Weekly Real Estate

Welcome to our weekly blog, dedicated to the wild world of real estate! We've had many different adventures with our clients as we've helped them to achieve their real estate goals. Without a doubt, we've encountered some unique situations! We hope you enjoy our posts and that you will share your experiences with us, too.

 

Oct. 3, 2019

What is an open house?

What’s an open house about anyway? Generally, when you're going to an open house, the seller is not going to be there. You have an opportunity to view the property at your own leisure, and it gives you a little bit more time to look at the property more thoroughly. There are a few things you may want to aware of when viewing properties. Some of the things we're seeing currently with today's technology are that sellers are putting in audio or video in their home to be able to record what is happening in their home while they're not there. Sometimes this is to protect belongings, sometimes they just want to know what's going on. Most importantly, as the buyer, you need to be aware and know of this.

 

Sometimes your comments, things that you may say about the home or the decor can ultimately go back to the seller and may not have a positive opinion with them when it comes down to writing your offer. So, when you're out doing an open house, always be respectful of the home and keep in mind that you may be on audio. Therefore, you can always talk about these things once you leave the property and freely talk amongst yourselves.

 

When you sell your home there are also a few things to consider with an open house. A few things you can do for your open house with your agent are to remove a lot of your personal belongings that may not necessarily be the best idea to leave out for everyone. Make sure you're putting away any jewelry, firearms, medications, etc to make sure that it's safe for people to view your home. So, make sure that when you're preparing your house for the open house, put those belongings away in a more secure spot or even better if you're able to just remove them from the property altogether.

The last piece of advice you also want to consider is this will be the first impression for home buyers. You'll have a little bit of time to prepare for that open house so really make your home stand out. Make sure you do that last cleaning before you leave the property for your agent to hold the open house, just so that your home really shows its best. There's nothing worse than when you walk into an open house and you can tell that they left in a hurry and nothing has really been prepared. Whereas, if you walk in and everything is neat, orderly and looks nice, it really makes a significant difference to a buyer and gives a better opportunity to sell your home.

 

 So, if you are looking to go visit an open house or you're going to be holding an open house that your property, make sure you take these tips into mind.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Sept. 25, 2019

Your Zestimate

When we talk about real estate, one platform that commonly comes to mind is the online real estate company called Zillow. Zillow has been a leading real estate and rental marketplace for millions of renters, home buyers, and sellers. However, an online company that gives out estimate prices of a physical property might turn out not as reliable as an estimate given by a professional.

“How much is your home worth on Zillow?” I get this question a lot. Well, Zillow says my home is worth this much. It's often tough to work with Zillow because they actually have in their own Zillow disclosures that their estimates are off. I’ve had seen some within a realistic ballpark but typically the will say it is a little bit higher or sometimes lower. We do see them off, quite a bit even from home to home when they are right next to each other with no significant differences. The main issue is nobody from Zillow is coming out and viewing your home, seeing the upgrades and the condition it's in and any differed maintenance. Those items plus many more can have a significant impact on the value of a home. Therefore, when you're looking at Zillow's estimate, it's really not that accurate for your home is actually worth. On the other side, we often have clients who want to make an offer on a home, they say that it's listed at this price and then Zillow has it at another price. The only thing is that it is still going to be off unfortunately and as a seller you want to get the most amount of funds you can and as a buyer you want to not overpay for a home.

What you really want to do is either rely on either real estate agent or appraisal to be able to put together an analysis of recent home sales in that specific area. They'll give you a better idea of what the homes are worth in that direct area depending on the condition and upgrades that the homes have completed and they will give you a better idea of the overall price range.

