Goal-Setting: When The Goal is Buying a Home

Goal-Setting: When The Goal is Buying a Home

Saving for a down payment can seem like an overwhelming task if you’re on a tight budget. It’s just plain not easy to make a plan, stay on that plan no matter what, stay motivated even when your plan goes temporarily awry, and – finally – achieve your desired result. So how do you get from “Broke wannabe homebuyer” to “Gimme those keys!”? It’s simple. Just set a goal.

“The idea of goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T) goals,” said Wikipedia. “On a personal level, setting goals helps people work towards their own objectives.”

So how does that relate to your down payment? It’s no different than setting a goal to lose weight or get a college degree or excel at your job. They all take determination. But when it comes to buying a home and getting together the money required, there are tricks and tips you can use to make it easier and make that goal achievable.

1. Make a plan and write it down

Get out a piece of paper or type into your phone/computer a definitive statement that encapsulates your down payment goal – as long as it’s in a place you can easily access it. Then break down that goal by the amount you need to save weekly or monthly and a goal date for being able to buy that house. The simple act of putting your plan down on paper (or on screen) makes it real. Take out the piece of paper or pull up the email you wrote to yourself whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Huffington Post recommends writing goals down in a brand-new notebook or keeping them “in Evernote (download on your desktop and the app for your phone and tablet) so that you can reference them weekly.”

2. Make some budget cuts

It may not be easy. But saving for something as important as a new home is worth it. Look over your monthly bank statements for areas to cut back. Take out any set monthly expenses—rent or existing house payment, car payment, and anything else that can’t change.

Then look at car insurance, health insurance, and anything else that could change if you made changes to your coverage.

Then consider things like cell phone bills, cable, internet service. If you’re not using all your data on your cell phone plan, that may be a place to trim. Perhaps you don’t need such fast DSL service. Every little bit helps.

And here’s one that really hurts: cutting out your daily Starbucks latte. I know. We’re crying with you.

Can’t go cold turkey? Cut back from five lattes a week to two. You just saved over $500 in a year.

3. Let someone else make some cuts

If you’ve gone through your budget carefully and don’t see any (or many) easy places to cut, let a best friend or close family member take a look at your budget. They might see some things you don’t, or might be able to ask some hard questions you aren’t willing to ask yourself (maybe you don’t need EVERY SINGLE MOVIE CHANNEL DISH OFFERS?!).

Cutting back on your cable or satellite TV doesn’t seem like much. But paying $30 less per month less could save you $360 in a year. And you can always go to their house to watch Game of Thrones while you’re in savings mode.

4. Know how to bounce back

So you went out to lunch with a friend and the next thing you know, you’re at the mall dropping a couple hundred dollars on clothes. Or you went to the sporting goods store to buy a gift and walked out with $200 in non-returnable camping equipment.

Oops.

Go ahead and feel the pain of the buyer’s remorse. Slap yourself on the hand. And then tell your bad-influence friend they aren’t allowed to come around again until you’re a homeowner. After all, you need somewhere to place the blame. And now you can move on and get back on your plan.

5. Look for ways to make extra money

Do you have skills you could use to bring in a few bucks? Perhaps you can put your Spanish fluency to good use and tutor high school kids. Maybe you can take that piece of furniture you refinished and turn it into a weekend business, hitting early-morning garage sales on weekends and selling your pieces on Craigslist.

6. Cook your dinner

Eat out five nights a week now? Cut back to two. If you’re not a fan of cooking, sub in easy-to-make or already-made meals on the other three nights. Grab a roasted chicken from the supermarket plus a bagged salad, or a ready-to-nuke meal from a specialty market like Trader Joe’s or Costco.

7. Not ready to give up your restaurant habit?

Those coupon packs that come in the mail actually have some useful stuff inside, including restaurant discounts. If you can save 20 percent off your bill a couple times a week, you won’t feel so guilty for dining out.

Another great way to save when eating out is by timing it to nights when restaurants have specials, like kids’ eat free nights. Googling “kids eat free” should yield list of participating restaurants in your area.

8. Don’t become a hermit

Cutting back doesn’t have to mean locking yourself in your house, never using any gas, never going to any movies or seeing your friends socially.

But make sure your friends and family know about your plan so they can support you while you’re saving. And you can involve them in your plan by enlisting their help to plan fun and free (or cheap) get-togethers.

9. Channel Stuart Smiley

You don’t have to stand in the mirror and repeat “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me” over and over (but it would be hilarious if you did). By simply staying positive, you can keep on keeping on. If you believe at all in the power of positive thinking, this is the time to act on it. And if you don’t, fake it!

10. Keep your eye on the prize

When everyone runs off to the Caribbean for their summer vacation, you’re probably going to want to chuck it all. But remember that the Caribbean isn’t going anywhere. You can luxuriate on an island with turquoise water lapping at your feet while you drink something frothy out of a pineapple next year – after you’ve closed escrow.

And it’ll taste so much better with the jangle of a new set of house keys in your pocket.


Source: Goal-Setting: When The Goal is Buying a Home

Because It's Ugly, and 3 Other Big Reasons Your Home Isn't Selling

Because It's Ugly, and 3 Other Big Reasons Your Home Isn't Selling

Ever wonder why some homes sell and others don’t? There is no magical fairy dust that can turn a loser of a house into a palace. And, in fact, if there were such a think as magical fairy dust, sprinkling it in your home would make a big mess, and that’s a big no-no if you want to sell.

Getting your home sold is not all that hard if you stick to the basics. But if you’ve got some of the problems below, you may just be sitting on that unsellable home for a while.

Problem No. 1: Because your home is ugly

Yes, your home is ugly. If your Realtor didn’t tell you that, let us go ahead and say what he should have. And just so we’re clear, “ugly” can also stand in for:

• Cluttered
• Outdated
• Dirty
• Messy
• Tacky

Very few people – investors looking for a deal aside – can walk into an untidy mess of a house and see the potential. If you’re not willing to clean it up, clean it out, and maybe make a few overdue updates, you may not get it sold. That goes double for over-personalization that is so in your face buyers can’t see past it.

“Everybody’s taste is different, so less is more when it comes to decor at sale time. Loud patterns and bold colors can be big distractions,” said MSN.

Solution:

You need to de-ugly-fy that house but quick. Pretty places around you are selling. If you have similar plans, similar features, similar lots and they’re selling while you’re sitting, it’s not hard to figure out why.

Take a good long look. If you don’t see anything wrong, bring in a few friends for their opinions. But only the ones who might actually tell you the truth.

Problem No. 2. Because your price is unrealistic

This is the No. 1 most common problem with homes that are not selling, says MSN. “If you’re guilty of having “a ‘what the heck are they thinking?’ price tag,” they say, you can expect to sit on the market for a while.

“Price is usually the overriding factor in any home that doesn’t sell. Whatever its problem, it can usually be rectified by adjusting the price.”

Adds U.S. News: “Without question, the No. 1 reason a home doesn’t sell is price. Sellers have an emotional attachment to their homes and tend not to be objective about the true value.”

Solution:

If it is an emotional attachment that’s getting in the way, take the emotion out of the equation and think of it simply as a business transaction. Many times the issue is a seller owes more than the home is worth or simply wants a higher price. But it’s the market that sets the price. And if it’s telling you your price is too high, it’s probably best to listen.

When all else fails, listen to your agent, who should have provided you with comparables that spell out recent sales and market trends. (Also See: It’s The Price That Sells a Home)

Problem No. 3: Because it’s a ‘project’ house

Maybe you’ve made the decision to sell and you just don’t want to put any money into a house that’s no longer going to be yours. But a house that looks like it’s going to take too much work – or too much money – to fix up is a turnoff.

“If a home looks as if it’s going to cost half as much to repair or renovate as it does to purchase, it’s going to take a long time to move,” said MSN. “Today’s buyer is a lot more reluctant to take on a ‘project,’ especially if there are houses around it that don’t need as much work. Ditto for homes that have strong pet or mold smells.”

The Solution:

“Fix it, or prepare to lop a large amount off the price,” said MSN.

Problem No. 4: Because you’re not cooperating

This is also the No. 1 reason houses end up overpriced. Uncooperative sellers also tend to ignore other advice from their agent, about keeping the home tidy (see No. 1), being available when needed, being open to price reductions, being able to make the house available for open houses, and agreeing to terms when there is a contract discussion.

“No offense, but maybe you aren’t showing your house off enough? If you aren’t using a real estate agent and work away from your home, your time might be limited, of course. But you should try to make your house as accessible and available as possible for a Realtor and a potential homebuyer to easily drop by and take a tour (which means having the place clean, too),” said U.S. News. “Having your home be shown only by appointment or only at designated times will severely cut down on the number of showings you get, and if the house isn’t getting shown, it isn’t going to get sold.”

The Solution:

Get in or get out. Or get in to get out. You have to commit yourself to a process that, quite frankly, can be inconvenient and a hassle in order to get your home sold, especially in more competitive markets. Being agreeable and available, however painful, for this finite amount of time, will pay off in the end.


Source: Because It's Ugly, and 3 Other Big Reasons Your Home Isn't Selling

What You Don’t Know About Real Estate Could Cost You

What You Don’t Know About Real Estate Could Cost You

What you don’t know about real estate, real estate professionals do. PJ Wade identifies significant knowledge gaps for buyers and sellers and reveals how professionals fill those gaps—when asked.

It’s what you don’t know about real estate that could cost you when buying or selling.

• First-time buyers usually haven’t seen enough houses or condominium units to fully understand where real estate value lies.

They may not have been caretaker of a house and, therefore, don’t notice subtle signs of damage, sloppy construction, poor maintenance, or worn-out elements. Those who have visited friends’ houses will rarely have toured the properties with an eye to determining value. First-time-buyer naivety is often preyed on with the latest buzz words, staging, hot shiny appliances, and a coat of fresh paint.

• First-time-in-a-longtime buyers may not realize that they are out of touch with advances in materials, modern design approaches, or evolving lifestyle essentials.

This can lead them to under- or over-value new houses or condominium units. For example, quartz kitchen counters have gained popularity over marble and granite for several reasons. Open-concept design is preferred by those with small children or those who live to entertain, but not by those who are untidy, relish quiet spaces, or are energy conscious. Residential elevators are increasingly common features in multi-story and age-in-place homes, but they may seem out of place to those not in touch with housing trends. Misevaluation of factors like these may mean missed real estate opportunity.

• First-time sellers who base resale value on their total cost of acquiring and maintaining real estate ownership, plus expected profit, have missed the point.

Emotions, including pride of ownership, can get in the way and prove expensive. Sellers may believe that their cost of buying and transforming the property into their home, plus money spent on maintenance and upgrades, plus profit and the cost of selling, including commission, add up to their actual “bottom line” for resale value. Problems arise for sellers when this must-have sale price is not in line with market value, which is value determined by the real estate market – current buyers and previous sales. When the seller expects more than market value, this “over-priced listing” may take longer to sell, may eventually sell for less, or may fail to find a buyer. First-time sellers may lack experience evaluating how their property compares with local property values and appraising their property from the perspective of current active buyers.

Value determination and marketing – or communicating action-enticing value to potential buyers – represent two different professional real estate selling-skill sets, neither of which are usually possessed by sellers.

• Empty-nester and downsizing sellers may decide, in theory, that smaller and cheaper are the characteristics they desire in their next property, but some discover it’s a different story in practice.

When faced with the actual move to a smaller house in a cheaper location, they may find the mental leap too great. Downsizing is often wrongly considered merely moving into a smaller property. In reality, this less-space move usually involves adopting a different lifestyle, living in a different neighborhood, adjusting to different status, dealing with different interior finishes, and the list can go on.

Many faced with wanting a change find they lack the real estate knowledge and planning expertise to make the shift gracefully acceptable and financially successfully.

• Newbie real estate investors may believe that crunching numbers to determine how much profit they want and what it will cost to achieve this profit is all it takes.

Creating an offer to purchase, which entices a property owner to sell for the buyer’s desired price, requires special professional expertise. Then, offering the property for profit-generating rent that will attract qualified prospective renters involves a different set of professional skills. Many new investors possess neither skill set, which are both common in real estate professionals.

The emotional element regarding what sellers will sell for and what renters will pay to live in the resulting investment property can influence financial gain and bottom-line projections. Skill and experience is essential to investors taking all this into account to create profit.

What you don’t know about property ownership and real estate transactions can cost you when buying or selling, wherever you fit in on the list of buyers and sellers above. Do you have experience with contracts, financing, interior design, renovation, conflict resolution…? Then, there’s marketing – both using it to persuade others and personally fending off its effects when you’re making decisions.

What you don’t know about real estate, real estate professionals do. They are committed to studying and keeping up to date on what matters. Most have spent years on the job perfecting their expertise and learning local markets.

Would you surgically operate on yourself or drill your own teeth? It’s that extreme an issue when you don’t engage available professional skill and knowledge to work for and with you.

Concentrate on learning what the right real estate professional can help you achieve.

Not the least of which is discovering what you don’t know about buying and selling. When you think, my goal is “buy my dream home” or “sell at my dream price,” understand what will have to happen and what you must do to achieve the desired outcome.

If you don’t know where to start, no problem.

Real estate professionals are trained to know what needs to be done for prospects and clients every day, every offer, every transaction…. Do you know what you’ll gain with professional help? How determined are you to achieve real estate goals and exceed your expectations, as quickly and hassle-free as possible?

To continue learning about buying and selling real estate, checkout more Realty Times articles by PJ Wade The Catalyst:

4 “Big Regrets” to Avoid When Buying a Home 
Trends Cost Sellers Money
Ready to Talk About Real Estate?


Source: What You Don’t Know About Real Estate Could Cost You

5 Reasons to Buy a Fixer-Upper Instead of a Perfect Place

5 Reasons to Buy a Fixer-Upper Instead of a Perfect Place

“Location, location, location” is the mantra when it comes to where to buy a home. But when it comes to what to buy, it gets a little more complicated. There is definitely a contingent who would insist that you would buy the best home you can afford. But while there is something to be said for buying a move-in ready home, a place that needs a little love can be downright irresistible.

