there may also be tax advantages.

Tax Advantages

Under the new tax laws, Opportunity Zones all across America have been created to stimulate redevelopment in areas that are distressed. The federal tax advantages include either delaying capital gain taxes or avoiding them altogether if investors hold the investments for more than ten years.

It is also possible to sell a project in an Opportunity Zone for a profit and then reinvest the proceeds under a tax exchange transaction into another investment in an Opportunity Zone and avoid paying the capital gains. Check with a competent real estate and tax attorney to learn how to set up an Opportunity Zone Fund to maximize the tax advantages.

Additionally, the financial basis used for calculating any profits on the second transaction is raised, thereby locking in the tax savings on the profits from the first transaction. This is a very effective strategy for build-to-suit developers who organize a multi-use development project in an Opportunity Zone with the intent to sell it.

State, County, And Municipal Support

Depending on the location, there may be state, county, and/or municipal support in terms of tax abatements and contribution of the land and funds for the development of a multi-use project.

Lack Of Basic Services

Another key consideration is that many Opportunity Zones lack sufficient basic services. Some neighborhoods do not even have a grocery store. A multi-use development, in a distressed neighborhood, which offers services and stores for these basic needs, is likely to experience an immediate consumer demand for the offerings.

Loans And Investment Funds For Multi-Use Projects

Lenders are more attracted to multi-use projects because of the possibility of higher average rents per square foot that will cover the monthly mortgage payments. Multi-use projects can be successfully funded by crowd-sourcing techniques as well.

Opportunities For Real Estate Agents And Brokers

REALTORS® have commission-earnings potential in the sale/acquisition of the properties for a multi-use development, leasing out the properties when developed, and selling a project upon construction completion or after being leased out.

Conclusion

The advantages of multi-use approaches as a development project are significant. There is plenty of support available in many parts of the country for these projects. REALTORS® benefit from many opportunities for commissions on each project as the development begins, the project is leased out, and then potentially sold.

If you are interested in investment properties, be sure to schedule an appointment with your trusted lending professional to discuss your financing options.

Case-Shiller: February Home Price Growth Rate Slowest in 6.50 Years

May 9, 2019

Case-Shiller February Home Price Growth Rate Slowest in 6.50 YearsHome price growth slowed in February according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. Home price growth hit its lowest rate in more than six years; this indicates that the roaring growth of home prices is settling and could provide opportunities for more would-be buyers to enter the housing market.

The 20-City Housing Market Index rose 0.20 percent in February as compared to January. Year-over year home prices grew by 3.00 percent and missed analyst expectations of a 3.20 percent growth rate. The 20-City Index reported slowing trends in home price growth and emerging trends in housing markets within metro areas tracked.

California’s Hold On Top Housing Price Growth Topples

Home price growth in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California slowed enough to lose their hold on highest home price growth rates seen in recent years. San Francisco was the only city to lose ground in national home price growth with a reading of 1.40 percent growth.

The top three cities with highest gains in home prices were Las Vegas, Nevada with year-over year home price growth of 9.70 percent; Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by 6.70 percent and Tampa, Florida where home prices grew by 5.40 percent year-over-year.

No double-digit home price gains were reported in the 20-City Home Price Index in February; as a comparison, home prices in Seattle, Washington had grown at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 12.70 percent a year ago. Rapidly rising home prices slowed in California due to lack of homes for sale coupled with affordability.

Buyers seeking affordable homes in temperate climates shifted their searches to metro areas offering more homes for sale at affordable prices. While fluctuating mortgage rates impact homebuyers depending on home loans, slower rates of home price appreciation can encourage would-be home buyers to enter the market.

Regional Home Price Growth Trends Shift

Home price growth slowed nationally; Case-Shiller’s February reading showed a year-over-year rate of 4.00 percent growth as compared to January’s reading of 4.20 percent home price growth. David M. Blitzer, chair and managing director of the S&P Indices Committee, cited slowing growth in new home sales, housing starts and residential investment as more signs of cooling housing markets. Mr. Blitzer also said that regional trends in home prices growth were shifting. While home price growth in East and West Coast and Great Lakes regions slowed, home price growth gained in inland areas.

 

How to Become A Billionaire Land Trader

May 8, 2019

How to Become A Billionaire Land TraderTrading land like a billionaire relies on three simple premises. The first one is to acquire the land for cheap. The second one is to never intend to sell it. The third one is, if you trade it, trade up.

Howard Hughes

Billionaires that start with an inheritance have an advantage. Howard Hughes was born into wealth. His father invented an oil drill that penetrated difficult, hard rock, which made Howard Hughes one of the richest men in the world from his inheritance.