If you're looking at doing a Zillow's estimate, if you're looking at using that as a list price for your home or thinking about using that for the price that you'll use to purchase a home, you should speak with a real estate agent first to ensure you are not leaving more on the table when selling or overpaying for a home when buying. We will help you get to us in the right direction and give you a much more accurate idea. If you do have questions, make sure you reach out to me I'd be happy to give you a better idea on some of the values in the area.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Sept. 11, 2019

What's an EMD (Earnest Money Deposit)

What is the earnest money deposit anyway? It is the good faith deposit that you'll submit typically within three business days of an offer being accepted on a home. Typically this deposit is roughly 1% of the purchase price, sometimes a little bit lower, sometimes a bit higher depending on the individual situation. Generally speaking, the higher we make it, the more aggressive we're trying to be with our offer and it helps really stand out to the seller in general. Now, what happens with those earnest money deposit funds though? It's an important thought.

 

The point of having a deposit when we submit an offer is to safeguard the process of bidding and the time and resources spent during the process by all. If this is not done, any bidder will withdraw at any stage and the offer process would be taken much less seriously. With no such financial guarantee, the home buyer would not take the bidding process seriously in terms of time, process, offer and conditions. After the offer process is over and the contract is finalized, the home buyer also has to start working at their time frames noted in the contract. In short, an EMD is one type of guarantee that once the home buyer enters the offer process and the owner accepts the offer, the home buyer can neither withdraw nor change any terms of the contract of the bid and has to perform per the contract terms unless all parties agree.

 

Once the offer is finalized, escrow is opened and the funds are held by escrow. Escrow is a neutral third party. They do not work for the seller nor the buyer, they work for both. If anything were to change with the contract or anything changed with the finances, they need to have mutual instructions from both parties before they release any funds or make any changes. While they hold your deposit funds, we continue through the escrow period. If we end up canceling on the transaction and not proceeding with that home, then the deposit is actually returned back too you shortly after cancellation assigned.

Should we proceed forward with that home, let's say we put down a $5,000 deposit. You'll be required to come up with $5,000 less of your total out-of-pocket cost to purchase the home once we close. Let’s say you owe $40,000 for the out of pocket costs, you’d now bring in $35,000. All your final costs are going to be at the end. This is when you need to bring in the final funds for the home and at that time your deposit amount will be reduced from those.

 

If you do have questions, if you are looking to submit an offer, make sure you reach out and be happy to point in the right direction on how to best handle the deposit portion.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Aug. 24, 2019

When Is The Right Time To Buy A Home?

Buying a home requires a lot of time and attention because it is a major financial commitment in which you have to consider some factors before rushing into the property market. When is the right time to buy a house? Is it now? Six months from now? A year? Five years? Has the time already passed? I'll be honest with you, there's no real “best time” to buy or sell a home. Right now we're seeing the interest rates increasing for home loans and your overall loan environment has been changing in terms of the loan programs, interest rates as I mentioned, different guidelines, and the home values have also been increasing.

However, if we do see the prices decrease, which sounds better to a buyer, then your monthly payment will likely increase due to the interest rate still increasing, meaning your monthly payment will actually still be higher. Sometimes you're not really getting a whole lot of bang for your buck in that regard, you may be paying less for the home but you're still paying about the same in the long run for the home.

When you're looking at home prices and waiting for them to come down, is it always the best strategy to also watch the interest rates and loan programs available. When is the best time to buy a home? The time is typically right when it makes financial sense. If you're renting right now and the rent has just gotten too high, then it may be time to purchase a home. If the monthly payments of purchasing a home are less expensive than that of renting, buying a home will make a lot more sense. However, if you have a rental that has a lower rent amount and it’s below market value, then it may not make sense to purchase a home.

When you're also looking at selling your home, it may be more beneficial to try to wait for the peak of the market so you can get the most money you can on your home, which makes sense to most people. However, if you have to purchase a home at the same time as you’re selling one, the market is still going to be a bit challenging since you are balancing both. You are still going to have different interest rates and different loan programs for you use compared to when you first bought your home.

Many factors create a different environment overall in the real estate market which makes it tougher to say: "This is the best time to sell" or "That will be the best time to buy." If you're thinking about when is the best opportunity to buy or sell a home, you should really consider time--the time that makes the most sense to you, to the loan programs available to you, and ultimately to your goals.