You don’t have to go all Chip and Joanna here, but buying a fixer-upper makes sense for so many reasons

.It costs less

“Fixer-uppers list for an average of 8% below market value,” said LearnVest. If you’re on a budget or are being priced out in your market, this is a way to get a literal foot in the door. How much depends greatly on the location. “Fixer-uppers in Phoenix have the smallest cash discount, saving buyers just $1,000 off list price. But you can save a lot of money in expensive markets like San Francisco, where fixer-uppers are discounted an average of 10%—giving homebuyers $54,000 in upfront savings for renovations on the median home.”

You may be able to finance your renovation

One of the major drawbacks of buying a home that needs to be fixed up is having to come up with the cash—especially after you’ve just put so much money into your down payment and closing costs. There are a few different types of loans that package the mortgage with funds for renovations, and they often come as a surprise to buyers who have only focused on FHA and 30-year conventional loans.

“Whether you need a new roof or your kitchen is outdated, there is a mortgage that’s right for your fixer-upper,” said Bankrate. Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle loan and FHA’s 203(k) loan both bundle a mortgage and funds for renovations. They each require a minimum credit score of 620. You’ll need at least 5% down payment for HomeStyle and just 3.5% for the 203(k).

It gives you the opportunity to build value

With an already-updated home, “If a seller has redecorated or improved the whole place, that seller is reaping the benefit,” said Forbes. “If the home’s value has been raised, the buyer is paying for it. Also, consider this reality: A seller who re-does a whole house in order to sell is not likely putting in the highest-quality materials. They’re cutting costs to maximize profit. But if you buy a fixer-upper, you might be able to secure an undervalued property, improve it and get the benefit of the extra equity. It’s a core real estate concept. If you can find the right property, this could mean thousands of dollars almost immediately.”

You can do renovations over time

There may be a few things you can’t live with in a fixer-upper, like the grungy carpet and cruddy plumbing fixtures, but no one (other than design shows) says your place has to be perfect the day you move in. Taking your time to make updates as you’re able gives you the opportunity to save money and recover from all the expenses of buying the home and moving in.

It allows you to put your stamp on it

When you buy a home that was lived in and fixed up by someone else, it reflects their taste and style—or at least the taste and style they think will help the house sell faster. If you buy a house with the intention of fixing it up, you get to update and upgrade it to your standards, and you have the money to do so.

“One of the primary reasons people buy fixer-upper properties is for the opportunity to make the space their own,” said Green Residential. “Instead of purchasing a home in which someone else designed the layout, chose the materials, and dictated where different elements were placed, you can buy a basic structure and then take charge. It’s like building your own home without having to go through the lengthy process of drawing plans and constructing it from the ground up.”


Source: 5 Reasons to Buy a Fixer-Upper Instead of a Perfect Place

What’s the Real Impact of the Government Shutdown on Real Estate?

What’s the Real Impact of the Government Shutdown on Real Estate?

National parks are a mess (literally), air travel is being jeopardized as TSA agents call out sick and air traffic controllers are asked to work for free, and the Panda Cam at the National Zoo is offline (gasp!). But how is the government shutdown impacting the real estate market? It depends which part you’re looking at.

“An NAR survey of 2,211 members found 75 percent had no impact to their contract signings or closings. However, 11 percent did report an impact on current clients and 11 percent on potential clients,” said the National Association of Realtors. Among those impacted by the shutdown, 17 percent had a closing delay because of a USDA loan.”

The most impacted areas of the market surround:

Buyer uncertainty

Consumer confidence is always a topic of conversation when it comes to real estate, and with rising interest rates and a roller coaster stock market, a government shutdown only makes the issues that much stickier. According to the NAR study, “The most common impact, at 25 percent, was the buyer decided not to buy due to general economic uncertainty, though they were not a federal government employee.”

Loan approvals/Closing delays

Whether or not your loan and/or closing is impacted by the government shutdown largely depends on the type of loan you are getting. “If you’re getting a Federal Housing Administration or Department of Veterans Affairs loan, it’s likely you can expect delays in the underwriting process, and it’s possible your closing date will be pushed back as well,” said the Dallas Morning News.

HUD has said that while new FHA loans will be endorsed during the shutdown, “Some delays with FHA processing may occur due to short staffing.” In addition, new Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM), more commonly referred to as reverse mortgages, are on hold for now.

While the White House has insisted that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) process tax refunds during the shutdown, it’s made no such mandate in regards to helping consumers who need info because they’re buying a home. That means that buyers won’t be able to requests tax return transcripts, which may be required by lenders, thereby delaying the purchasing process.


Source: What’s the Real Impact of the Government Shutdown on Real Estate?

How To Keep From Going House Poor

How To Keep From Going House Poor

The only thing worse than not being able to buy a home when you want to is owning a home and not being able to do anything but sit inside because after your house payment, HOA fee, taxes, and household bills, there’s nothing left.

A few smart strategies can help you avoid becoming house poor.

Think hard about that preapproval amount

Just because the bank tells you that you can buy a $400,000 home doesn’t mean you have to spend all $400,000. It might be that you’re not comfortable with a payment that high if it means you won’t have a cushion and can’t continue to contribute to your savings.

Things you’ll want to consider:

Can you continue to invest the way you want to?

Will you be able to keep up (or build) your emergency fund – “A savings account stuffed with six months expenses or more is a vital part of financial stability,” said Money Under 30.

Are you going to have enough money left over to establish a bank account buffer? “Whether you’re 15, 25 or 65, if you’re having trouble with your money and want to improve, the very first step you should take is to build a bank account buffer,” said Money Under 30. “A bank account buffer is my name for what other people may call a cash cushion, mini emergency fund, rainy day fund or back-up savings. When you have a bank account buffer in place, you don’t have to worry that a poorly timed Starbucks break you charged to your debit card will overdraw your account and trigger a $35 overdraft fee.”

Calculate your ENTIRE payment

Principle and interest will only tell you part of the story. Same with principle, interest, taxes, and insurance. If you’re not also taking into account any Private Mortgage Insurance you need to pay, your Homeowner’s Association fee, and any special assessments, you’re not looking at the whole picture.

Budget for additional expenses

This is not the place for that buffer referenced above, but, rather, a way to make sure you can really handle the home you want without living paycheck to paycheck or, even worse, going into even more debt just so you don’t sink. If you don’t currently have a yard or are renting, you may not be accustomed to paying landscaping fees. If your new home has a pool, don’t forget to budget for that pool cleaner. If you’re moving to a larger home, you may also have an increase in costs for your house cleaning service and utilities, and if your commute is longer, you may be paying more in gas and tolls. They are the little things that can creep up and affect your bottom line.

Don’t do improvements right away

You might want to wait a few months to see how your expenses pan out before you empty your savings on a new kitchen. Ditto for buying a houseful of new furniture. The desire to fix up the house to your standards or pack it with all-new everything is strong. But a little patience can go a long way. Spreading out your purchases while you increase your savings and waiting for sales and zero interest credit offers can help keep your budget in check.

Be careful with an equity line

Having equity in your home is great if it means you made a smart investment. But using it irresponsibly can quickly make your budget spin out of control. The good news is that, according to CoreLogic’s MarketPulse, the number of homeowners who are under water is dropping – now about a third of the 2010 total. The bad news is that equity can be tempting, and stripping your home of it—and making not-so-smart decisions with the money – can create an underwater situation. If you take out a line with the intent on doing some updates or renovations, you’ll want to make sure that you can comfortably afford the new payment and that the renovations you’re making will provide a return on investment.

Get a home warranty

Experts are on the fence about this—some say you absolutely have to have one while others find it a waste of money. But if you’re the type for whom coming up with thousands of dollars to replace the faulty air conditioner that’s no longer conditioning anything or a refrigerator that’s stopped refrigerating will be a hardship, the minimal monthly output is far outweighed by the peace of mind of knowing most of your large repairs will be covered.

Claim a homestead exemption

In some states, you can file a homestead exemption to lower your property taxes. Savings can add up to hundreds of dollars per year or more. You can get more information and learn who’s eligible here.

Change your tax withholding

One of the great benefits of homeownership is the tax writeoff. If you leave your withholdings alone, you may expect to get a big chunk of money back at the end of the year, as long as nothing else has changed. But by adjusting your withholdings, you can hold on to more of your money every month to help offset higher expenses.

After you buy a home, “payroll withholdings should also be reexamined and, perhaps, reduced to account for the reduction in net tax liability,” said HGTV. “Talk to your tax preparer or use the IRS withholding calculator, to get the numbers right.”


Source: How To Keep From Going House Poor

10 “Skips” That Will Help You Save for a Down Payment

10 “Skips” That Will Help You Save for a Down Payment

New year, new house. That’s the plan, right? But the daily habits that only cost a couple bucks here and there may be doing more damage to your budget than you realize, making it impossible to save for that down payment.

What constitutes “discretional income” varies from person to person and situation to situation—what you have to play with today might be far more than last year, thanks to that raise. When you’re saving for a big-ticket item like a house, discretionary income can really take a hit. Maybe your weekly outing to your favorite sushi spot doesn’t seem so necessary anymore (Or, maybe you just need to come during Happy Hour!). This is just one of the adjustments you can make to your lifestyle when saving for a down payment. If your goal is buying a house, these “skips” will be well worth it.

Skips the Starbucks

Your grande latter costs $3.65, and if you get it five days a week, every week…well, you really should go out and buy some Starbucks stock. You only order a grande coffee, you say? OK, $2.10 per day, five days a week, every week is over $500 a year. Even if you bought yourself a machine to make lattes at home (and you have several options here, some for under $200), you’d still save a bundle overall.

Skip the lunch out

It’s just lunch, and it’s not like you’re going anywhere fancy, but all those meals can take a chunk out of your bank account and leave you scrambling for ways to make up the money. “If you go out for lunch Monday through Friday for a year, you might spend $10 a meal—a pretty good deal at most dining establishments. This adds up to $50 weekly,” said Money Under 30. “Spend $50 a week on restaurant food, and in total you’re spending $2,500 per year, near the national average.”

Spend $50 on dinner a couple times a week, and that’s another $5,200. Now consider that you only need a minimum of 3.5 percent for a down payment and the current median home value in the United States is $222,800. That means you need under $8,000 for your down payment, but…ooooops! You just spent it on sandwiches and pasta.

Skip the commute

You probably think mainly in terms of gas and tolls when you consider how much you’re spending on your commute, and that certainly adds up. Can you negotiate a work from home scenario a few days a week? It can save you a bunch—and save the wear and tear on your car (and your nerves), too. But there’s more to the commuting calculation. “The true cost of car commuting not only goes beyond what we spend to maintain a car each year, but what we could have done with that money to ensure a better future,” said Strong Towns. Check out this sobering infographic that will have you marching into your boss’ office to discuss remote opportunities ASAP.

Skip the dry cleaner

Want to save about $500 a year? Take New York Magazine’s ‘Ask the Strategist’s’ advice and use one of their 19 alternatives to dry cleaning, including using mesh laundry bags and specially formulated soap.

Skip the car wash

The average price of a car wash is about $7. Is just cutting out this activity and washing your car at home going to get you that down payment? Of course not. But every little bit helps, and the $364 you’ll save after a year of weekly washes can put you over the top or give you a cushion should moving expenses exceed your budget.

Skip the gym

You could save $54 per month (that’s the average monthly payment of a gym membership across the country), not to mention the cost of your cute workout clothes and fancy shoes, by cancelling your gym membership. Instead, do these 25 great at-home exercises.

Skip the cable

Cut the cord and save about $1,200 in a year. Of course, you’ll have to replace the cable with something, so you’ll likely be adding back some costs. “Assuming you’re one of the 83 percent of consumers who pays for both TV and internet, switching to a web-based service shouldn’t be too expensive,” said Mental Floss. “An Amazon Prime plan costs $99 a year, a basic Netflix subscription costs $132, and Hulu costs $96. Even if you spring for all three choices, you’ll still only be paying $327 annually, saving you about $875 if you’re a former cable subscriber.”

Skip the movies

The average cost of a movie ticket went up again last year—by 3.96% to $8.97. Of course, the ticket is just the beginning of the expense. A family of four can easily hit $100 when you add in popcorn and drinks and Red Vines. Since a trip to the movies is our family’s favorite outing, we would never tell anyone to stop going. But, there are some ways to save. Money Crashers has a great rundown, including going to matinees, which are less expensive than evening shows, and buying at the box office instead of online so you save on the convenience fees. Another great tip is going with another family. If you buy a large popcorn, it usually comes with a free refill, which the concession stand will give you right away. Now you have two tubs of popcorn for half the cost.


Source: 10 “Skips” That Will Help You Save for a Down Payment

The Smartest Smart Home: Five Things to Buy Now that Will Help Sell your Home

The Smartest Smart Home: Five Things to Buy Now that Will Help Sell your Home

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, you’ve undoubtedly heard that it needs to be in the best possible shape to attract legit buyers. But what else can you do to make it stand out? The answer: Turn it into a smart home.

Not only do smart home features make your place seem updated and well-taken-care-of, but they can also make your home sell quicker and fetch you a higher sales price. “According to a 2017 survey conducted by t3 sixty, a brokerage consulting firm for residential real estate, 40 percent of realtors believe smart homes sell faster, regardless of price,” said Cornerstone Home Lending. “This smart home selling potential has increased 33 percent in the past year.”

If you’re ready to invest a few bucks into some Smart Home features, here are the ones that should give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Home security

T3 Sixty research confirms that home security and video “is the fastest growing sector in smart home technology,” said Coldwell Banker in its Smart Home Study. “The T3 Sixty survey shows that 36.4 percent of homebuyers ask most often about smart home security. Video feeds allow homeowners to easily check in on their home, pets and family while traveling or at work. It is also the Smart Home feature that consumers respond to most in marketing.

This exploding segment of the Smart Home market accounted for just under $2.6 billion in sales in 2015, according to Statista, and more than $6.7 billion as of 2017. “It is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2021.”

Smart appliances

“Smart appliances win big in the ROI game, expected to bump the average ROI up 11 percent more than standard appliances,” they said. “In the 2017 Concept Community study conducted by MFE, 18.2 percent of people listed appliances as the smart home feature with the highest ROI.”

