Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

Is Buying A Short Sale Right For You?

June 15, 2018

Is Buying A Short Sale Right For YouIf you have been looking for a new home, and you find one offered under a short sale, this may be to your advantage. While some buyers are wary about buying a home that needs to be sold with the approval of the lender, it’s a great way to get a bargain on a home that you love.

A short sale may be a perfect way to buy a home, as long as you are able to wait until the offer is approved.

The Basics Of A Short Sale

A short sale occurs when the homeowner is facing a foreclosure and trying to avoid it. The true owner of the property, is the lender who provided the money to purchase the home. The borrower owes more on the home than it is worth, and many stop making mortgage payments. Instead of allowing the home to sit there and go to a foreclosure, the lender tries to cut their losses through the process of a short sale.

Additionally, there may be other liens on the home that have to be satisfied by the sale of the property. Anyone that holds a lien on the property has to negotiate the money they are willing to accept for the deal to be finalized.

Why A Short Sale Benefits The Buyer

When you make an offer on a home that is selling under a short sale, you can usually offer less than what the home is worth. The homeowner is eager to sell the home. The homeowner will want to accept an offer fast to get the process started and avoid a foreclosure.

While you may have to wait longer for a short sale to go through than a traditional sale, the savings on the price of the home are usually worth it. Lien holders understand that a short sale is usually the best option to get most of their money, so they are anxious to settle the deal fast.

A short sale is right for you if you aren’t trying to buy a home fast. When you are a savvy buyer, you can make an offer less than the asking price, but you’ll have to wait for all lien holders to accept it. If your current living situation provides you with the opportunity to wait, a short sale will give you more house for your money.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to secure your financing pre-approval, a necessity prior to negotiating this type of transaction. 

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Fix and Flip: Forget What You See on Television

June 13, 2018

Fix and Flip Forget What You See on TelevisionThe drama of home and garden TV shows may be fun to watch, but no matter what you think, reality shows are not at all like real life. If you think it’s easy to buy a house that needs updating and turn it quickly for substantial profit, you might want to think again. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that you should shy away from the idea of buying a “fixer-upper” — just that you should approach such a home purchase with eyes wide open.

Here are some valuable tips:

  • Buying a house that needs cosmetic updates can make financial sense, particularly if you’re handy with a paintbrush, or don’t mind tackling DIY projects in your spare time. The willingness to make a house your home through ongoing TLC can be rewarding in terms of both dollars and good sense, if the structure is sound and all systems are in working condition.
  • Modern appliances, updated lighting and water-saving plumbing fixtures and faucets — even new carpeting and tile — are all items that can be replaced over time as your budget allows. But if the existing home systems aren’t in working order, you may be in for big surprises that can be hard to handle.
  • Buy a house that needs a new roof, major structural work, new HVAC or major kitchen renovation only if you can roll the work into a home improvement loan and, preferably, complete the rehab before you move in. If a house isn’t habitable, it’s really not a bargain!
  • Always pay for a home inspection prior to making an offer. While an independent inspection is not a guarantee that all systems are “go,” it should allow you to plan the next move. The best strategy might be to walk away and look for another well-priced property.
  • Remember that homes are priced under market for a reason. Sometimes the reason has nothing to do with physical problems and everything to do with the seller. Older homes in stable neighborhoods often represent great deals for sellers and buyers alike!

The best way to find a great deal, though, is to work with a professional realtor who is familiar not only with the local market, but who can advise you about real estate trends, financing options and the best ways to realize an appropriate return on your investment.

If you have dreams of becoming the next HGTV phenomenon, take the words of Chip and Joanna to heart: Their book confirms that they worked long hours, faced plenty of discouragement and experienced a fair amount of luck. In fact, as they note, their “overnight success” took many years!

After all, owning your own home, even if it does require some fixing, is still the American Dream!

Unless you are fortunate enough to have cash on hand, one of the most crucial steps before realizing most real estate dreams is to get pre-approved for mortgage financing. Contact your trusted mortgage professional to find out how much of a dream property you can be ready to invest in!

 

 

 

Long-Distance House Hunting Tips

June 8, 2018

Long-Distance House Hunting TipsIt pays to start with a solid strategy when you have to house hunt from afar.

Hunting for a house is stressful enough even if you are moving to another part of town. However, when you are searching for a house from afar, it can make the task of finding the right home for your needs seem almost impossible. 

Fortunately, in today’s high-tech world, you have an array of tools available right at your fingertips that can make it easy to find the perfect house for your needs. So, even if you are looking for a home thousands of miles away, you can do so quickly and with minimal fuss.