If you do have questions if you're trying to decide where you are, where the markets are at, or what programs you can available, make sure you reach out. I'll be happy to help out and will give you a little bit more direction!

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
Aug. 10, 2019

How Many People

Generally speaking, when we think of buying a home, we often think of just a few people that we may talk to or work with. A few days ago, I was talking with a client and we were discussing how many people are actually involved in the real estate transaction as a whole, starting from the beginning until the end—everything from the buying side to the selling side, from the time that we start the process and the time that you get the keys.

A real estate transaction is actually quite a lengthy process to have only a few people involved in it. You can expect there will be several people included in it.. Actually, there are going to be, on average, 21 people through the entire escrow process that may only last thirty days or so. These individuals can include the buyer or seller themselves, the real estate agents, a loan officer, an insurance agent, the appraiser, inspectors, escrow companies and much more depending on the situation and type of transaction. It is pretty crazy to think there's going to be that many people involved but there really will be that many, even when you are not speaking with them all directly or at the same time.

Each of these professionals plays a different and important role in a real estate transaction and have different skills and expertise that are needed to ensure that the buying and selling transaction goes smoothly, on time, and staying within our contractual agreement. Whether you’re planning to sell or buy a property, it’s a must to be familiar with some of the people who may work directly with you or behind the scenes because each person has an important role in the transaction in order for it to be successful.

Being informed about how these professionals can help you is useful whether you are buying or selling a property. Keep in mind though that even when working with these professionals, you are still the decision-maker in your real estate transaction. These professionals are not there to make decisions for you but rather to provide you information and advice that will help you make educated decisions which will result in a more fruitful, stress-free, and satisfying real estate transaction for you.

Real estate transactions can become stressful processes that require full cooperation and due diligence from all individuals involved in the transaction to bring a successful closing. If you want to learn a little bit more about what the process is like to purchase a home and who those people are that are involved I'd be happy to help out feel free make a call and talk this out thank you.

 

 

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
July 20, 2019

Planning Your Picnic

 

What are you waiting for? That is my question for a lot of people who are waiting to purchase a home. Many folks want to ask “What is happening in 5 or 6 months?”, “What is happening in the year down the road?” “What is happening 5 years down the road?”

Really the main thing to consider is: what is happening right now! What we are seeing in the market currently can be a lot different than what we are seeing down the road and we have no way of predicting what the market will do in the future. A lot of people who are waiting to purchase a home or waiting to sell their home may not see home values at the same they are seeing them now. We may not see interest rates at the same rate or the flexibility in home loans programs that we are seeing now. There are going to be regulation changes that affect how much you can actually borrow in purchasing a home which we are already seeing that change. So if you do decide to wait, it oftentimes can increase your monthly payment and it will reduce how much of a home you are qualified to buy.

I had a client recently who is looking around the $400,000 price range that had their monthly payment increased by $250 over the past 6 months from just the increasing of interest rates, nothing else.

So if you are looking to buy but want to wait or you thinking about selling and you want to wait, the main thing you need to consider is, “It is great to wait but what is the future going to be like?” You can choose to have your picnic and wait to buy a home or wait to sell your home but you cannot choose the weather, or the environment it is going to be in with home loans, rates or home values. Whether it is going to be a rainy day and the market is not going to be so great or there is going to be a sun on the market and we will do fantastic, we truly never know. There are some good things that really need consideration when you are on the fence and if you really don’t have a reason to not wait, you really need to look at what the future will hold.

There are several factors and strategies that need to be well thought out when buying a home or selling your house. We do have interest rates increasing, that is going to increase your monthly payment as well as reducing how much you are able to purchase, which will have an effect on the type of home and quality of life that you want to have in that regard. Aside from the interest rates, we also have to tackle the pros and cons of buying or selling a home, the right home loans and timing. If you do have questions and would like to better understand the interest rates and programs, feel free to reach out and we can make sure you are making a smart move!

 

 

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
July 6, 2019

Which Loan Type Is The Best Fit For You?