Smart lighting

Automated lighting was noted by more than eight percent of participants in the survey as having high ROI when it comes to smart home features. This feature is especially salient when real estate agents point out not just the ease of use of the lighting system, but also the potential savings. Energy.gov says that “LED lights use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.”

Smart thermostats

This is an easy “entry point” into smart tech for home, and one that can have a great ROI. It is also another item that real estate agents should be pointing out to buyers,” said New York magazine’s Intelligencer. “The core of the smart home is about the service, right? So you can show how it will change and affect your life and how you interact with your house. If I walk into four houses in the same neighborhood, and one has a Nest thermostat and the agent has educated me that it could save 10 to 12 percent in my heating and cooling, that’s going to stick out in my mind. While the other houses maybe I’m going to forget about. The thing with having a smart home is, you have to work with a listing agent that can convey those benefits because if you don’t, it might as well not even be there — it just doesn’t matter.”

According to a Nest study, the company’s smart thermostat saved consumers on average 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling,” said Security Sales and Integration. “Based on typical energy costs, that translates to an average savings of $131 to $145 a year.”


Source: The Smartest Smart Home: Five Things to Buy Now that Will Help Sell your Home

The Tell Tale Signs it is Time to Sell Your Residential Property

The Tell Tale Signs it is Time to Sell Your Residential Property

We all, at some point or another, get our feet firmly on the property ladder, and while some do it while they are young, others wait until they reach middle age before making the commitment to buy rather than rent. Once you own your home, there will likely come a time when relocation is the best path to take and with that in mind, here are some tell-tale signs that it is time to put your home on the market.

✓ Insufficient Living Space – A growing family, for example, would require more living space as the children grow and if one of your kids doesn’t have a room they can study in, perhaps it is time to upgrade. This would typically arise for a newly married couple around 10-12 years in the future, and this time is enough to ensure that their financial status supports the upgrade.If you are looking to upgrade, be sure to find a suitable contractor who will offer a fair rate.

✓ Can’t Afford The Mortgage Repayments – If you made the mistake of buying a property out of your budget limit, the best thing might be to put it on the market. If the house is in a prime location and is in good order, you might be lucky and make a profit on the deal, although your objective should be to downsize to a comfortable level.

✓ The Long Daily Commute – If you are spending more than one hour travelling to or from your place of work, this could be the time to look at relocating to an area closer to your work venue. The cost of daily commuting can indeed be high, and it isn’t just the cost in terms of money, there’s also the time that could have been spent with the family. If you would like some more information, check out this article that examines the question, “How far is too far to commute?”

✓ Looking To Start Your Own Business – If you have a great business idea, yet do not have access to startup capital, selling your home will release your equity. You could either rent for a few years while you develop your business, or buy a smaller property, either way, you have the necessary funds for your startup if you sell your home. Of course, a lot would depend on the location and condition of your home, but there is nothing to lose by putting it on the market.

✓ A Career Promotion – If you suddenly are offered a promotion that would mean relocating, it might be the break you have been looking for. Many families end up relocating solely for this reason and in most cases, it turns out to be a wise move. Of course, it is a big step and it would affect your partner and any children you have. You should discuss thing openly with the family and then weigh up the pros and cons before arriving at a decision.

Whatever the reason for selling, it is essential that you engage the services of an experienced conveyancing lawyer, who will facilitate the legalities and can help you to calculate your total costs.


Source: The Tell Tale Signs it is Time to Sell Your Residential Property

The Power of Staging Your Home to Sell

The Power of Staging Your Home to Sell

Often times the smallest changes can enhance a home’s “showability” when it is offered to the public for inspection. Sellers don’t seem to realize when “too much of their home” is showing. Staging your home for its finest presentation requires a room by room critique to offer the best first impressions.

Accentuate the Positive

When studying a room, the first point your eye catches should be a positive one. For example, a home with a massive fireplace commands the first attention spot. However, poor placement of furniture, too many “comfy” afghans and plenty of books and magazines will distort the simplicity of the rooms greatest asset. Add last night’s empty pizza box and full ashtrays and any prospective buyer will less appreciate the fine points the home would have offered.

Here is a list of ten points to keep in mind when staging your home for buyer inspections:

1. Start packing the belongings you absolutely do not need to “live.” Extra books, magazines, kids artwork, afghans that don’t match the decor should be boxed and labeled for your next home. Extra knick-knacks from Christmas, cluttered bulletin boards and several months bank statements can easily be stored away. Kitchens are the biggest culprits as they are such a busy meeting place in the home. Discount coupons, excessive decorative magnets, photos, etc. really catch the eye of the overwhelmed buyer. The top of the refrigerator is the largest collector of sometimes used gadgets. Unless you use your “wok” daily, it is better to clear the top and the front of your refrigerator to make the kitchen a little simpler. Convenient appliances also do better when tucked away so counters look cleaner and sharper. Please check switchplates for fingerprints and smudges, as those are the first places to get noticed. Doorbells are another place that fingerprints are evident. Be sure you are making the right first impression.

2. Family rooms are for relaxing, and need to be staged for crisp impressions and not your lazy evenings! Fold up grandma’s afghans, get rid of tired pillows, and pack up slippers, and cribbage sets for neat and clean appearances. Leftover smolderings in the fireplace can add a stale scent to the room. Give extra attention to removing ashes to avoid the less appreciated smokey smells from last nights fire.

3. Bedrooms are other places we enjoy our conveniences the most. Having our robes and slippers waiting for us does not offer top exposure to a viewing family. Get closets slimmed down for a generous look. Freshen with a soft potpourri to diminish the stale odors that come with humidity and small confined places. Although we like our shades and blinds pulled for sleeping hours generally all buyers are drawn to a light, airy and bright room, so open up all window treatments to maximize brightness. With windows being exposed, be sure they are really clean and sparkling. A house really shows its best when it looks like it has been cared for. Remove jewelry and other small personal items from dresser tops. Clean and simple sells the best.

4. The most inexpensive way to brighten a home besides a fresh coat of paint is to increase the wattage in light bulbs. That small guest room may be seldom used, but needs to look bigger and brighter to an interested buyer. Be sure the lamp can handle a stronger bulb and invest in a 3-way if possible. When you know that a showing is scheduled be sure to turn on every light bulb in the house for the best showing potential. Look around model homes, you will notice all the lights are always on, even on sunny days! This is not the time to conserve electricity – it’s part of your marketing plan. If you have a room that shows particularly dark, put in an interesting lamp and leave it on most of the time. It will help the buyer leave with a brighter impression of the rest of the home.
5. Everybody has a “junk” room or closet. It’s acceptable not to be perfect throughout, but minimize the clutter to one room, desk, or area and you are ensured of a better showing. If it is impossible to move around you could be adversely affecting that buyer’s perception of the size of the home, so give careful consideration to overstuffed rooms.

6. Everyone’s basement and garages are relatively the same, full of seasonal equipment, holiday decorations and tools. Garage sales are the best remedy for liquidating extras that you have accumulated over the years. Better to sell than to pay to have incidentals moved you really don’t need anymore. The biggest offender in basement commentary is the strong mold odors from high humidity. A dehumidifier can assist greatly in relieving that damp “basement” feeling and can alleviate concerns of water problem that don’t exist. It’s worth the effort to alleviate this common problem.

7. The worst offenders for dust and dirt are the cold air returns and heating vents. If they won’t clean up with soap and water and painting doesn’t improve them either, purchasing new ones is not that expensive and a great alternative. A house with cobwebs and loaded vents really gives the wrong impression about the cleaning standards of the present owner.

8. Pet dishes of water and food should be relocated to a spot where they will not get kicked accidentally. Water provides the perfect setting for falls or slips that can cause an accident. Cat boxes and pet beds should be clean and fresh and out of sight if possible. Those that don’t appreciate pets as much as you, will be turned off to pet “evidence.”

9. Junior’s bedroom posters of rock groups to minimize the true picture of the room. Limit the “artwork” to 1 or 2 posters and promise him that he can resurrect the rest at his next destination.

10. Bathroom grouts must look like new. Bleaching can take care of some of the problems, but it’s worth the money to have a professional tile person patch and regrout problem areas. This is not a good time to try extensive grouting yourself. Often times amateur attempts convey the problem more than it is. Shower tracks from doors should glisten, along with the mirrors. Remove prescription bottles, pills, old toothbrushes, and worn towels. This room should get the most attention and look its best at all times. Dated colors in sinks can be replaced for generally a low investment and can render a much-updated feeling when a yesteryear color is no longer an objection. Remove old moldy shower curtains and limit shampoos to a few.

 


Source: The Power of Staging Your Home to Sell

Selling a House? Here Is What the Market Looks Like In the USA

Selling a House? Here Is What the Market Looks Like In the USA

The US economy is doing fine. It is the hottest we have seen since the 1990s. Salaries are high and unemployment is low. Generally, that brings good news for the housing market. Sellers benefit from the fact that there are more buyers in the market. In retrospect, 2018 was largely a seller’s market but things seem to slow down since August.

Higher interest rates and rising home prices are driving sellers away at the moment. Stats from August till October point toward a cool down. Home sales are around 13 percent down compared to last year.

Does that mean the market will soon flip in buyers’ favor? What does that mean for someone interested in selling a house?

Things aren’t as simple as they seem. Real estate experts believe that the market will stay on the seller’s side for yet another year. Despite the lack of buyers, sellers will still be able to take advantage of the booming economy and lack of inventory.

If you are interested in selling a house fall may not be a bad time for you. To know if the market is still on your side, you need to understand how and why the market swings between a seller’s market and a buyer’s market.

When Is the Market in Seller’s Favor?

Seller’s market shows a good time to sell a house while a buyer’s market means buyers are more likely to find a good bargain.

Many factors affect the market such as the number of buyers and volume of inventory. A higher number of buyers means a better chance of selling your home at a good price. A higher volume of inventory means buyers have more choices and an upper hand.

Economic factor also plays an important part. As the economy improves, so does the affordability. More and more people will own a home because they are more confident about their affordability power.

However, excessively high property prices and mortgage rates can often overshadow these economic factors.

So, who does the market favor at the moment? Here are some key facts and findings that will help you get a clearer picture of the current housing market in the US.

Higher Prices, Lower Inventory

Higher prices push buyers away from the market, forcing sellers to reduce prices. However, a flourishing economy boosts buyers’ confidence despite the price hike. People are still looking for a home to buy.

There may be fewer buyers at the moment, but lack of inventory balances the equation for the sellers.

Almost all the major housing markets in the US suffer from an inventory shortage. This means even though there are fewer buyers, they have fewer options to choose from. Together, both trends play out well for the sellers. The property might spend more days on the listings, but there is still a better chance to sell it at your desired rates.

Recently, the market has seen an improvement in terms of inventory. The rate of inventory decline is down 2.2 percent from the last year. It is the first annual increase in the housing stock in three years. While it may not be enough to balance the supply and demand equation as of now, it puts sellers in “better now than later” situation.

The Fear of Future

The housing market is always riddled with uncertainty. Even these uncertainties favor either the buyers or the sellers.

As for sellers, housing prices are unaffected by the gradual rise in inventory. If new homes continue to be constructed at the same rate, it will eventually become more difficult for you to sell your property. The buyers will have more choices and options, and sellers will have to decrease the prices to sell.

On the flip side, buyers are also in a similar dilemma. Mortgage rates don’t seem to slow down and the feds have shown no intention of bringing them down in the near future. As a matter of fact, mortgage rates are expected to rise by 5 percent in 2019. Shall the interest rates rise, most buyers can no longer afford a home despite the increasing inventory and negotiable housing prices.

Due to these uncertainties, many buyers will buy a home right now rather than waiting for the situation to worsen.

The Buyers Are Serious

Currently, millennials make for the majority of the world’s population and most of them have now entered the home buying age. Contrary to what it is said about the millennials and home ownership, recent stats show a different side of the story. With the economy in favor, millennials are now interested in buying their own homes. There may not be a lot of them looking for properties, but those who do are all serious buyers willing to pay the right price for the right property.

Moreover, fall isn’t usually a peak season. There aren’t as many sellers as there are in spring and summer. Buyers looking for a home in fall are the ones who are serious about the purchase. With a lack of competing properties, you have a better chance of selling at a desirable price.

Conclusion

Is it a good time to sell a house? It definitely is. The economy is still strong on its feet and all the factors point towards a solid seller’s market for at least another year. The uncertainties regarding mortgage rates and home prices may have pushed buyers away, but they also put many in a “now or never” situation. As a seller, this may be your best opportunity to make a move.


Source: Selling a House? Here Is What the Market Looks Like In the USA

4 "Big Regrets" to Avoid When Buying a Home

Fear of making The Wrong Decision can be the great immobilizer when it comes to buying real estate.

• Fear that this is “the wrong time” to buy has kept many would-be homeowners on the sidelines and unnecessarily out of equity-building markets.
• Fear of buying the “wrong real estate” can take many forms: fear of buying the wrong location to gain status or long-term value appreciation, the wrong size for family dynamics, the wrong price for financial security, or the wrong functionality for future family needs.

Regrets- manifestations of fear that can immobilize us when faced with big decisions- haunt us long after we make or defer the decision that created them. Be afraid to act and that failure to act may lead to regrets. Regrets about consequences of the delay, the resulting inertia, or the missed opportunity – regrets about what you wanted to do and what you should have done.

In real estate, buyers are faced with a series of big decisions involving often-unknown territory like downpayments, mortgages, real estate law, contracts, and life choices. Fear of making “The Wrong Decision” regarding any one or all of these issues is a common reaction. Real estate professionals work hard to keep fear in check for their buyers. Professionals aim to minimize or eliminate regrets – if buyers allow their real estate professional to help.