Partner With The Right Real Estate Agent 

The first thing that you should do when looking for a house in an area that you are unfamiliar with is to find a local agent. Find someone who has the expertise of the local market and buying process. The information that you garner from choosing a local agent can be invaluable. They know the market intimately.

Additionally, a local agent knows the community as they likely live there as well. They know which schools and neighborhoods are best. They can get to know what you are looking for in an area and help you find the right community for your particular needs. They might also have information on local gems that are not yet showing up on online listings.  

Do Your Research 

After you find a home or two that you are interested in, thoroughly research the area. Search for information about local schools, churches, shopping centers and more. You want to make sure that the neighborhood will meet your needs. Research crime rates in the area.

Also, determine how long your commute from work to home will be each day. Even if you don’t have children, research local school rankings. The rating and quality of local schools is paramount when it comes to the resale value of your home.

Visit In Person 

There is just no amount of research that can substitute for an in-person visit to a potential home. If you are planning to hunt for a house from a distance, be prepared for the travel. Make sure that you have the money and time to visit. It is best to prepare for longer house-hunting trips so that you can take your time when walking through each showing.

Also, make it a point to pay a visit to local restaurants, parks, and businesses to get a feel for the local community. 

Whether you are buying local or at a distance, one of the most important things to do first is to get a pre-approval in order. Contact your trusted mortgage professional today to get the ball rolling.

 

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational Sense

May 30, 2018

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational SenseMulti-generational households and the growing preference on the part of many retirees toward “aging in place”have altered home design in recent years. Interiors are more open, more functional and more adaptable that they were even a decade ago. Spaces tend to be less formal; living space is better integrated with work space like the kitchen, and rooms tend to serve more than once purpose, both for quiet pursuits and for family gatherings.

Universal Design

Home design has gained a new dimension — planning for the future and for a changing lifestyle. Universal design features and amenities that were once off the radar are now very much the focus. Even younger buyers are tuned in to accessibility concerns. Wider doors and hallways, easy to navigate stairs or single-level living, doorless and curbless showers, motion-activated faucets and lighting — these are just a sampling of what may soon become mainstream in American homes.

Add the popularity of home automation and connectivity, and today’s home is uniquely suited for all ages. If you’re thinking of remodeling an existing home, some of these features are well worth the extra cost. Not only do they offer living options, but they also promise great ROI should you wish to sell.

The New Face Of Home

If you are currently looking for a home to buy, view the existing floor plan with an eye toward modifications that would make it more accessible and multi-generation-friendly. Consider the possibility that you might someday share the home with aging parents or with grown children and grandchildren. 

Integrated “apartments”with separate entrances, “granny pods”or separate guest houses, dual master bedrooms, and “au pair”quarters are just some of the ways to offer future flexibility. They are common across the country, but also across price ranges, as sensible and cost-effective alternatives to home health care or retirement housing. 

Renovate For The Future

Renovations that reflect the changing face of family life are always good choices for return on investment in remodeling. Because the traditional family is no longer the norm, any home that offers such options is desirable. If you have questions about what features are important to buyers in a specific market, speak to a real estate professional about trends that go beyond energy savings and sustainability. 

No matter what choices you make about a home update, rely on professional advice and insist on reliable contractors. There is no substitute for quality materials and first-class work. Whether you’re adding space or rearranging it, planning for your future in the home or hoping to appeal to the right buyer, spending a lot or a little, you won’t go wrong with universal design features. Aging is, after all, a reality that we all face sooner or later.

 

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What’s the Difference?

May 24, 2018

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What's the Difference?Is it worth it to add smart appliances or automated features if you’re selling a home? Just how much connectivity do buyers want? And what exactly do the terms refer to in terms of home updates.

Although smart homes and home automation are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to two basically different concepts about how appliances and home systems can operate. Then there is the need for “connectivity,” adding another dimension to any discussion of futuristic home features.

Home Automation

According to a Texas-based Direct Energy blog, home automation has a long history, beginning with the first labor-saving devices that operated with electrical current. “Automatic” washing machines and hot water heaters certainly made life easier at the time, a time long before wireless technology and integrated home entertainment systems.That may be simplistic, but the truth is that any device that operates without human intervention can be termed automatic. 

Today, however, automation commonly refers to home features that are controlled by computer, or that can be set to operate in specific ways: motion-detected lighting, robotic floor cleaners, dishwashers and ovens with delay settings, and the wide range of room monitors, security cameras and voice or motion-controlled devices.

Smart Technology

Computers introduced American homes to smart technology and the Internet of Things. Today, almost every home has several “smart” devices, even if they are simple ones.  