        

Are you looking to buy a home? When you begin the process and learn about different types of properties and loan options, you'll probably find that there a few different types of real estate mortgage loans available for you.

We will discuss types of loans and things to be aware of when it comes to your home search. Your final decision the type of mortgage you get will depend on your financials and the property you are buying.

FHA Loans:

The Federal Housing Administration, a government agency in the Department of Housing and Urban Development is responsible for FHA mortgages. With the FHA loans, borrowers pay for mortgage insurance built into their monthly payments and this will increase your monthly payment without a huge benefit to the borrower.

These loans are convenient because they involve smaller down payments of 3.5% of the homes price. Also, the lending standard is friendlier compared with other loans with looser requirements to qualify for the loan.

When searching for a home, if you will be getting an FHA mortgage, you will want to look for homes that are more move in ready and do not have a lot of major issues. In my experience, I most commonly see what heaters not being strapped to the wall, exposed electrical wiring and cracked/broken windows have been the main items I’ve seen these items can prevent an FHA loan from closing.

        

Conventional Loans:

Conventional loans are loans that are insured by the federal government and are one of the more common loan types that we see clients use. While these loans do require a higher credit score, they typically allow for lower down payment options starting at 3% of the homes price and go up. 

One benefit is that the loans are less restrictive with the home in regards to the overall condition. This will allow you to make offers on properties that need work and not have the concern of the loan being able to close.

VA Loans:

These loans are for individuals who have served our country and offer a few benefits that make these loans stand out. With the VA loans, they will have a no down payment option or low down payment if you prefer so you have less out of pocket expenses. They will also not have mortgage insurance like an FHA loan, this will decrease your overall monthly payment to make things still affordable. 

One drawback that we do see with these loans is the restrictions regarding the properties condition. They require that the home is in move in condition and will not allow structural issues with the home.

        

USDA Loans:

USDA loans are designed for rural homebuyers and are meant for folks that are living further out in the country compared to being closer in town. 

Getting a home is a great feeling, but considering the financial side of things is very important. When choosing a mortgage, make sure you select one that is a good fit for you and your financial future. Each loan has different benefits and drawbacks to consider but understanding these will help you make a better decision. If you have questions regarding your options, make sure to reach out!

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
June 22, 2019

What Are The Essential Features You Need In A New Home?

        

When buying a home, it’s important to know what are the essentials for you. One of the best things that you can do is create a list of basic features and amenities that you need in your dream home. As a real estate agent, I can help you out in scouting for such a home with your desired features, the more specific you are, the better it helps in the searches.

We will discuss the essential features you should consider when you are selecting home. Each of these features should be ranked by you based on their importance and your requirements.

Location:

The location is an essential feature to consider when you are hunting for a home because it’s the main thing you can’t change. You should search for a home close to your work, school, parks, shopping, public transportation, place of worship, family, or any other places you visit the most.

Having your home located in the right place is a massive advantage for you when it comes to the resale value. An excellent location will always be a great asset, no matter what how bad the real estate market is. As they say “location, location, location”

Neighbourhood:

You can’t control the character of your neighbours, and you may find a home located in the right place with a lot of features but before buying the home, make sure to observe the environment in early in the morning and at night to find out how the people living. Observe the character of the the neighborhood, see if the neighbours keep their home in a way that would make you comfortable and make on the recent crime activity reported in such society.

Position of the lot:

 

A home that is on a corner may have traffic that stops or turns by your home but may allow access to the backyard for additional storage. Homes that are on a cul de sac will have a smaller front yard but a large pie lot in the back. Make sure you are looking at homes that suit you the best.

       

The bedrooms:

When looking at homes you’ll want to decide whether you will spend more time outdoors, in the main living areas or in the bedrooms. It’s also important to know if a den or separate living and family rooms are important. Often times the bedrooms can either be side very large or on the smaller side depending on how much furniture you have so you’ll want to observe the room sizes when viewing homes. 