Head-off fear and regret by asking your real estate professional a lot of questions and listening to the answers. Using this informed approach when faced with “Big Decisions,” helps buyers avoid Four “Big Regrets”:

Regret #1: Decision Inertia or Waiting Too Long = Fear Fanned by Assumptions, Not Facts

Would-be buyers often watch a rising real estate market from the sidelines because they assume everything is priced out of their reach or because they hope prices will fall. Too often they are proven wrong. One young couple stayed out of the rising real estate market for years, convinced that city prices were too high for them. They watched and waited as prices crept higher. When they finally sought out a real estate professional to learn the facts, they did find a property at a price they could afford and in a location they love. However, delaying their purchase did end up costing them more and reducing their choices.

Act to get the facts as soon as possible and avoid regrets.

Regret #2: Choosing The Wrong Location = Fear Fanned by Lack of Confidence that Makes Buyers Followers, Not Self-Leaders.

Eager buyers who emphasize a list of must-haves based on what friends bought or on trends and fads, not a thoughtful analysis of their specific needs and how exactly a home would enhance their lives, can end up disappointed with what they buy. For instance, without analysis and with assumptions, buying in an outlying less-expensive area can seem like a smart financial move. However, the impact of commuting for work and recreation must be measured beyond the simple expense of driving or transit. Include priceless elements like time away from family, lost time with friends, disconnection from the community, and increased risk of accident, which can make living far from your ideal location a life of ongoing regret.

Research to get local facts on location preferences and avoid future regrets.

Regret #3: Buying a “Money Pit” = Fear of Missing Out, Instead of Learning as Much as Possible

Impatient buyers who jump into a purchase, pressured by multiple offers, egged on by deceptively clever staging, or who skip a home inspection can run into unwelcome expensive surprises. A house can “look” great but be full of problems: bad wiring, old plumbing, insufficient insulation, water leaks, structural issues, and other costly headaches. For example, these problems often materialize when “gut it” renovations are conducted to create the much-touted open-concept main floor. Open-concept homes, where kitchen, living room, dining room, and perhaps family room are combined as one wall-less space, can end up being considerably more expensive than budgeted for.

Investigate property condition to get the facts and avoid renovation regrets.

Regret #4: Playing Not to Lose = Fear of Perceived Risk, Instead of Playing to Win by Using Professional Expertise

Fear of making wrong decisions can make buyers overly cautious and risk-adverse. In real estate, this hesitant approach can lead buyers to settle for less. If fear of risk is out of proportion to the actual risk involved, buyers may be shortchanged, that is, they’ll make an OK real estate purchase instead of a great one. Real estate professionals understand this important distinction for buyers. Long-term financial gains coupled with future lifestyle benefits are not always easy for buyers to visualize, especially when the property is not in the best condition or staged in a style that is not their own. Professionals see beyond the current presentation of the property to anticipate what it may become for specific buyers:

• When buyers are resistant to experienced input or fixated on preconceived ideas or fads, the outcome may not be as good or fulfilling as buyers hoped.
• When the real estate professional explains present and future value to a buyer who acts on this knowledge, results can be amazing.

Act in your own best interest – play to win the best possible outcome.

Emphasize foresight when buying real estate and you’ll avoid regrets in hindsight.


Source: 4 "Big Regrets" to Avoid When Buying a Home

How to Deal with Cranky Toddlers During the Move

How to Deal with Cranky Toddlers During the Move

Moving is an overwhelming experience. It is difficult to say whether you are excited about the new place or melancholic about the one you are leaving behind. You are trying hard to handle all those jumbled up emotions, along with the stress of getting everything done on time. The last thing you need is the background score of a wailing child.


Moving can get messy if you have a toddler in the house. Parents often complain that their kids get extra cranky during the move. While some of them will just cry and whine a lot, others might act out and throw tantrums. With everything lying around in boxes, your precious bundle of joy becomes an irritable bundle of distractions.

It may be difficult to deal with a cranky kid during the move but not impossible. Like a good parent, you need to investigate the cause behind this behavior first.

So, Why Do Kids Hate Moving?

According to various studies, moving can have a psychological impact on kids of all ages. While school going kids are sad about leaving their friends behind, toddlers can feel the lack of attention. When parents are too busy with packing and moving-related hassles, it becomes impossible to give kids the same amount of attention as before. Cranky behavior may be a sign that your child can tell the difference. In a way, it is your child’s call for attention.

Another reason toddlers become so difficult during a move is that this is the age when kids recognize change around them, and they are usually not thrilled about it. When you are moving things around and packing them in boxes, a toddler cannot tell what is going on but they can sense that something is definitely happening. Their minds are not ready to deal with the confusion and it stressed them out. Yes, toddlers’ stress is real and kids act out in response to that stress.
Now that you know that your child’s behavior is but a natural response to the change happening around, let’s see how you can deal with it in the most effective manner.

Stick to a Checklist

We will not mislead you into thinking that you can eliminate the possibility of your toddler creating a fuss. In fact, it is a possibility you will have to stay prepared for. Make sure you have a proper new apartment checklist to keep things organized. This way no matter how much fuss your toddler creates during the move, you can make sure that every box is checked at the end of the day. No amount of distraction will keep you from getting things done.

Seek Help

There is nothing wrong in asking for help from friends and family. You can always ask your kid’s favorite aunt or uncle to pay a visit or even stay a day to keep your child distracted from whatever is going on around them. If that is not possible, hire the nanny or babysitter who looks after your child when you are absent, If you take turns with whoever is looking after the toddler, they won’t feel deprived of the much needed parental attention. Avoiding help during this critical period will help neither you nor your child.

Manage Your Emotions

There is a high chance that your kid is unhappy because you don’t seem too happy either. Toddler’s age is one of learning and observation. They can feel the emotional energy around them. They can tell a frown from a smile. They can read the sign of stress on your face. More importantly, they look at how you deal with stress. As a parent, you can try to conceal signs of stress and frustration on your face or in your attitude. See if you are agitated. Try to display a positive behavior and attitude and your kid will walk to walk.

Don’t Disrupt the Routine

Moving doesn’t happen in a day. It is days and weeks of preparation and packaging. It can throw your entire routine upside down. While you may be big enough to deal with the disruption, your kid might not like it. Kids become difficult to deal with when things aren’t the way they are used to. Toddlers need sleep and meals as per their regular schedule. They also get used to things like family game time or TV time. Try to keep things as normal for them as possible. Naptime, especially, should remain undisturbed because a sleep-deprived toddler can wreak havoc around the house.

Give them Control

Toddler loves control. They love it when you let them be a part of what you are doing. You can use this fact to your advantage. Think of smaller tasks that your toddler can perform. You can start with their own stuff, like toys. Give them a box and tell them to safely put their toys in that box. You can make things even more interesting for them by letting them draw on the boxes. That will keep them busy and distracted, and they will take part in the process. However, for the sake of maintaining the routine, make sure your baby’s room is the last one you pack.

The Final Piece of Advice

While we talk about keeping the child distracted and routine undisturbed, it doesn’t imply that your child should be kept in darkness about the move. It is important to prepare them for the change, and more importantly, get them excited about it. A sudden change is not at all healthy for your toddler. It might disturb their sleeping and eating patterns and result in bad behavior. Try to ease them into the idea by paying a few visits to the new place before moving. Also, let them say goodbye to their old room so that they are more aware of the situation. Remember, your child is not being unreasonable. The crankiness is just a natural response to the change and lack of attention. Tend to them wisely and they will be as calm as a clam.


 JennyHarrisonJenny Harrison is a passionate home and lifestyle blogger. She loves to engage with readers who are seeking home and lifestyle-related information on the internet. She is a featured blogger at various high authority blogs and magazines in which she shared her research and experience with the vast online community. Currently associated with NYC moving company ‘All Around Moving Services Company Inc.’ Specializes in arranging and assembling services of professional and skilled local movers locally in New York City as well as areas in New Jersey, Connecticut and the Miami Dale area in South Florida for their blog operations. Follow her on twitter @MJennyHarrison for more updates.


Source: How to Deal with Cranky Toddlers During the Move

Is There Anything Left to Flip?

Is There Anything Left to Flip?

So you want to flip a home. Yeah, well, you and everybody else.

“Just more than 207,000 homes were flipped in 2017, according to a new report from Attom Data Solutions, which defines a flip as a property bought and sold in the same 12-month period,” said CNBC. “That is the highest number of flips in a decade. The number of people or companies flipping homes, 138,410, also jumped to a decade high.”

And therein lies the problem. With so many homes flipping and home flippers competing for the same properties, how does one even go about finding a place to buy these days?

We have some ideas.

Work with a savvy real estate agent

This is key because your exposure to distressed properties will be limited. Also, a savvy real estate agent may have connections—the kind of connections that could find you a flip before it hits the market.

Keep your eye on really distressed properties

Pass by an eyesore on your way to work every day? Is there a house down the street with an unkempt lawn and noticeable deferred maintenance? You never know what’s going on inside, but your Realtor may be able to find out. You could be in the right place at the right time to get a great deal and even help out someone who needs a hand by getting them out from under the home before it’s taken by the bank.

Go where the projected growth is

It may already be too late to score in a place that’s on one of those fastest-growing cities lists. Prices may have appreciated past the point of potential profit on a flip, and inventory is likely low. Instead, pay attention to cities that are projected to be on the rise so you can get in before everyone else does.

Look for estate sales

“What they could do to make it easier is combine the two. You know, Mr. Kline died yesterday, leaving behind a wife, two children, and a spacious three-bedroom apartment with a wood-burning fireplace.” — Billy Crystal’s Harry on the difficulty of finding a place in NYC in When Harry Met Sally

Turns out Harry was on to something. If you’re looking for a house to flip, you have to get creative. Poring through the MLS for a house may yield a winner here and there, but the competition from other would-be flippers is gonna be fierce. That probably means that if you do find something flip-worthy, you may end up paying more because you’re bidding against other people, and that will reduce your potential profit. Does that mean checking the obits? Probably not. But estate sales…now that’s another story.

Check in with landlords

Are there any rentals in your neighborhood? Maybe one of the owners would be willing to unload an underperforming home. Maybe that same individual doesn’t want the hassle of getting it ready for sale.

Don’t be afraid of the city

Dingy downtown areas in many cities across the country have turned many a would-be real estate investor into a flipping pro. In many cases, these buyers took a chance on an area that many would have described as “iffy.” Investors often call these “transitioning areas” and some pros, like Christina El Moussa from Flip or Flop, go right ahead and call them bad neighborhoods. These areas can provide great bang for the buck if you choose right.

“It seems like one year a particular neighborhood will be really ‘bad’ with a lot of vacancies and a high crime rate,” said El Moussa on Real Estate Elevated. “The next year the crime rate will be a little lower, and there’ll be fewer vacancies. The year after that, it’ll be an affordable neighborhood, and before you know it, people are paying a lot of money to get houses in the area.”
Don’t be afraid of the suburbs
Have you heard? The ‘burbs are hot, even with millennials, who many thought would always embrace the city lifestyle. One thing millennials want, however, is an updated, move-in ready property (unless they’re flipping, too!). You can grab their attention with a well-done property in a nice family neighborhood.

Watch for moving trucks

There’s a scene in the Sex and the City movie where Miranda, in searching of a new apartment in New York, runs into a building to inquire about a vacant apartment because she saw men loading up a moving truck out front (Apparently, all of our best ideas for finding a flip should come from movies filmed in New York!). While no one is recommending you go running into a home as someone is moving out, the moving truck is something to look out for in target neighborhoods. Someone who’s moving out under curious circumstances—no one in the neighborhood knew the home was for sale, it’s late at night, etc.—is someone you may want to pay attention to. It could be a foreclosure situation or some other opportunity you want to take advantage of before someone else does.

Look at auctions and foreclosure listings

“The first step in successful fix-and-flipping is finding the profitable property in the first place. You can call it investor’s common sense to look for properties in the best areas selling at low prices,” said Do Hard Money. “However, many new real estate investors come up empty-handed month after month until they finally give up in frustration. This is because they’re all doing the same thing: they’re looking in the same place. Most of the new flippers look on the MLS for potential properties. Dare to do differently. Look for properties by lesser-known means, such as foreclosure listings, estate sales, short sales and real estate auctions.”

Check the schools

Don’t have kids? Doesn’t matter. Your buyer may, and that means the schools are important. And, in truth, even buyers who don’t now or may never have kids still seek out good schools because of their positive impact on home values. “If you’ve found an affordable home in a neighborhood that’s on its way up, your next step is to research the local schools,” said Money Crashers. “Homes in good school systems sell faster, and command higher prices, than homes in mediocre or poor school systems. Use websites like GreatSchools, SchoolDigger, and Niche to see rankings and reviews of local schools.”


Source: Is There Anything Left to Flip?

Halloween Decorating and Marketing Tips For Selling Your House

Halloween Decorating and Marketing Tips For Selling Your House

Planning to deck your house out with ghosts and skeletons and every last one of the pumpkins and gourds in your supermarket’s produce department? If you’re also planning to sell your home, you might want to rethink that strategy.

There are mixed opinions on how much to decorate for Halloween—or if you should at all—when selling your home. Can it actually help you sell a home if you turn the holiday into a marketing opportunity? Possibly. We took the temperate of the industry for some guidance.

When should you put up your decorations?

You may want to keep an eye on your neighbors for this one. If you’re the first house on the block to decorate, your home may stand out for the wrong reasons. If you’re still worried that your Halloween décor may distract from the home, follow Mass Realty’s advice. “Overall, you won’t want to put up spooky Halloween decorations until the night of Halloween and make sure to take them down the next morning,” they said. “Instead, it’s alright to put up seasonal decorations, such as pumpkins, bright leaves, or colorful corn cobs. That way, no one gets offended and you can keep them up for weeks to feel the spirit of the season.”

Should you continue your annual spooky theme?

You may be known for your elaborate displays that have a different theme (Friday the 13th, Carrie) each year, but perhaps it’s best to forgo that when trying to sell your home. “If Halloween is your holiday, it is best to take a break this year,” said Shorewest Realtors. “Over decorating will hide your home and turn off potential buyers. Instead think of how you will decorate your new home!”

If you do want to add some Halloween-specific decorations, use common sense. “Experts say keep Halloween decorations neutral,” said Lyst House. “So what Halloween decorations should you avoid? Well for starters…clowns, dead children, blood and gore, and rotten pumpkins.”