Case in point: A programmable thermostat, common sensor-operated smoke detectors, and a backyard irrigation system with a timer control can be termed smart devices, albeit maybe only “elementary” smart.

Today, most smart technology is also controllable by wireless remote device. But the true definition of smart is any product that incorporates sensors or data storage, microprocessors or controls that allow autonomous operation. An internal operating system is employed to assure that the product operates as programmed, either through user interface or initial setup. Modern smart technology allows for broad integration of devices, in effect creating a “genius” network.

Connectivity

The third piece of the technology puzzle is connectivity. Both home automation and smart technology can be “connected,” for greater flexibility and integration, but it’s not necessary. And, just because homeowners can change a setting via smart phone or battery-operated remote doesn’t necessarily make an automatic appliance or home product smart. 

Connected products interact with one another over a network; the network collects and shares data, and is designed to monitor and allow some degree of control over the functioning of network-connected products or systems. 

For instance, a smart home with sophisticated lighting controls might automatically sense lower light levels at dusk, triggering an adjustment to window shades and turning on both interior and exterior lighting.

Confused? Actually, there’s no real need to be. No matter what you call them, the home features that make living better are all desirable!

Green Technology To Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

May 23, 2018

Green Technology To Reduce Your Home's Carbon FootprintWhen you are a homeowner looking to reduce your carbon footprint, there are a number of steps you can take to make your home earth-friendly. From passive solar heating to solar panels, you can make a difference in the impact your home has on the environment.

Even when you aren’t building a new home, changes can be made to an existing property to increase efficiency and reduce reliance on utility systems.

Invest In Solar Power

Solar panels are one of the most popular ways to reduce your carbon footprint, and with good reason. Solar panels often produce enough electricity so that you have energy to sell back to the energy grid every month. Over time, solar panels on your property can earn you money instead of costing money in utility bills.

Consider Passive Solar Designs

Passive solar is heating your home with the sun by using the right design. For example, certain materials such as slate holds heat. If you have a room that gets plenty of sunlight during the day, a slate floor can help keep the room warmer once the sun sets. If the floor is made from a material that dissipates heat, such as ceramic tile, your home won’t benefit from the sun once it sets.

Radiant Floor Heating Saves On Energy Costs

Heat rises, and those that invest in radiant floor heating find that it is easier to heat up a room. Radiant floor heating uses coils below the surface of your floor, creating heat. The heat rises into the room instead of getting blown in through a heating vent. This reduces the amount of energy you need to heat your home.

Invest In Energy Efficient Appliances

Every appliance that you use in your home has an impact. Consider investing in energy efficient appliances when you are trying to make your home more earth friendly. You will save money on utility costs and help the environment at the same time.

Consider a Clothesline

The energy used to heat your clothes and dry them can be eliminated if you simply hang everything outside to dry. While this adds to your workload, it is a free way to reduce your carbon footprint.

When you have a home, there are a number of ways you can help reduce your impact on the environment. Set up a recycling area in your home, have a vegetable garden if possible, and use electricity only when necessary.

Enjoy your space and don’t be afraid to try new ideas to reduce waste within your home.

Thinking About Buying A Fixer-Upper? Know These Top Resources To Make The Most Profit

May 22, 2018

Thinking About Buying A Fixer-Upper? Know These Top Resources To Make The Most ProfitIf your financial situation is limited, yet you’re handy with a hammer and nails, then purchasing a fixer-upper home can be an attractive option. Fixer-uppers typically require a bevy of updates and repairs to bring the home up to current market conditions.

Because of this, the listing price is often considerably less than a move-in ready home.  Your trusted real estate professional can help you find the best projects to buy and sell.

Getting Started

Fixer-uppers aren’t for everyone, but there are plenty of resources available if you plan to do most of the repair and upgrades yourself. Let’s take a look at a few top resources to tap into if you’re in the market for a fixer-upper or if you’ve already purchased one and you are ready to get started.