Hughes visited Las Vegas during WWII for the first time. Then, in the 1950s, he traded some parcels of desert land that he owned in Northern Nevada for 40 square miles (26,500 acres) of federal land. This property, managed by the US Bureau of Land Management, was in the northwest of Las Vegas.

Hughes died on April 5, 1976. Well after his death, this land would later become the master-planned community of Summerlin. The first family moved into Summerlin during 1991.

Vacant lots in Summerlin now sell for an average of $2 million per acre. This makes the land Hughes originally acquired by a trade of land worth a few million, equal to about $53 billion today.

Billionaire Lessons

Howard Hughes was not exactly clever. He was just greedy and stubborn. He decided to make Las Vegas his home after he came for a party in 1966. He stayed at the Desert Inn in the penthouse. After ten days, when his reservation was over, the manager asked him to leave. Instead, stubborn Hughes bought the hotel.

Next, Hughes went on a buying spree. He bought three casinos. He acquired all the vacant lots around the Desert Inn. He purchased all the vacant land on both sides of the street that became known as the Las Vegas strip. He bought the North Las Vegas airport and the land around the McCarron International Airport, which is right off the strip. Hughes’ appetite for buying things was insatiable.

The lesson learned is to buy and hold all the key land that is available. Be patient. It took 40 years for the land value in Summerlin to really take off in terms of value. Hughes did not live to see this but maybe he is laughing from his grave. One thing is certain, the desert land that, long ago, nobody but Hughes wanted became worth a fortune.

Investing In Raw Land

Investing in raw land that becomes valuable depends on just a few considerations, which include:

  • Location: Select land that is in the path of future growth.
  • Hold: Be prepared to own the land for a very long time.
  • Stimulate Development: Develop the area or encourage others to do so.

Summary

Land traders achieve success by being extremely patient. They are able to imagine the future growth of an area ahead of others. Land trading may create long-term opportunities because of the continual expansion of the population. This happens frequently around metropolitan areas in many parts of America. 

If buying land appeals to you, be sure to meet with your trusted mortgage professional to discuss investment financing options.

States With The Best Opportunities To Acquire Investment Property

May 3, 2019

States With The Best Opportunities To Acquire Investment PropertyReal estate investors sometimes get stuck in a rut. They repeat the same type of investment that they did before. This is not necessarily a bad thing because a successful experience is worth repeating. However, it is also a good idea to occasionally take a look at the big picture as well, to see what else is out there for investment consideration.

Real estate markets go up and down. This can be a regional phenomenon. In some states, there are lots of properties that are “underwater.” This means the owners borrowed more on their property than it is currently worth.

In other states, there are properties that generate positive cash flow, while increasing in value. This is very desirable. It means that after paying all the expenses of owning the property, there is cash left over for the owner to receive and profits when selling the home.

Invest In Value

The investment strategy of buying low and then selling high is sage advice. To that, we would add the fine-tuning of buying value. Buying value means making investments that produce the greatest positive cash flows, while the investments appreciate in value.

State-By-State Comparisons

GoBankingRates did an analysis of the United States to see what states currently offer the best real estate deals for investors. They took a look at the three top markets in each state. They calculated the average for the home values and noted the increase in property value from 2017 to 2018.

There are 15 states that offer opportunities worth considering, which are:

Utah 

The three largest markets are Salt Lake, Provo, and Ogden. The average home price is $350,000 with a 12.6% year-over-year increase in value.

Idaho

The largest markets are Boise, Idaho Falls, and Coeur d’Alene. The average home price is $304,000 with a 12.6% year-over-year increase in value.

Montana

The largest markets are Billings, Missoula, and Great Falls. The average home price is $343,000 with an 11.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Maine

The largest markets are Augusta, Bangor, and Portland. The average home price is $231,000 with a 10.7% year-over-year increase in value.

Indiana

The largest markets are Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and Evansville. The average home price is $179,000 with a 9.3% year-over-year increase in value.

Tennessee

The largest markets are Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville. The average home price is $251,000 with a 9.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Georgia

The largest markets are Atlanta, Augusta, and Columbus. The average home price is $250,000 with an 8.8% year-over-year increase in value.

Michigan

The largest markets are Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Warren. The average home price is $205,000 with an 8.5% year-over-year increase in value.

Missouri

The largest markets are St. Louis, Springfield, and Kansas City. The average home price is $203,000 with an 8.1% year-over-year increase in value.

Mississippi

The largest markets are Jackson, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport. The average home price is $191,000 with a 7.4% year-over-year increase in value.

Ohio

The largest markets are Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland. The average home price is $207,000 with a 7.2% year-over-year increase in value.