Time your listing photos right

Be careful with your listing photos if you do decorate for Halloween. If your home is still for sale come Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and even Valentine’s Day, your photos will look extremely dated. This will likely turn off buyers, who may wonder what’s wrong with you home because it’s been on the market a while. A good tip is to use spring photos, if possible, said Fortune Builders. “If you can, try to take property photos when the sun is shining and you can take advantage of all the great natural light that spring has to offer. It will help your property stand out in a cold (and gloomy) market.”

Don’t miss a marketing opportunity

“If you must decorate for the holiday, hold a Halloween open house to attract buyers with children or those young at heart,” said Mass Realty. “Set the date for the weekend before the spooky holiday to bring in more potential buyers. Offer homemade cookies and a $10 gift certificate to an ice cream shop for the adult with the best costume who registers at the door. Take photos to compare costumes after the open house. Have your real estate agent contact the winner to pick up the prize, giving the agent time to discuss the home with all who registered.”

Turn it into a party

We love this idea from Opendoor, who threw Halloween Open Houses in three Arizona cities on Halloween night last year. “We greeted trick-or-treaters at three Opendoor houses in Glendale, Gilbert, and in North Central Phoenix,” they said. “We gave out more than 1,000 candy bars…as well as other tasty treats. We had games and activities for the whole family, including a fun real estate trivia game. The big hit, though, was the haunted GIF photo booth to capture the fabulous costumes of our visitors—we had lines at every house! The event was a huge success. We saw more than 1,200 guests across all three homes and, more importantly, we brought our neighbors across the valley together on Halloween night.”


Source: Halloween Decorating and Marketing Tips For Selling Your House

Buy Real Estate Now

Buy Real Estate Now

Don’t have the resources to purchase real estate on your own? Do what I did, buy real estate with partners.

I will have an entire series on this subject soon if there is an interest. We call it “Syndication” and it may be your key to financial freedom and a successful real estate business.

Considerations When Purchasing Property With Others

Whenever you consider owning property jointly, there are long-term considerations to bear in mind. We have highlighted a few important points to clarify before going to contract:

1. Look at the relationship of all the buyers. As college roommates, the longevity of the relationship may be limited to a few years. Project what will happen if one party wants to be bought out at a later date. Can one of the buyers handle the mortgage payment and buy out alone? Often times it will take both incomes to support the payments. If one party opts for a change, where will that leave the other owner? Will you be forced to sell? It may be prudent to build in a “notice” clause in your agreement to allow for time for one party to sell their interest. Do you, as the remaining buyer have a right of “first refusal?” What if the other buyer sells to someone you are not comfortable with? These are questions that may dampen the initial enthusiasm of home ownership but are critical to harmony later on when the relationship may shift for any number of reasons.

2. Provisions on an agreement might need to address additional persons one or the other of the owners may want to bring into the jointly owned property. If buyer #1 brings in another person to live with, that makes buyer #2 crazy, then it is better to have some kind of provision for settlement prearranged for possible problems or complications.

3. Decide how the title will be held prior to purchase. As joint tenants, if one party dies, the other party enjoys the right of survivorship. However, if the title is held in a tenancy in common, one party can dispose of their share to whomever they choose, leaving the other divisional owner at a possible disadvantage depending on the circumstances.

4. Outline a set of guidelines for repairs in advance. If one party wants to put on a new roof, and the other party doesn’t want to invest the money, what happens? Delineating specific points of repair or replacement can make improvements an easier subject to deal with. Keeping track of which owner has contributed the investment/improvement dollars can make reimbursement at the time of sale easier and clearer.

These are just a handful of the questions you may want to ask yourself before investing with others in the homeownership/real estate investment game.


Source: Buy Real Estate Now

Scary New Trend: Lying About Income on a Mortgage Application

Scary New Trend: Lying About Income on a Mortgage Application

Would you lie about your income to qualify for a mortgage? According to CoreLogic, lots of people are. “Mortgage fraud risk jumped more than 12 percent year over year at the end of the second quarter, said CNBC of the CoreLogic findings. “One in every 109 mortgage applications is estimated to have indications of fraud.”

With high home prices and rents, rising mortgage rates, and heavy competition for available properties, potential buyers are feeling more pressure to own a place than ever. “As a result, an increasing number of buyers are lying and cheating,” they said. CoreLogic’s six fraud indicators include: “identity, income, occupancy, property, transaction and undisclosed real estate debt,” and they noted the highest percentage of mortgage fraud risk in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico.

The property data and analysis company found that fraud related to income reporting was up 22 percent in an attempt by borrowers to circumvent strict debt-to-income limits for mortgage lending. “Ominously, most of it is not traceable to criminals trying to bilk lenders out of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars through traditional loan swindles,” said the Washington Post. “Rather, it’s increasingly what researchers call ‘bona fide’ borrowers who don’t have the income to qualify but are determined to get a home mortgage, even if they have to mislead the lender.”

They’re accomplishing this through Internet sites that help borrowers fudge their income and even provide a confirmation service on cross-check. “A casual search will result in any number of online services that will not only generate fake pay stubs, but will also answer phone calls and ‘confirm’ income verbally, all for a fee,” said CNBC. Another scam involves borrowers who claim to have received an interest-free down payment gift from a relative and who are able to disguise these borrowed funds with a faux gift letter they found online.

The Washington Post also noted that, “Fannie Mae recently warned lenders via several alerts about a loan-fraud technique in which applicants claim to work for specific companies and provide income and employment information that appears to be bulletproof but turns out to be totally bogus. Applicants frequently claim to have been students immediately before their current employment. This makes it difficult or impossible for lenders to pull tax transcripts from the Internal Revenue Service for the year spent as a ‘student.’”

The risk is high all around

Borrowers may think of padding their income as a harmless white lie that has little downside if they’re able to meet their goal of buying a home, however mortgage fraud carries with it some serious risks. “What are the possible consequences? Getting turned down for the mortgage is the least of them,” said Credit.com. “If your falsehood is discovered after you get the loan, your lender could boost your interest rate or even demand immediate repayment in full. Tax-related falsehoods could get you in trouble with the IRS. In addition, penalties for mortgage fraud—which is what lying on a mortgage application is—range as high as 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. You likely won’t face a penalty like that for a small exaggeration or omission, but you could still end up with a fine and a conviction.”

And then there’s the risk to the housing industry if this current fraud trend is at all responsible for causing another crash; CoreLogic found a “far higher risk for fraud in loans coming from wholesale lenders or brokers—which don’t fund the loans but instead gather a borrower’s information and shop it to lenders,” said CNBC. “That implies brokers are also committing fraud. This was common during the last housing boom, when mortgage fraud helped bring about one of the worst financial crises in U.S. history.”


Source: Scary New Trend: Lying About Income on a Mortgage Application

Buying a Rental Property? Here’s What You Can Expect

Buying a Rental Property? Here’s What You Can Expect

If you run across someone who owns multiple rental properties, it’s very possible that individual never intended to own so many. In addition, those who own a rental property might also be “accidental” landlords after having inherited a property or renting out their current home while buying another.

Real estate investors can often find themselves quitting their current job and buying and renting real estate full time. Real estate is an asset that can both appreciate in value while at the same time providing a monthly cash flow. You’d be hard pressed to think of any other physical asset that can do that. So why is not uncommon to meet someone who owns several rentals? It might very well be due to qualifying for a mortgage to buy and finance an investment property.

Conventional financing will ask for a down payment of at least 20 percent of the sales price and with a 25 percent down payment the terms get a little better. Interest rates for rentals are slightly higher compared to an owner occupied property. Investors have the choice of both fixed and adjustable rate mortgages ranging in terms from 10 to 30 years. But with the first rental being purchased, the buyers don’t benefit from the income derived from the rental when qualifying. Instead, the buyers must qualify based upon the new mortgage payment, including property taxes and insurance, without adding rental income into the mix. This is in addition to any current mortgage payment. But all that changes with the next property.

Subsequent purchases of investment real estate do in fact use the income from the rental to help qualify. Investors want to cash flow on their investments each month and if the rents received from a potential investment aren’t enough to cover the new mortgage payment, the investor will likely pass. This means the next rental property is no longer an expense but instead generates monthly income. Who wouldn’t want that type of investment? Yes, property values rise and fall but in time values do rise, contributing to the owner’s equity position. One caveat, you’ll need to own the first rental for at least two years showing you can both manage the property and the unit provided regular income.

Speaking of managing the property, when you become a landlord, you’ll have the occasional tenant issue. Remember when you first rented and the sink disposal went out? Did you go to the appliance store and buy a new one? No. You called the landlord. You can expect the same when you buy your first rental. But when you buy your next one and the next one you might want to think about hiring a property manager to take care of these issues for you.

You can think of your first rental as a learning experience. But once you’ve owned that first rental for a couple of years, don’t be surprised if you start shopping for your second.


Source: Buying a Rental Property? Here’s What You Can Expect

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home

Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home

Keeping the house together during the selling process is a challenge. Making sure everything is just right for showings and open houses can be exhausting and overwhelming Throw kids into the mix, and things can get downright chaotic. Fortunately, a few small decor choices can help conceal kid clutter—changing your “for sale” sign to “sold.”

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniture’s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether it’s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your home’s cleanliness and open floor space to think about what’s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategy—underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your child’s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals what’s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kids’ teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot what’s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesn’t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks–kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some Style

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesn’t. Sort into “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away.” This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? You’ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kids’ areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little style. Choose bookcases and desks with useful cubbies and shelves, and dress up the space with vibrant and unique artwork. Inspire imagination in potential buyers (and keep the space useful while your home is on the market) by choosing a few colorful supplies and knick-knacks to display.

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kids’ messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that they’ll want to make their own.

 

Heather Cordonnier is a writer for Crate and Barrel. She specializes in sharing her style-savvy tips on DIY and lifestyle blogs.


Source: Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home

Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

As Canada’s homeownership rate drops for the first time in 45 years, a new study says those who buy a home are better off financially than those who rent.

If you can afford to buy a home, do it. That’s the message from a new study by Mortgage Professionals Canada, which compared the costs of buying versus renting in 266 scenarios across Canada.

“The report demonstrates that the money Canadians are spending on monthly rent, if used instead to finance a home, would be a very beneficial investment over time,” says Will Dunning, author of the report. “The costs of owning and renting continue to rise across Canada. However, rents continue to rise over time whereas the largest cost of homeownership – the mortgage payment – typically maintains a fixed amount over a set period of time. The result is that the cost of renting will increase more rapidly than the cost of homeownership.”

“Buying a home also has more long-term upside than renting,” says Dunning. “Everyone wants to save for their future, but rising costs, including rent, are making that more difficult. The lower life-time costs of homeownership mean that owners have more ability to save for retirement than do renters. The financial benefits of homeownership go beyond equity accumulations.”

The report comes as Canada’s homeownership rate is dropping for the first time in 45 years. A report by Point2Homes found that 11 of 13 provinces saw the share of homeownership drop in the 2016 Census, according to Statistics Canada.

Homeowners still outnumber renters by more than two-to-one. The homeownership rate hit a high of 69 per cent in 2011 but dropped to 67.8 per cent in 2016. The number of renters rose from 31 per cent in 2011 to 32.2 per cent in 2016.

Dunning acknowledges in the report that it’s not easy for first-time buyers to come up with a down payment, due to rising house prices and government housing policies such as the mortgage stress test. It requires borrowers to qualify for a mortgage at two percentage points higher than the posted mortgage rate.

The study determined that across the dataset of 266 locations and different dwelling types, the total cost of homeownership is an average of $3,052 per month, compared to $2,511 for renting the same property.

“However, the cost of ownership includes a substantial amount of principal repayment ($990 in the first month). Since this results in a reduction in the amount of mortgage owing, it is a form of saving,” says Dunning. “There is, therefore, a net cost of homeownership that excludes the repayment of the principal. This net cost of $2,062 per month is lower than the cost of renting by $449 per month. On this basis it is, on average across the dataset, currently cheaper to own than rent.”

He says that since the homeowner is tying up a lot of capital with the down payment and closing costs, they should consider the rate of return on that investment.

“In this data set there is a negative rate of return (-5.2 per cent per year) when the total cost of homeownership is calculated,” he says. But when calculating rate of return, “the repayment of principal must be taken into account (since it is a legitimate component of the return on investment). On this basis, the rate of return at the beginning is an annualized rate of 4.3 per cent.”

While some people might consider this “inadequate,” Dunning says that since buying a house is a low-risk investment, a high return on investment shouldn’t be expected. His calculations did not include any capital appreciation on the home, since there is no guarantee that house values will go up. “In most situations, homeownership is justified financially without any need to expect price appreciation,” he says.

Another advantage is that homeownership in Canada has a tax-free rate of return, which other investments do not.

In Dunning’s scenarios, if the mortgage interest rate does not change, in 10 years the cost of ownership will be lower than the cost of renting in 263 out of the 266 cases. If the rate rises a full percentage point after five years, owning will still be cheaper than renting in 92 per cent of the cases, and if the rate is up by two per cent after five years, 82 per cent of the homeowners in the scenarios still come out on top.

“Looking even farther ahead, by the time the mortgage is fully repaid in 25 years or less, the cost of owning will be vastly lower than the cost of renting in every one of the 266 cases,” says Dunning.

He also looked at data from Statistics Canada to compare the wealth of homeowners versus renters and found that homeowners ìare distinctly better off financially compared to tenants who are similar in age and level of income. The difference is not just in terms of their home equity. Owners have more non-housing wealth than tenants. This may reflect that because owners have lower lifetime housing costs than tenants, they have more opportunity to accrue other savings.î

Dunning adds: “In this light, is it any wonder that Canadians remain highly interested in homeownership? Contrary to what might be asserted by some ‘housing bears’, home buying is not the result of a ‘cult’, a ‘mania’ or a ‘delusion’. It is the result of a reality that, even at much higher house prices, and even with the risk that interest rates may increase substantially, in most situations Canadians, over long periods of time, are still much better off as homeowners than as tenants.”