  • At Home: A Blog by Joanna Gaines: Chip and Joanna Gaines are well known HGTV personalities who’ve made it their mission to fix up homes. A visit to Joanna Gaines’ blog is a gateway to renovation and decorating tips, products and real-time photos of projects in action. It’s a great place to go for inspiration.
  • Hands-On Workshops: If there’s a Home Depot near your home, chances are you frequent it for many of your hardware needs. There’s another reason you should stop in: Hands-On Workshops. If you want guidance on things like installing bath vanities, tile backsplashes, hanging ceiling fans, or measuring and installing flooring, there’s likely an upcoming workshop at the store that can give you the know-how and confidence necessary to do it yourself.
  • Jeff Patterson’s Home Repair Tutor: This YouTube channel boasts almost 120,000 subscribers and its how-to videos have racked up more than 30.5 million views. Videos include everything from how to tile a shower floor to installing a motion sensor light switch. If you need detailed step-by-step instructions on how to perform a particular job, chances are good this channel has it.
  • The Craftsman Blog: Written by DIY fixer-upper and author Scott Sidler, this blog is packed with how-to advice for home improvement and restoration projects as well as general tips and information about repairs like painting, plastering and restoring windows. This is a blog for a DIY fixer-upper written by a DIY fixer-upper. 
  • Your local hardware store: The big box hardware stores are great for finding just about any sort of tool you’ll need and for hosting how-to workshops. Generally, however, it’s your local, smaller hardware store that can really give you some great one-on-one advice as it pertains to your projects. These stores are typically family owned, and part of the reason they’re able to stay in business is because of their high level of customer service. This often includes guiding you on certain projects.

A fixer-upper can seem like a daunting project when you are getting started. Knowing where to look for the right resources can make a big difference.  Your trusted real estate finance professional is available to assist you and offer additional advice on your new endeavor.

Pet-Friendly Homes: Some Selling Do’s and Dont’s

May 18, 2018

Pet-Friendly Homes: Some Selling Do's and Dont'sNearly 70 million American households include at least one pet, but most prospective buyers won’t want to see evidence of pets in a home on the market.

Here are some tips about how to sell a pet-friendly home.

Prior To Listing

Point out special pet features to your real estate agent — a cat door, feeding station or a pet shower, even a fenced back yard or a dog run can be a bonus to many buyers. It’s important to remember that buyers want to imagine their pets in the home, not yours! Minimize your pet’s presence by decluttering pet supplies as well as your personal items.

While it is best to downplay non-human residents in a home for sale, some pets are more difficult to camoflage or move out of the way. If you have a bird, an aquarium, or large exotic pets, use your best judgment while keeping the “less is more” philosophy in mind.

If there is any pet damage, it should be repaired before you show the home. If necessary, repaint walls, refinish floors, or replace carpeting. Ask a friend or relative (one without a pet) to give your house a sniff test. If there are any odors, do whatever is necessary to eliminate them. It is not likely enough to try to mask the odors with air freshners in order to make the best impression on potential buyers.

Dealing With Showings

Always arrange for animals to be out of the house when a showing is scheduled. If you can’t be there to pick up a pet, trust a neighbor to take the dog for a walk or herd the cat into a carrier and keep it for a few hours. A barking dog in the back yard is annoying, and even the cutest puppy can intimidate a buyer. Cats, too, are notoriously independent, and not all humans are cat-lovers.

Buyers expect even a house with pets to be kept scrupulously clean. Sweep and vacuum up pet hair as often as necessary. Pick up feeding bowls and toys, and remove cat litter boxes prior to a showing. Polish nose prints off glass and put away the scratching pole. Think of pets and pet items the same as you would personal photographs and other memorbillia that clutters your home. Removing those items helps the buyer see themselves in your home and can increase the likelihood of a sale.

It’s also wise to double check with your insurance company to determine your liability in the event that your pet bites or otherwise injures anyone at your property. 

Before And During Moving

Remember that moving is stressful, not only for you, but for your best friend as well. Speak to your veterinarian in advance about possible symptoms of anxiety such as increased accidents, changes in appetite, aggressive behavior or other personality changes that may occur. If you notice any significant signs of anxiety, seek treatment.

If at all possible, take your pet to see your new home prior to your move. If not, continue to look for signs that your pet is feeling disoriented or anxious. Finding a reliable and trustworthy veternarian near your new home beforehand is a good idea in case your pet is struggling. Take extra care that your pet doesn’t try to “escape” back to the familiar and get lost. 

Selling your home and moving into a new home can be exciting, complicated and stressful events. The same can be true for your pets. With a little bit of extra planning, things can go a lot smoother for your entire family. Contact your real estate professional for even more tips for a successful home selling, home buying and relocating experience.

 

Tips For Home Buying In The Digital Age

May 16, 2018

Tips For Home Buying In The Digital Age

The digital age has changed the way buyers browse for and purchase goods and services, including real estate. While home buyers still can check out property listings via a print newspaper or by driving through desired neighborhoods in hopes of finding a “for sale” sign, digital sources offer more options and can make the home buying process easier. 

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) states in their 2017 Report: Real Estate in a Digital Age, that 44-percent of home buyers look online when beginning their search.