Kitchen

The kitchen is an important thing to look out for when buying a home because it is the heart of the home and a place where food is planned for the family. You have to check if the kitchen has enough space to put your refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher. Do not buy a home with a kitchen that is not up to your taste. It can be expensive to remodel or replace countertops, cabinets, and sink.

The bathroom:

Before purchasing a home determine how many bathrooms you need. Commonly older homes have one or two bathrooms and newer homes often have two or more bathrooms. Do you a bathroom with a shower, bath or jacuzzi. It’s important to look at those items when viewing homes or see if it would be a good set up to install one.

The age of the home:

When choosing a home that meets your needs, age is an essential factor you must give a significant consideration because the older home needs, more upgrade, and repairs it may need in the near future. 

Purchase price:

 

Home buying is a huge investment, you’ll want to ensure that your monthly payment and the overall mortgage is within your budget. Often times clients want to extend their budgets but you’ll want to ensure you are comfortable with the payments over the long term.

                          

 

Maintenance: 

Buying an older home may require that you repair or replace some items in the house. Doing so will add to your overall costs for the home though. Ensuring a home has been well maintained by the previous homeowner and doing proper inspections, you’ll have a much better chance at keeping your maintenance costs going forward, much lower.

HOA dues, taxes and fees:

If you buy a home in a community with a homeowner association, you should also consider budgeting for the monthly or annual fee and dues collected. If a property is in a newer community it may have additional taxes that will increase your monthly payment. These will also affect your mortgage approval and purchasing power. 

Whenever you are searching for your dream home, you have to devote time and effort to look for a home that’s a good fit for you and your family. You may also seek the knowledge and help of real estate agent to guide you through your search. When you are ready to start your home search, we are happy to help!

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
June 4, 2019

Credit report information, what it entails?

 

         

A lot of us have had the question come up, “What’s your credit score?”. Well what exactly is a credit report anyway? A credit report is a detailed record of individual credit history prepared by a credit bureau that includes information about you including your identity, your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and probably your employment information. It also gives information about court judgment against you, it indicates any bankruptcy filed for you or by you and any tax lien against you. It gives well-detailed information about your outstanding debt, such as a mortgage, student loan, car loans. One item it also show are credit inquiries which is a list of individuals and companies that requested a copy of your credit report.

But why is a credit report that important anyway?

Generally speaking your mortgage lenders, insurers, banks, and sometimes employers obtain your credit report to know how you meet your financial responsibilities. For instance, your lender uses your history to determine whether you are qualified for a mortgage or not, and your lender can as well use the account to assess your loan pricing and know if you’ll be able to meet your mortgage fee.

With the credit report, credit bureaus gather and keep your credit information that is in your report. There are three credit bureaus that we look at – Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These credit bureaus provide your credit information as a report and credit bureaus also get your credit information from your creditors such as credit card issuer, lender, and bank. Public records are another source where credit bureaus gather their information about court and property record.

Most people also do not realize that you are entitled to a free credit report every year from each of the credit bureaus like Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can do this by contacting (877)322-8228 or by visiting the website www.annualcreditreport.com. By using either of these methods, you will be requested to give certain information to access the report. A credit report generated from one of the bureaus may not adequate; hence, you may need to apply for your credit from the three bureaus at a time. 

With the actual credit scores themselves, the rating companies grades for your credit report helps your lender to predict how likely you are to repay your loan and make payment at due time. The lender uses your credit score to determine whether to grant you and the rate you will pay the mortgage. The score is calculated by the total amount of your outstanding debt, whether you settle your bills on time, whether there is any collection action against you, the type and number of the account you operate (mortgage, student loans, credit cards) and your account age.

        

What can change my credit score?

Your credit score is calculated based on your credit report. A change to your credit report will bring change to your credit score. For example, if you pay less on your outstanding debt or pay your utility bills late, your credit score goes down. However, if you settle your utility bills on time, and make a sizeable down payment on your mortgage, pay your outstanding debt or correct errors on your credit report, your credit score will increase.

How can I build a good credit score?

When building your credit score, you should consider the following

Establish a credit report

For you to create a good credit report, you must have an active credit account. Go to your bank or credit union to get your first credit account or activate your account.