Source: Study Says Buying a Home is Cheaper Than Renting

5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

There’s no shortage of advice for home buyers. Getting approved for a mortgage or how to keep on top of a credit report is certainly good advice but there should be just as much attention given to those who are selling their home. After all, home sellers also typically turn around and become home buyers. For most, selling the home means coming up with the necessary funds for a down payment and closing costs. Here are five common mistakes home sellers make.

 

Wrong Price

The first misstep is to price the home wrong. Either too high or too low. Getting the price “just right” means getting the most out of your home while at the same time not pricing it out of the market to the point where very few, if any, potential buyers reach out. If you have some time to sell, you could list your home on the higher side compared to recent sales in your area. If you need to sell quickly, the lower end can help. You should contact a couple of real estate agents and ask for a Comparative Market Analysis.

Flying Solo

Some home owners think they can save a few thousand dollars by selling a home without a real estate agent when in fact it can cost someone thousands of dollars by not using a real estate agent. You simply can’t provide the reach that a licensed real estate professional can. When a home is placed into the local Multiple Listing Service, the home is then available for potential home buyers all across the country and not just your neighborhood. A deeper buyer pool means more offers.

Show Ready

One thing you’ll need to keep on top of is the selling condition of your home. This means both inside your home and out. How’s the curb appeal? When someone first pulls up to your home are they automatically drawn in? Or maybe the lawn needs some work and the shrubbery is a little ragged. Keep the lawn trimmed and free of clutter. Power wash the sidewalk, driveway and front porch. Inside, you also need to de-cluttter. Open up each room by placing bulky furniture into a storage unit. Take down family photos and portraits. When buyers walk into your home they want to be able to visualize it being theirs, and having an instant reminder that it’s not by having family photos all around detracts from that.
Inspection Home buyers are advised to have a potential property inspected to discover anything that needs to be fixed, updated or repaired. But you too should hire an inspector to perform a complete run-down from basement to attic looking for anything that needs your attention. The buyers will order an inspection so you want to know what they’ll discover before they do with their own.

Getting Anxious

Don’t get too anxious and don’t jump at the very first offer. Your sales price will probably be much higher than what you originally paid for it, but take a deep breath when that first offer comes in. Give your agent plenty of time to list your home and hold open houses to gain a wider audience and have some patience. If you accept an offer very early on in the process, you might be costing yourself thousands of dollars and no more offers.


Source: 5 Mistakes Home Sellers Make

There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership

There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership

Homeownership has always been the “great American dream”. And Congress — with one exception — did not take it away when it passed the tax reform bill last December.

To foster and encourage this dream, Congress has consistently enacted — or preserved — tax legislation which favors homeowners. Indeed, much has been written that our tax laws discriminate against renters, by giving unfair and unequal tax benefits to those who own homes.

Every four years, some candidate for high political office tries to focus our attention on equalizing the tax laws, and repealing the homeowner benefits, but these arguments have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

For those of us who own homes, here is a list of the itemized tax deductions available to the average homeowner. Every year, you are permitted to deduct the following expenses:

Taxes. Real property taxes, both state and local, can be deducted. The one exception referenced above: tax filers can deduct on Schedule A any combination of state and local property taxes and income or sales taxes but only up to a total of $10,000. Interestingly, married couples who file their own separate tax return can only deduct up to $5000.

However, it should be noted that real estate taxes are only deductible in the year they are actually paid to the government. Thus, if in year 2018, your lender held in escrow moneys for taxes due in 2019, you cannot take a deduction for these taxes when you file your 2018 tax return.

.Mortgage lenders are required to send an annual statement to borrowers by the end of January of each year, reflecting the amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes the homeowner paid during the previous year.

Mortgage Interest. Interest on mortgage loans on a first or second home is fully deductible, subject to the following limitations: acquisition loans up to $1 million, and home equity loans up to $100,000. If you are married, but file separately, these limits are split in half. But note that for new loans taken out after December 14, 2017, the limit on deductible mortgage debt is reduced to $750,000. Loans in existence prior to that date are grandfathered.

You must understand the concept of an acquisition loan. To qualify for such a loan, you must buy, construct or substantially improve your home. If you refinance for more than the outstanding indebtedness, the excess amount does not qualify as an acquisition loan unless you use all of the excess to improve your home. However, any other excess may qualify as a home equity loan.

Let us look at this example: Several years ago, you purchased your house for $150,000 and obtained a mortgage in the amount of $100,000. Last year, your mortgage indebtedness had been reduced to $95,000, but your house was worth $300,000.

Because rates were low last year, you refinanced and were able to get a new mortgage of $175,000. Your acquisition indebtedness is $95,000. The additional $80,000 that you took out of your equity does not qualify as acquisition indebtedness, but since it is under $100,000, it qualifies as a home equity loan.

Several years ago, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that one does not have to take out a separate home equity loan to qualify for this aspect of the tax deduction. However, if you had borrowed $200,000, you would only be able to deduct interest on $195,000 of your loan — the $95,000 acquisition indebtedness, plus the $100,000 home equity.

One more caveat: the proceeds of a second mortgage — or a home equity loan — are still deductible but only if the money is used to substantially improve the property.

The remaining interest is treated as personal interest, and is not deductible.

Points. Because mortgage rates are still considerably low, not too many borrowers are paying points. When you obtain a mortgage loan, in order to get a lower rate mortgage, you would pay one or more points. Whether referred to as “loan origination fees,” “premium charges,” or “discounts,” these are still points. Each point is one percent of the amount borrowed; if you obtain a loan of $170,000, each point will cost you $1,700. And the interest rate on your loan will be lowered.

The IRS has also ruled that even if points are paid by sellers, they are still deductible by the homebuyer. Points paid to a lender when you refinance your current mortgage are not fully deductible in the year they are paid; you have to allocate the amount over the life of the loan. For example, you paid $1700 in points for a 30 year loan. Each year you are permitted to deduct only $56.66 ($1700 divided by 30); however, when you pay off this new loan, any remaining portion of the points you have not deducted are then deductible in full.

Needless to say, if you have any questions about these tax benefits, discuss them with your financial and legal advisors.


Source: There Are Tax Benefits With Home Ownership

Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensive

Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensive

Based on what John and Lee (privacy protected) learned about real estate from friends and online searches, these first-time buyers believed that location is less important than price.

Do they know what they’re talking about?

John and Lee currently rent a spacious apartment in the city where they both work. They thoroughly enjoy their urban, walkable neighborhood and its proximity to work and to all that matters to them.

Ready to move onto the next phase of their lives, the couple recently decided it’s time to invest in real estate. They are attracted to a less-pricy real estate market in the smaller, more-rural center across the state line because they feel they’ll get more house for their money there.

List price can dominate decision making for buyers, but is it always a clear indicator of where value lies? List price is the price—based on each seller’s own criteria—that sellers indicate they may consider selling for as part of their public offering.

The couple’s decision to move to a cheaper real estate market is based on key assumptions they’ve made, not on a drive to dramatically change their lifestyle. If you’re a wanna-be buyer or have recently purchased, do any of the couple’s Five Real Estate Assumptions, below, sound familiar to you?

# 1. Square footage is their immediate focus since the couple plans to start a family once they are homeowners and assume they’ll need more space.

# 2. Commute time or expense is not a big concern to them, even though living in a community across the state line will force them to battle often-unpredictable bridge traffic—Lee each week day and John several days a week.

# 3. Older, more established neighborhoods appeal to this couple, even though neither of these long-time renters have any hands-on experience with living in or maintaining an older property, or paying others to do so.

# 4. Interest rates have been low for so long, these eager buyers—John a self-employed entrepreneur and Lee a teacher—assume that they’ll get the mortgage they need once they find the right property.

# 5. The couple is confident they can “figure out real estate” by asking friends and checking things out online. They assume that they’ll always act in their own best interest.

Based on your own experience, do you have any concerns about their assumptions and related decisions and perspectives? Could anything go wrong for them? What should their first step be?

John and Lee made assumptions that are common buyer limitations. Watch enough real estate TV shows, follow enough buyers on social media, and check out enough online listings and you can feel like a real estate expert. If it were that easy, no one would ever buy the wrong house or choose a poor location. Nor would anyone arrange a poorly-suited mortgage or fail to arrange necessary financing.

The big question for buyers to consider before they begin the buying process is, “What can’t we afford to learn in hindsight?” (Hindsight, or looking backward to second guess yourself, is 20:20; however, the knowledge gained always arrives too late to act on.)

Buying a house, condominium unit, recreational property, or even vacant land is complicated by the fact that each real estate property is unique, so comparison shopping is tricky at best, especially for uninitiated buyers.

Everything may go smoothly for John and Lee during the buying process or it may seem to. However, if they are wrong about any one or more of their 5 assumptions above, they may not discover the full impact of these failings until long after they move in or when they want to sell and use the expected profit to up-grade to their next home.

Real estate professionals will tell you that each of these common buyer assumptions raise many questions and concerns that should be resolved before buyers sign on the dotted line.

Here’s Five Key Real Estate Realities tied to the Five Buyer Assumptions:

# 1. Square footage: Buyers may gain more square footage in lower-priced real estate markets, but those properties will usually not increase in value as quickly as more prized locations, if they do at all. For instance, market value is also strongly tied to local schools and amenities, so proximity to top-notch schools will drive real estate appreciation, even for owners who do not have school-aged children.

Assumptions that big houses are better are distracting. Space-efficient design and layout can make smaller homes more cost-effective and more pleasant to live in.

# 2. Commuting: Commuting is expensive in terms of time, money, stress, and lost time with family, friends, and favorite past-times. Location, in the form of proximity to work and play, adds value to real estate properties through walkability, reduced transportation costs, and improved life balance. Buying into a different lifestyle and stretching your life between two location can add costs, inconveniences, and missed opportunities that may out-weigh the apparent savings in price.

# 3. Condition: Modernized properties carry more value because they are more comfortable and economical to live in and maintain, and they can look more appealing.

# 4. Mortgages: Rural properties can be harder to finance than similar urban homes. Self-employed individuals may discover that qualifying for a mortgage is more difficult than it is for those with standard employment histories.

# 5. Real Estate Knowledge: Learning the hard way can be expensive in real estate. What we don’t know that we don’t know or fully understand can result in missed opportunity, over-paying, or being taken advantage of—if not being subject to out-right fraud. Real estate professionals can explain—relative to the buyer’s situation—how and why location is the key determinant of real estate value and appreciation over time.

Buyers can benefit from starting their home search by discussing, with real estate professionals who work in their preferred location, buyers’ often-unconscious real estate assumptions and conclusions about their online research. These professionals can help buyers weigh alternatives and effectively expand their search area, as necessary, after the professional fully understands buyer needs. Professionals can also explain how market value, not list price, is the key factor when buying.

With professional ingenuity and support, buyers can transform assumptions into knowledge and the potential for hindsight disappointments into forward-thinking strategies aimed at investment in financial and real estate security.

Additional Resources by PJ Wade


Source: Home Buyer Assumptions Are Expensive

How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment (ROI) because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.

The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isn’t the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.

More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.

1. Alarm Systems Aren’t as Expensive as They Used to Be

According to HomeAdvisor’s survey, most homeowners invest between $330-$1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.

Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.

Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.

2. Add Resale Value

Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.

One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.

3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime

In 2016, Rutgers University released a study that found that neighborhood crime rates dropped significantly when alarm systems were installed in multiple neighborhood homes.

Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.

With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20% on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.

5. They Save Money in the Long Run

Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.

Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.

It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.

While security systems aren’t foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether you’re installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.

Written By: Katy Caballeros


Source: How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home

Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a complex process that may take weeks to complete. This is partially because your house may need to be updated or renovated before it can go on the market. What are some of the most crucial fixes that you should make before listing your property?

Update the Exterior

The first thing that you will want to do is make sure that the home’s exterior is in good condition. This may involve landscaping work such as removing trees or shrubs that are dead or dying. It may also involve inspecting the roof, siding or other exterior components that may need to be repaired or updated to make the house easier to sell. At the very least, a fresh coat of paint should be applied before putting the house on the open market.

Check the Air Conditioning

If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, make sure that it works properly. This means that it should start easily and produce an even amount of cool air throughout the house.

Ideally, you will have it inspected once a year by someone like Doctor Fix-It. However, inspecting it and making repairs prior to selling your home should be considered mandatory. It may also be a good idea to check the furnace and clean the ducts before you show the home to buyers.

Make Sure the Floors Are Adequate

Whether your home has wood floors or carpet, make sure that they are in good condition. If necessary, wax and clean the wood or put down new carpet in areas where it may be frayed or dirty. If you are going to replace your carpet, make sure that it is the same color and style throughout a given space.

Check the Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Buyers aren’t going to want to put an offer on a home that has poor water pressure. They are also unlikely to want to make an offer on a home that has dangerous electrical wiring. If the fixes to either system are relatively minor, you can do them yourself. However, it may also be a good idea to call a professional to make sure that the job is done safely.

Selling your home can be a great way to help you downsize or lock in profits. However, if the process is not done right, it could reduce the sale price of the home or result in the home staying on the market longer than you anticipated that it would.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.


Source: Ready For Staging: 4 Repairs You Need Before Selling Your Home

How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

Becoming a first-time homeowner takes a lot more than a desire to buy a house. It takes a lot of effort on your part to save up a down payment — which is usually a pretty good sized chunk of change — research neighborhoods, get pre-approved for a loan and other steps. Fortunately, it is quite possible to say goodbye to renting and hello to homeownership, especially when homeowners-to-be consider the following tips:

Focus on the Down Payment

In order to leave the land of rent, you are going to need a down payment — plain and simple. While it is common to put down 20 percent, some lenders now allow a much smaller amount, and first-time home buyer programs may go as low as 3 percent. While a smaller down payment may sound enticing, a 5 percent down payment on a $200K home is still $10,000 — not exactly a small sum. If saving money does not come naturally for you, don’t worry. With some relatively minor lifestyle changes you can speed up the down payment savings process. Come up with a savings plan to determine how much you need to set aside every week or month and then find ways to “find” that money in your budget. Using the $10,000 example from before, if you are determined to buy a home in two years, you’ll have to come up with about $415 a month to stash into your down payment account. Take a close look at your monthly bills and determine what you can pare down or eliminate — maybe you are paying $75 a month for a gym membership you rarely use, or you pay $40 extra for premium satellite channels that no one watches. These services can be cancelled and the money can go directly into your savings account. Eat out less, have Starbucks twice a week instead of every day and if you need to, consider a side hustle on the weekends to reach this magical monthly amount of $415.