Nebraska

The largest markets are Omaha, Lincoln, and Bellevue. The average home price is $221,000 with a 7.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Alabama

The largest markets are Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville. The average home price is $210,000 with a 7.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Kentucky

The largest markets are Louisville, Lexington, and Bowling Green. The average home price is $226,000 with a 6.0% year-over-year increase in value.

Arkansas

The largest markets are Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Fayetteville. The average home price is $195,000 with a 5.7% year-over-year increase in value.

Summary

There are interesting opportunities uncovered by this analysis. Utah and Idaho are very attractive for investing right now. Real estate investors considering any of these states can also compare population growth rates, unemployment rates, cost-of-living, and other livability factors when making an investment decision.

If you’re interested in looking at properties in another state, be sure contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss investment financing options.

What To Look For In A Real Estate Agent

May 1, 2019

What To Look For In A Real Estate AgentYou have lots of choices when it comes to choosing a real estate agent. Aside from deciding if you’d prefer to work with a man or woman, and what age range you’d like them to be, here are some tips to help ensure that you pick one that is best suited for your needs.

Signs In Their Bio

The first thing to do is read the bios of any real estate agents you’re considering. Bios tell a lot about an agent, including what certifications they hold and how long they’ve been an agent. Some bios even have some personal information such as charitable interests or a little about their family life. Look for signs that the agent’s interests and certifications align with your needs.

Relevant Experience

A lot of real estate agents specialize in a certain area such as short sales or helping first-time homebuyers. If your situation falls into a particular category, you could look for a real estate agent who caters to your particular needs. This can simplify the experience, since the real estate agent will have some expertise in navigating the details of the transaction. Look for relevant experience in their bio, or ask them personally.

Good Rapport

You’ll likely be working with your real estate agent for a long time. The relationship between you and your agent should be pleasant. Not only should you have a good rapport with your agent, but you should be able to feel like they understand the human aspect of what you’re trying to achieve with your home buying or selling. You can gauge the rapport with a prospective agent with a simple phone call or brief in-person interview before you hire them.

Presentation

Make sure that your real estate agent makes a good personal presentation. They should comport themselves in a professional manner and dress accordingly. Remember that your agent will be representing your home and your interests to others. You’ll get the best results when your agent professionally reflects your goals in the transaction.

Your partnership with a trusted real estate agent is an important part of a successful real estate experience and transaction. A number of real estate agents will be vying for your business. Use these tips to make sure that you choose the one who best matches up with your needs, personality and style.

Remember, your trusted home mortgage professional will likely have excellent real estate referrals. Be sure to ask when you schedule your consultation to inquire about financing options and pre-approval.

The Economics Of Going Green For Home Sales

April 30, 2019

The Economics Of Going Green For Home SalesEarth Day is celebrated each year in April to remind us all of the benefits of ecologically-sound living that is more in harmony with Mother Earth. There is quite a bit of positive news when it comes to going “green.” There are significant benefits for home sales.

Green homes may sell faster and for higher prices. Many people are willing to pay more for a green home in order to receive the long-term benefits of the savings on utility costs.

The Numbers Are Very Appealing

AHS reports many encouraging statistics. The estimates are about one-third of the real estate market for single family homes in 2016 was for green homes. The National Association of Builders says that 90% of home buyers consider looking for energy-efficient green homes to be a high priority when shopping for a home.

About 61% are willing to pay up to $5,000 more for a home that as low utility bills because of its green design. The Earth Advantage Study concluded that a green home, which is certified sells for up to 35% more than non-certified home.

The Green Value Proposition

Lawdepot reports that for every dollar that the utility bill is reduced for a home, the average resale value increases from 15 up to 20 dollars.

Here are some cost-effective investments that improve a home’s resale value:

  • Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors: Old, leaky windows and doors are horrible energy-wasters. Upgrade windows and doors to drastically lower energy costs. This also dramatically improves a home’s curb appeal. In terms of resale value, the return on investment is up to 100% over the cost of the installation.
  • LEED Certification: A home that has a LEED certification for energy-efficiency can sell for up to 35% more than a non-certified home.
  • Insulation: Upgrading attic insulation with high-performance blown fiberglass returns about 17% over the cost of the installation.
  • Solar Energy System: Solar energy installations return about 97% of the cost upon resale according to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Depending on the tax incentives and how much was saved on utility bills before the home is sold, there is typically a net positive financial benefit to a homeowner for installing a solar energy system. Moreover, these homes continue to operate normally in a grid-down emergency, which is a big selling point.

Conclusion

Going green, in these suggested ways, helps maximize a home’s resale value. This is helpful for the environment and makes excellent financial sense. Green homes are very attractive to potential buyers, especially in areas that typically have high monthly utility bills.