Adhere strictly to the presented payment terms and conditions

Make sure you make a minimum payment due on time. A payment that does not meet up to the minimum contractual amount could harm your credit report or credit score.

Keep your balances low

Keeping a low balance as compared to your available loan limit gives proper finance management. It shows clearly enough that you are financially responsible and shows your lender that you are likely to repay the loan. A key component to credit score is your utilization rate that is your balance to limit ratio.

Apply for credit wisely

Do not apply for multiple credits in a short time and be sure to be truthful with applying.

Show good credit habits over a long period.

Demonstrate a good credit management habit over a long period to help achieve a good credit score by paying your credit cards regularly.

       

Why is proper credit management critical?

Having good credit plays a crucial role in your financial life. It does not only makes you qualify for a loan or credit but can also secure you a job. Proper credit management will make you eligible for lower interest rates and fees. It can also increase your savings, which can be set aside to meet emergencies and smaller unexpected expenses.

 Getting yourself a good credit score is not hard. Follow the five principles on which you can build your credit score discussed in this blog. Try as much as possible based on your capacity to reduce your credit applications over a short period. Getting a good credit report does not only assist your lender in deciding whether to grant you a loan or not but can also increase the possibility of you securing employment.

Posted in Weekly Real Estate
May 21, 2019

How To Make Homeownership Affordable

          

A new home is a dream place for many people. Many of us want to have a house we can call our own, but it's unfortunate to say that not everybody can achieve this dream. Just like the adage, "all fingers are not equal", it also applies to this scenario of owning a home. It is important to note that in discussing topics like this, many points come to one's thought. None can be taken as irrelevant, but we have to take points we feel more relevant to us and what applies best. To make homeownership more affordable:

                   

Consider your budget when determining the kind of home you want

The size of your budget goes a long way in determining the type of home one can buy, putting in mind that the bigger the house, the higher the cost. From the information obtained when viewing different homes, a clear picture of how we want our home to look would have been formed. Ask yourself some questions, what kind of home are you aiming for? Is it a place that will accommodate only you and your immediate family or a place that can accommodate lots of people often? Are we looking at a bungalow, duplex, mansion, semi-detached house or a condo? Making use of low aesthetics helps in cost reduction while considering the budget. Why not go for ordinary flooring instead of being adamant on making use of tiles?

Get a right real estate agent with lots of experience

An experienced real estate agent is essential in your goal towards having a home of our own. They must be reasonable and be good listeners. Talking with a few agents and choosing the one that suits you best is truly the way to go. After making a decision on which to go with, ensure that they understand your budget and why you may need certain accommodations. Many first time home buyers also do not understand that the agent you are working with, can either make your home buying process very smooth or can make it a tough situation at every turn. Make sure you feel confident in the agent you hire!

 

Partake in work yourself:

                

Nobody is at all a jack of all trades, but the willingness to do some of the work saves a lot of money that would have been spent on hiring professionals. There are little things that could be done ourselves, but the main thing is knowing the skill, having the knowledge of how to do that kind of work. Doing the job without having an idea about the expertise or knowing how to do such a task could only cost us more and would jeopardize our aim of saving money. When doing such work, it must be to the best standard that will be required from a hired professional.

Preserve some materials for reuse:

Preserving materials entails keeping materials that were previously used in the home. Some materials might be needed later on during other construction works as well. Construction works create material wastes that can be beneficial in other areas. Do whatever you can within your capacity to make sure you get these materials. Do not allow any contractor mislead you into discarding any of these materials if they can be salvaged. If those materials cannot be kept, it can be sold. Sell them and make use of the money in buying other things needed.

In conclusion, homeownership can be quite affordable. Being a conserver is a great way to save money and also reuse materials. When constructing your home, it's fine to be a conserver but does not always need to go to an extreme. Everybody wants to enjoy the comfort of living in a house of their own, but if one does not live within one's budget, has it really been achieved?

Posted in Weekly Real Estate