Social Media As Sources For Home Buyers

According to the Pew Research Center, 68-percent or two-thirds of U.S. adults use Facebook. In addition to that popular social media site, American adults regularly use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube on a daily basis for entertainment, social engagement, shopping, and news. These sites also can be excellent sources for home buyers.

Home buyers now have instant, easy access to a wide variety of property listings beyond those featured on an individual real estate agency’s website. Many real estate agents post listings on social media with interior/exterior photos and some with virtual tours. Sites like YouTube offer valuable resources particular for first-time home buyers, from tips to how-to’s. 

Real Estate Apps

More than 90-percent of all real estate firms have a website. Visiting these sites are a great starting point and ideal way to connect with an agent that knows the local market. However, home buyers may also consider real estate apps to enhance the process. Even if not tech savvy, these apps are easy to use. 

The most used real estate apps are available for both Android and iOS. Digital Trends offers a breakdown of several of the most popular. Ask a real estate agent if they have one that’s specific to their firm.

These apps can help:

  • Customize a search by location, property type, features, and price
  • Reveal the worth or rental value of a property
  • Show floor plans and exterior/interior photos
  • Provide details about neighborhoods
  • Offer lending institution information
  • Directly connect buyers with a real estate agent

Stay Connected With A Real Estate Professional

Cell phones appear to be everywhere today and research shows that 77-percent of Americans own a smartphone. With that smartphone it’s easier than ever to stay connected with a real estate agent and mortgage professional when buying a home.

An agent can text or email potential listings to the phone, schedule open house meetings, and send updates regarding the offer just made on the perfect home.  A mortgage lender can take a loan application and deliver status updates directly through a secure smartphone app.

Home buyers that can embrace the digital age have the opportunity to take advantage of the multiple platforms and tools available for making a real estate purchase. 

 

How To Turn A Profit Flipping Land Into Residential Property

May 10, 2018

How To Turn A Profit Flipping Land Into Residential PropertyReality TV shows have inspired people to flip houses for profit. They make it look fun, easy and the type of business anyone with some capital can get into.

Every once in a while, house-flipping episodes show an underperforming sale and a financial loss. That is why people in the flipping business need a cushion in case things don’t pan out.

This brings us to a slightly different approach. Some speculators start out flipping land. Yes, that’s right. Land.

Flipping Land Can Be Less Risky Than Homes

Rough land can be far less expensive to invest in than blighted homes. There are also fewer unknowns in terms of flipping. Investors won’t need to worry about replacing an electric box, mold behind walls or failing a building inspection. Land flippers can also start with a modest out-of-pocket investment and work their way up to short-term lending to finance endeavors.

The Basic Considerations

There are a few things to keep in mind when selecting a parcel. Property that abuts a street with sewer and water are preferable to scrub land in areas without services. It is not uncommon to run into difficulty drilling an artesian well or getting a permit for a septic system. Developers know this and will jump at street-ready parcels first.

Make certain the parcel qualifies as a buildable lot with the town or city. Then, hire an excavation team or clear the brush and trees yourself. The goal will be to create an open area where a home can be built while leaving suitable greenery.

The next step is to call a real estate agent and list the property. Quick land turnovers can earn several thousand dollars in profit with minimal effort. Remember to factor in hidden costs such as taxes, interest, and recording fees, among others.   

Upping The Ante To Spec Homes

After gaining experience in the land flipping business, take that knowledge and apply it to homes. Rather than scoop up a dilapidated structure, employ that land development acumen and take the next step.

Select a parcel that is in a prime residential location. What a surprise it would be to find a wooded lot at the end of a desirable neighborhood that can be developed.

Create A Budget and Obtain Financing

Work closely with a real estate agent to understand the types of homes that are trending and the average sale prices. With that information in hand, come to an agreement with a general contractor who can oversee the spec house project.

Decide on a design and calculate the total costs. Don’t forget to add 15 percent for overruns. Contact your loan originator to help you secure a building loan and put the team to work.

Get The Listing On The Market

Spec home projects can be listed with real estate agents even before the first nail is driven into a 2X4. A savvy real estate agent can get a property up online with design information, an artful rendition of the finished home and key selling points. In a perfect world, a new home buyer may be found before construction begins.

It’s important to realize that it doesn’t require significant wealth to get into the home buying and selling industry. By starting with modest, low-risk land deals and working up to spec homes, a solid living can be earned in the real estate industry. If this idea intrigues you, contact your trusted mortgage professional to discuss financing options and start planning your new real estate endeavor today.