Avoid Identity Theft

Unfortunately, the chances of becoming a victim of identity theft increase when you are buying and moving into a new home. The stacks of documents that are part of buying a home and that are filled with your personal information may accidentally fall into the wrong hands, and once you move, mail may not be routed correctly and thieves may steal your mail and your identity from your old mailbox. Prevent this situation from happening by purchasing an identity theft protection program; find a trusted company that will help safeguard your personal data. In addition to letting you know when a bank pulls your credit report and asking if you have authorized this inquiry, certain services will monitor your financial activity and alert you if anything is amiss.

Check Your Credit Report

When you start the pre-approval process for a loan and then move on to the Big Kahuna of applying for an actual mortgage, your credit report will be pulled numerous times. Your credit score will then be used to determine if you are approved for a loan, and what type of interest rate you will get. Please do not wait until you have the down payment saved and you are champing at the bit to go look at houses to check your FICO score — check your credit as early in the process as you can. If you have a credit card that has been issued through your bank, give them a call and see if they can run your report for you for free; in the cases of some credit cards, they also offer a free monthly FICO score check. Read through the report and check for any errors; this includes credit lines you never opened and delinquent payments that you know were made on time. Dispute any mistakes that you find and look for ways to boost your credit score, like paying down credit card bills and setting up automatic bill pay so you are never late with your payments.


Source: How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Home Ownership

How To Get Free Money Or Make Easy Money For Your Down Payment

How To Get Free Money Or Make Easy Money For Your Down Payment

Want to buy a house but short on cash to get the deal done? It’s a common problem that is keeping countless potential buyers on the sidelines. “Money issues often stand in the way of homeownership,” said Bankrate. “A survey by rental service Apartment List found that 80 percent of millennial renters want to buy a home, but most say they can’t afford to.”

A recent story in Apartment Therapy titled “How I Saved $40K in 5 Years for a Down Payment” piqued our interest. Their tip: Get a side hustle and sock all that money away. Those are some Impressive saving skills, but if you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t even want to wait five months, let alone five years”, we have some tips that can help. None of them are quite as hardcore as working a second job late into the night (but if you’re just that committed, more power to ya!). Instead, we’re focusing on ways to get free money or make easy money.

Get down payment assistance

Many people don’t think about looking for down payment help (beyond asking their parents, anyway). And many of those who do think about it don’t realize they might be eligible. Yes, many grants and other programs are specifically for low income borrowers, but others have surprising income caps that could spell the difference between buying now and having to wait a while.

“Grants and loans help you cover the upfront costs of purchasing a home,” said NerdWallet. In Nevada, for example, prospective homeowners can qualify for a grant of up to 5% of their mortgage to put toward a down payment and closing costs. District of Columbia residents can qualify for a down payment assistance loan of up to 3.5% of their mortgage. The loan needs to be repaid only if you sell, refinance or vacate the property within the first five years. Help isn’t reserved for low-income borrowers. Nevada’s grant program is available to those with an annual income below $98,500. The D.C. program caps income eligibility at just over $132,000.”

Move your money around

You may be aware of intro offers on credit cards that allow you to do a balance transfer to a lower (or zero) interest rate. While these are great options to take advantage of if you are trying to pay off an existing balance at a higher interest rate, be sure to check with a lender before you take on any new credit; if you’re looking to buy a house soon, this could ding your credit and make it harder to get a loan.

Credit cards aren’t the only place you can take advantage of great offers to save – or make – some money. Open a Chase Total Checking account and you could get a $200 bonus; a new savings account with them could add another $150 if you meet the requirements for both. Discover has a similar offer.

Sell your stuff

You might be shocked to learn how much you can make just by selling the stuff you already own – and probably don’t want to take with you to your new place anyway. Garage sales can yield a couple hundred dollars, depending on the crowd and the goods. Craig’s List is a great place to list items you don’t want to let go of for a couple bucks at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. Everything from gold and other jewelry to silverware and old phones can be listed online. Furniture, art, and designer clothing can fetch more money at a consignment shop.

Switch providers

Seeing great deals out there for cable/satellite and Internet that are far better than what you’re getting? Packages that offer super low prices to everyone but existing customers are frustrating. Don’t be afraid to look around, even if you’re planning a move in the next few months. Providers typically have a moving package that will allow you to transfer your service to your new address for free.

If you called your existing provider and you’re getting stonewalled, call again and ask for the loyalty department. Our recent call to DISH resulted in a $70 monthly savings and upgraded equipment at no cost. This was a far better deal ($65 a month better, and no $100 new equipment fee) than we were offered by customer service.

Ask your boss for a flexible schedule

Working from home one day a week can save on gas, tolls, and even daycare if you’re in a situation where your young child could behave while you’re working alongside her and your daycare will work with you on price for using them four days per week instead of five. Some employers will also allow you to work more flexible hours on a daily basis so you could leave in time to pick your child up from school and forgo after-school care. Letting them know you’re saving for a house may help elicit the cooperation you need.

Collect plastic bottles

If you drink bottled water and are accustomed to putting all the bottles in your recycling bin, collect them and sell them back to make a little extra cash. Will it be life-changing money? No. But it may be enough to enjoy a meal out here and there during your super-saving mode, or pay for a few knickknacks after you move. “The number of bottles that recycling centers will pay per bottle depends on the type of plastic, as well as how many you have,” said Small Business. “Michigan pays 10 cents a bottle whereas most other states pay anywhere from a few pennies to 5 cents for each bottle. Check with the recycling center that you intend to use for its rules. Some prefer that you keep caps on the bottles or if they don’t accept them at all.”

Negotiate your closing costs into the deal

This isn’t exactly free money because you end up paying for the closing costs anyway (albeit over 30 years), but if you’re a little short on cash getting in, adding the closing costs into the mortgage could get you where you want to go faster. Even better: If the seller will pay the closing costs! This could save you thousands of dollars upfront.

Research alternative mortgages

It could be that a different kind of loan than the traditional 30-year mortgage or FHA loan could greatly cut down on your down payment and also save you money monthly. USDA loans for homes located in certain rural areas may require no down payment. VA loans offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs “help active-duty military members, veterans and surviving spouses buy homes” with zero down payment, said Bankrate. HUD’s Neighbor Next Door program “is designed to encourage renewal of revitalization areas by providing an opportunity for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and teachers to purchase homes in these communities,” according to the HUD site. “HUD provides a substantial incentive in the form of a 50% discount off the list price of eligible properties.”


Source: How To Get Free Money Or Make Easy Money For Your Down Payment

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

We’re coming to the end of summer, and that means that families seeking to buy a new home before school starts have likely already done their thing. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck if you’re looking to sell. Whether you’re just getting ready to list your home or haven’t had any bites on your existing home for sale, these tips will get it – and you – moving.

Price it right

This is the most obvious, but also the most contentious, tip when it comes to selling a home. Everyone wants top dollar. But rule No. 1 about a house that isn’t selling is to lower the price. (Likewise, listing a house now at an unreasonable price likely won’t get you the sale you’re looking for, especially when kids go back to school and sales naturally slow down.) ABC News has a good piece on how to tell if your home is overpriced, but…if it’s not selling, and your showings are limited, and your real estate agent has already talked to you about this (maybe more than once, including when you first discussed the list price), you probably already know why it’s not selling.

Here’s how to get past the disappointment of having to list your home at a lower price than you want or lower it when it’s sitting on the market: Your ultimate goal is to get the home sold and get on with your life, right? Maybe that means buying a larger home. Perhaps you’re looking to downsize or even move out of state. Whatever your plans, you’re delaying them by letting your home stay on the market.

Every month it doesn’t sell is another month you’re in a holding pattern. And, it means you’re spending more money on carrying costs if you’ve already moved to a new home before your old one has sold. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what your happiness or peace of mind is worth. Chances are it’s more than the money you’ll miss out on if you sell for less. Once you’ve come to that realization, it should be easier to make a price adjustment.

Choose the right REALTOR®

Another “Duh” statement here. But the reality is that the right agent can make or break your sale. You may be inclined to list your home with a friend who’s just getting into the business or a cousin twice removed due to family pressure, but consider this move carefully. When you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars, you want to make sure you have someone in your corner who has the knowledge and experience to navigate professionally and successfully through every step of what can be a very complicated process. While your pal or relative may be eager, they might not have the depth of understanding of sales trends to strategize the best listing price, or the negotiation skills to get the deal done. The relationships a seasoned agent has with other industry professionals is also key to a quick and profitable sale.

Paint your front door

We all know the value of curb appeal, so getting your front yard in order is a must-do when listing your home. (If it’s not selling, perhaps a little more sprucing up out front is in order.) But don’t skip your front door while you’re trimming bushes and laying down new mulch. A refreshed (or new, if needed) front door regularly tops the list of improvements providing a good return on investment on the annual Cost vs. Value Report. It’s an easy DIY update, too.

But, before you run off to buy paint, carefully consider the color. Choose wrong and you could turn off buyers. Choose right and you could actually get more for your home.

“When it comes to paint color, homeowners may have reason to go back to black. Houses with front doors in shades of black – from charcoal to jet – fetched $6,271 more than expected when sold, said MarketWatch. “Pops of color are especially important for front doors. It often forms the first impression in a prospective home buyer’s mind and can determine how they will view the rest of the property when touring a home. A door paint in a popular color can help make buyers feel that the property is well cared for.”

Take half the stuff out of your closets

Yes, your overstuffed closet can kill a sale. If a potential buyer feels like they won’t have enough space for their stuff, they won’t be a potential buyer for long.

Put your personal stuff – and your personal taste – away

“Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. You’ll have to do it eventually anyway when you move, and buyers tend to have a hard time seeing past personal effects. You don’t want your potential buyers to be distracted. You want them to be able to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can’t do that if yours are there,” said The Balance. “This goes for furniture items, too, painful as that might be. Not everyone will share your taste, so if you have your bright red sofa screams, “I’m unique!” you might want to remove it for the time being. Try to stick with your more understated pieces.” 

Keep your emotions out of it

Selling your home can be an emotional experience, especially if it was your first home or it’s otherwise filled with memories. But emotions can get in the way of a home sale, and waylay your objective, which is to move up or move on.

“Once you decide to sell your home, it can be helpful to start thinking of yourself as a businessperson and a home seller, rather than as the home’s owner,” said Investopedia. “By looking at the transaction from a purely financial perspective, you’ll distance yourself from the emotional aspects of selling the property that you’ve undoubtedly created many memories in. Also, try to remember how you felt when you were shopping for that home. Most buyers will also be in an emotional state. If you can remember that you are selling not just a piece of property but also an image, a dream and a lifestyle, you’ll be more likely to put in the extra effort of staging and perhaps some minor remodeling to get top dollar for your home. These changes in appearance will not only help the sales price, but they’ll also help you create that emotional distance because the home will look less familiar.”


Source: 6 Surefire Ways To Get Your House Sold

Ready to Talk About Real Estate?

Ready to Talk About Real Estate?

Just the other day, it happened again.

I ended up face to face with a real estate myth I thought had been debunked out of existence in the last century.

And yet, there I was in a popular “resto,” waiting for my lunch companion and half listening to the two articulate couples chatting at the table behind me, when I heard it.

Like so many of us today, the two couples were raising lots of questions about what was up in the real estate market and concerns they had regarding what to do next with their homes. Then, one of them said: “I’d love to get the low-down on all of this from a realtor, but I’m afraid they’d end up selling me something.”

Mumbled agreement from the others ended their discussion.

Is that how you feel?

Do you shy away from asking a real estate professional about real estate because you think they may talk you into something you do not want to do?

If you don’t ask real estate professionals about real estate, who are you going to ask? Your best friend? Your grocer? Google? Siri?

Ask anyone or any digital thing about real estate and you’ll get an answer.

Everyone has opinions. Every digital resource from search engines to artificial intelligence technology can always spit out links to matching keywords.

But the real question is, “Are you receiving answers you can rely on because the information is directly relevant to your personal situation and your specific real estate requirements?”

Real estate professionals are among the few professionals who do not usually charge for answering questions or explaining real estate issues or terminology. Why not take advantage of this opportunity to enlighten yourself and verify the reliability of what you’ve picked up online?

In the process of chatting with professionals, you’ll probably meet a few you trust to understand your situation. When you’re ready to buy or sell, you will probably choose one of them to help.

When preparing to talk real estate, clarify exactly what you want to know and why you want to know it. Here are Six Conversation Starting Points to adapt to your situation and the real estate conversations you’d like to have:

1. Do you want to know specific facts about real estate?

If it’s factual information, like how listings or mortgages work, ask away and take notes. There is too much false or out-dated information online. Before savvy buyers and sellers act, they verify, with an experienced real estate expert or two, the accuracy of what has been discovered online.

2. Are you after details on your choices if you decide to sell or buy in the next six months versus next year?

Answers to queries like these would blend fact and opinion. Not even real estate professionals know exactly what will happen in six months, never mind next year. They can tell you what appears to lie ahead in the short term and what real estate forecasters project ahead. The key to understanding real estate is exploring how real estate market values are locally influenced relative to your specific property. That interpretation is what real estate professionals can help you with. Ultimately, you’ll need to arrive at your own opinion of the economy and what may evolve, so talk to a few professionals to sample a cross-section of perspectives.

3. Do you want to know what’s going to happen with interest rates?

Amazingly, real estate professionals do not know exactly what is going to happen to interest rates over the months and years ahead. They do understand the financial services industries and monitor economic patterns, so some may feel confident offering educated guesses in the short term. Many will explain what the current situation is, what the implications are for possible changes, and include other details which would provide you with background to form your own opinion relative to your situation.