If going green is a priority to you, be sure to discuss energy efficient incentives and home improvement loans with your trusted mortgage professional.

12 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Utility Bills

April 26, 2019

12 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Utility BillsAccording to the US Department of Energy, the average American household paid $111.67 each month for utilities in 2017. With some research and a few DIY projects, property owners can reduce those energy costs without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

Establish Energy Friendly Habits

Reduce energy waste to see an immediate change in your utility payments.

  • Before bed, walk around your home. Make sure you turn off all lights, televisions, computers, and other plugged-in devices.
  • In the colder months, close the doors to unused spaces to save big on heating bills.
  • Dial down the heat before bed. Invest in extra blankets and cozy pajamas to keep warm without blasting the furnace.

Small habits can add up to big savings.

Incorporate DIY Solutions

These easy projects improve insulation so your interior stays comfortable without HVAC overuse.

  • Use weather stripping to seal off drafty windows.
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors to prevent outdoor air from compromising your indoor temperature.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. Many models allow you to automatically adjust temperatures throughout the day.

It doesn’t take a large investment of time or money to positively impact your utility bills.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Upgrading your appliances is a simple way to reduce energy waste.

  • Install a solar-powered water heater to eliminate the cost of hot water.
  • Replace your light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED versions.
  • Invest in an Energy Star rated washer and dryer to save money on your electric and water bills.

As a bonus, your new appliances improve the look and feel of your space.

Attend To Administrative Tasks

Pay attention to what you’re paying for. Small details can cost you big dollars.

  • Review your billing statements at least once every 3 months. Notice any changes in usage, rate, and fees.
  • Talk to your utility company about average payments. This option allows you to pay a flat rate rather than fluctuating per-use charges.
  • Install a Smart Meter to ensure accurate usage reporting.

Practice due diligence to protect your wallet from unnecessary charges.

You don’t have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle to control utility costs. Incorporate these easy fixes to bring down your monthly obligations without emptying your wallet.

If you feel like the time is right to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, it may also be time to access some of your home equity to help you with expenses. Meeting with your trusted home mortgage professional is the first step to finding out about your best financing options.

8 Curb Appeal Tips for Selling Your Home Fast

April 24, 2019

8 Curb Appeal Tips for Selling Your Home FastFrom small touches such as new lighting to larger efforts such as tiling the porch or stoop, creating curb appeal is one of the best investments you can make to resell your home fast.

Here are eight ideas to maximize curb your appeal.

Landscaping Is Critical For The First Impression

  • Cut Back Trees and Shrubs. Landscaping should enhance your house, not overwhelm it. Trimming can bring impressive results. If you don’t have a steady hand, leave it to a professional or handy relative.
  • Manicure Your Lawn. A freshly mowed lawn is a must the week before a showing. Be sure to trim and edge it for a finished look that increases your curb appeal. 
  • Plant Some Color. If the weather permits, flowering plants are a cheap way to brighten the walkway leading up to your front door. It also gives the home a fresh vibe. Adding fresh mulch to your flower beds is a great quick fix, even in colder weather.

Don’t Forget Your Home’s Exterior

  • Paint the House. If you can’t afford to paint the whole house and the exterior paint is in good condition, consider retouching the trim. The gives your home a sense of newness. If the exterior colors are outdated, painting the home should be a budget priority.
  • Clean the Roof and Gutters. If anything is likely to attract a buyer’s attention, it’s clogged gutters, tree branches brushing the roof and algae growth. If you’re in a drier climate, make sure you don’t have obvious roof damage or missing tiles. If you need to replace the roof, it’s better to get it over with. Chances are, you’ll make up the money with a faster sale at a higher price. 
  • Clean the Walks and Driveway. Pressure wash patios, drives and walkways. Put fresh sealant on black-top driveways for a like-new boost to one of the areas buyers notice first.

Spruce Up The Outdoor Areas

  • Make Outdoor Living Space Inviting: Take steps to make porches, patios and decks clean and inviting. This might include repairing wood decks and restaining them. If you can replace old furniture, it’s a great investment that you can take with you when you go. 
  • Stage the Yard: Just as you stage the inside of the home, it’s important to declutter and depersonalize your outside living area. You can leave furniture in neutral colors so that the buyer can imagine themselves in the space. However, bikes, kids’ toys and the rusted grill need to be stored out of site. 

These basic ideas go a long way toward improving the curb appeal of your home. In return, you may be very happy with the positive effects on the sale of your home.

Be sure to take steps ahead of time to secure your financing for your next home purchase. A great place to start is setting up an appointment with your trusted home mortgage professional.