4. If you’re not social media or tech savvy, don’t shy away from talking to real estate professionals who are both.

They may be very useful in helping you understand the advantages and disadvantages of online real estate sources and using calculators and other digital tools, relative to your real estate ownership. Just keep in mind that they are busy professionals working hard for their clients, and they are not teachers. Since most are committed to helping consumers receive the information they need to make confident decisions, real estate professionals often have suggestions on third-party resources that can help demystify online real estate content and online practices.

5. If you don’t know whether you can afford the next real estate step you’d like to take, don’t shy away from talking to real estate professionals.

Real estate professionals are not debt counselors, investment advisors, or estate planners, but they do understand how real estate and money fit together. Most are very good problem solvers and creative thinkers, who

have well-developed resource networks to call on. They will each have had different experiences with income-generation, co-ownership, and other real estate options. All this adds up to a lot of possibilities, so your persistence pays off.

6. If don’t know exactly what you want to do next, don’t shy away from talking to real estate professionals.

Most of them concentrate on specific neighborhoods and consumer lifestyles, so when you discover a professional who’d consider you a match for their expertise, they may guide you in your search for choices. Again, talk to several for a range of ideas and experience. We are all pioneers in this never-before-in-history time. Make sure you avoid assumptions and explore all available options. Perhaps, you’ll invent one or two for yourself. Look for those who feed your curiosity with their own.

The vast majority of real estate professionals are honest, hardworking people who are eager to assist you. That said, and in view of the encouragement above, I add a note of caution: In every profession, there are wide ranges of professionalism, ethics, commitment to developing expertise, focus on staying current, and honesty. The real estate industry is no different.

Always act in your own best interest. Take notes or record conversations for future reference. Meet in the real estate brokerage, so you gain first-hand experience with the business supporting the real estate professional. Protect your personal information and privacy. When in doubt or if you feel uncomfortable, leave. These usually-short conversations should be enlightening and enjoyable.


Source: Ready to Talk About Real Estate?

Don't Let Your Home Search Break Your Heart

Don't Let Your Home Search Break Your Heart

For those who are house-hunting, it can be a whirlwind romance that’s hot from the minute you see the home’s curb appeal. But don’t let the seduction of a good-looking landscape make you want to tie the knot without a bit of courtship.

House-hunting for the “perfect” home in many ways is like looking for that perfect romance – very seldom does everything about your proposed mate match your desires. Things you love at first may later get on your nerves and become what you don’t like so much later on. Does that mean the house is wrong for you? Not necessarily. It could be, but if you understand your tolerance level–what’s most important to you in a home, and what you can’t deal with at all – you are less likely to want to buy the wrong home.

Keeping these terms clearly defined and always on your mind will help you make smart choices even when some areas of the home tug at your heartstrings and say “buy me!”.

House-hunting should be like dating. Take your time. Understand the critical must-haves, the not-so-important-but-I-kind-of-want-it, and the no-way, not-going-to-happen-in-this-lifetime.

One thing you can do to help streamline the process is to start making a list about the things you like about your current home. If you’re renting, there may be features about the home, apartment, or planned-living development that you want to find again in the neighborhood where you’re going to buy your home.

For instance, you might want a gated community or a townhouse that has certain luxury amenities. Moving to an isolated home that doesn’t have the same type of amenities could be a real turn-off. Also, it might mean you have to pay more to get those same amenities that used to come with your rent. While this might not be a deal-breaker, it can certainly change the way you’re used to living your life.

So, be sure to take it into consideration. Walking a short distance down the street to go to the gym, the pool, the steam room will be different from having to drive 20 minutes or more to go to a gym/spa that you also have to first pay an extra monthly membership.

Another thing to consider is how many times you’ve seen the home. Just like dating, you might have an instant attraction, but the more times you see your date, the more you discover. With a home, (just like with a prospective mate!) you need to see it a few times and at different times of the day.

This way you’ll discover which rooms are dark and when or how loud the traffic is during rush hour. You might notice that there’s a lot of commotion around the neighborhood because of nearby schools. Does this work with your lifestyle? Viewing a home and the surrounding neighborhood at various times of the day can be an eye-opener and can reveal just how much this home is a match with your lifestyle.

Just as you wrote down the things you like in your present residence, you should also make lists of things you want to avoid in the future and new things you hope to gain.

Remember, courtship doesn’t have to last forever. Just as with romance, “the good ones will be gone if you wait too long!” So put a ring on… or rather, put an offer on that house!


Source: Don't Let Your Home Search Break Your Heart

Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

We’ve all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you’ve been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation — and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues — are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you’ve done your research and still aren’t confident in the movers you’ve come across, you always can go the DIY route — just be sure you’re up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won’t do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, don’t rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven’t laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to “edit” your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven’t seen, worn or used something in a year, it’s best to think hard about whether you need to keep it — and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks — or, better yet, months — in advance. You don’t want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you’re supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

You’ll find very few people who’ll say that packing is fun. In fact, a survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who’d moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won’t need right away — for instance, if you’re moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they’re out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you’ve got plenty of food and beverages as a “thank you” for your volunteer helpers. If you can’t rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.

Need help finding that perfect storage unit? Click Here


Source: Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

The 6 Most Important Things Every Senior Should Ask Their Real Estate Agent

The 6 Most Important Things Every Senior Should Ask Their Real Estate Agent

Seniors who are looking to buy a new house, apartment or condominium can often have great luck by working with a real estate agent. A professional real estate agent can not only help seniors find the properties they are looking for but close the deal on the home of their dreams. According to the AARP, there are many seniors who purchase homes even after they have retired.

However, there are so many different factors that go into finding the right senior living arrangement. This is why any elderly adult looking to buy a new home needs to be prepared and know some of the most important questions to ask their real estate agent. The following six questions are essential to helping any elderly adult find the home that fits their needs now and into the future.

  1. 1. “What is the turnover like in the area I’m looking in?” For most seniors looking to buy a home, they are considering purchasing a property that is going to be more of a short-term home. This likely won’t be the “forever home” they bought when their children were growing up. Anyone looking to buy during their retirement years should make sure they talk to their real estate agent about the neighborhood they are looking in and how that neighborhood is performing. It should be a place where they feel confident they can quickly sell again if they need to.
  2. 2. ”What is the demographic of the area?” Most seniors are going to want to be in a neighborhood where they can enjoy being around their peers. Chances are, you won’t want to be surrounded by young people who will be up all night or families with lots of young kids running around. A real estate agent should be able to provide this type of information for anyone looking to buy a home.
  3. 3. “How safe is the area surrounding this home?” While looking at a home, it is important that you ask the real estate agent for more information on the neighborhood or area you are considering—especially when it comes to safety. Many seniors who buy after retirement are living alone and it is important to make sure that the home they will be living in is safe.
  4. 4. “Are there any additional fees?” Fees such as HOA costs can make up a majority of a monthly mortgage payment and seniors need to be fully aware of what these fees are before they get too set on a home. For example, seniors looking to buy into a retirement community, need to be clear on the additional costs and HOA fees that go into this purchase. Speaking of HOAs, seniors who are buying in a HOA community should be clear on what things are and are not covered with the association including shoveling the sidewalks or any exterior maintenance.
  5. 5. “How much are the property taxes and utility bills?” For seniors who are happily retired and no longer working, it is important to make sure that any home they buy is well within their budget—so they don’t have to worry. While a home may seem affordable on paper, it is important to be clear on the cost of property taxes and what the current owner is paying for their utilities. An agent should be able to secure this information for any prospective buyer.
  6. 6. “Are there any warranties on the property?” Before buying a home, seniors should make sure they have as much information as possible on the property, including what appliances are new and if they have any warranties as well as structural improvements or big-ticket items like the roof. It is important for most seniors to be able to find a home that will require very little work and upkeep. While older homes do have a lot of charm, they are also going to require a lot of work—especially when compared to newer properties that are still covered by certain warranties.

Buying a home as a senior can be a rather complex undertaking. Seniors have a great deal to think about when buying a new home as they need to make sure it not only meets their needs now, but that it is a place they can comfortably age in place in well into their future. Any older adult buying a home not only needs to keep these questions in mind, but make sure that they are partnering with an established real estate agent that has worked with seniors in the past.


Source: The 6 Most Important Things Every Senior Should Ask Their Real Estate Agent

Hard Money Basics: What Everyone Should Know About These Loans

Hard Money Basics: What Everyone Should Know About These Loans

When it comes to real estate lending options, there is no shortage of different types of loan products available in the market today. However, one of the most common, and often most misunderstood, are hard money loans. If you aren’t familiar with these loans they are a unique type of lending opportunity that can help both buyers and investors get the financing they need.

These transactions are most commonly used in fix-and-flips, rent-stabilize-refinancing deals, cash-out refinancing, land scenarios, construction deals, bankruptcy or foreclosure payoffs or transactions when the deal is particularly time-sensitive. In fact, one of the biggest perks of using hard money loans is how quick they are when compared to traditional banks.

So, What Exactly Are Hard Money Loans?

Hard money loans are fast—but there is more than that to these lending options. Simply put, hard money loans are an alternative to a mortgage and are designed for borrowers who need money quickly and who only wish to hold on to a property for a short period of time. Hard money loans can be used in a variety of settings, but are perhaps most common for those taking on fix and flip projects and who want to invest in real estate in an effort to make some quick cash.

Typically, these loans are meant for short-term only (most commonly 12 months), but that doesn’t always have to be the case.

These loans are also becoming a popular option for borrowers who are unable to get a conventional real estate loan. Lenders do not use a traditional underwriting process, and instead look at every situation individually. For borrowers who have had foreclosures or issues in the past, this can be great news as many hard money lenders won’t even look at the borrower’s credit history—they only concentrate on the property that is being invested in.

Hard money loans are financed by private hard money lenders. Typically, they are private individuals or small groups that lend money to those who need it. Since these loans aren’t funded by a bank, they are typically much more flexible.

The Loan-to-Value Ratio

When you apply for a hard money loan, chances are you will hear a great deal about the loan-to-value ratio. Hard money lenders will lend money based on the property you are buying, instead of your credit score and background. Instead of looking at assets or equity alone, the primary thing the lender will look at is the property being purchased. This is the main collateral that the lenders will use. This does make it riskier for lenders so they will typically look for a loan-to-value ratio of around 50-75%.

The term “value” in the loan-to-value amount is actually based on what the lender could expect to get for the property in a one to four month selling time. This is why these loans are so popular for fix and flip properties.

Important Facts About Getting a Hard Money Loan

If you think that a hard money loan may be the right option or you, there are a few things you should know about the application process and what goes into securing one of these loans.

The first is that the applications are simpler. Everyone who has ever gotten a mortgage before knows how complex a mortgage application can be. The good news is, hard money loan applications are much simpler. This also means they can be approved much faster. In fact, many of them are approved in just 24 hours. Closing can typically happen within 10 days.

However, while hard money loans are significantly easier to get than mortgages, lenders are still going to need some basic information. This includes:

–    The location of the property
–    Recent appraisals
–    Inspection data
–    Purchase price of the property
–    Planned resale price of the property
–    Estimated remodeling costs—if applicable
–    Borrower’s credit score
–    Total assets and income of the borrower
–    Level of real estate experience from the borrower

Once you are fully aware of what goes into a hard money loan and how it may be able to help you secure the finances you need—it is time to find a hard money lender. The good news is, there are many hard money lenders out there that are available to provide those who need it with the financing they are looking for.

Hard money loans aren’t for every situation, but they are a very popular and very reliable form of financial backing for those who need to quickly and easily get a large sum of cash.


Source: Hard Money Basics: What Everyone Should Know About These Loans

What Do New Home Buyers Want? The Surprising Results

What Do New Home Buyers Want? The Surprising Results

When it comes to new home design, are current floorplans and features meeting or anticipating buyers’ needs? A recent survey of future homebuyers – those who intend to purchase within 10 years – from Florida, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia builder Ashton Woods produced some interesting responses that could influence how new home builders approach home design and how buyers respond to them.

While we can review the survey results with a liberal grain of salt, knowing that different buyer segments in different areas may have varying wants and needs – and also knowing that what people say they want prior to buying, and what they end up choosing when factors including budget and practicality are woven in at the time of purchase – the Ashton Woods survey is still useful in examining what may be shifting buyer preferences.

Here are some of the, perhaps surprising, results of the survey.

Buyers are over white kitchens. Or, at least, they don’t top their must-have list. “All-white kitchens are now second choice,” said the Washington Post. “The survey found an overwhelming majority of buyers prefer natural wood cabinets for their kitchen, pushing white cabinets to second place followed by distressed wood cabinets.”

Buyers would trade bedroom space for more living space. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed had this preference!

Bye bye, bonus rooms. Buyers still want bonus space, but they want it to match their lifestyle pursuits, and they’re willing to pay for it. Think hobby rooms personalized for yoga, crafting, or wine tasting. “76 percent of the homeowners surveyed said they would spend extra to incorporate a hobby room in their next house,” said the Washington Post.

Home offices remain a priority across all age groups. Almost 70 percent of those surveyed want a designated space, not just wireless capabilities that allow them to work on the couch or at the kitchen table.

Additionally, “Personalization is a priority. When choosing a builder, 75 percent of those surveyed said they are more likely to select a builder that offers design options, and 67 percent said they are willing to pay more for those options,” said Professional Builder.


Source: What Do New Home Buyers Want? The Surprising Results

The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

It’s summertime and you’ve been thinking about selling the house. The weather is great which makes it easy to show your home, and the kids are out of school to help you pack everything up (or just eat ice cream and watch you do it).

If you’re wondering the best time to sell your house and want to take advantage of the current sellers market, then we’ve got the answers for you below.

When to List to Get the Best Price and Sell the Fastest

Every day real estate surges forward with a new abundance of real estate tech tools. These tools are the building blocks of the future of real estate and help to predict the temperature of the market.

We’ve used one of these tools to give you the best time to sell your house based on cold, hard numbers.

If you need to put your home on the market now, you’re in luck. Nationwide housing market data shows August as the best time to list a house in order to get the highest sale price. August was the best time to list overall from 2014 – 2017. Real estate transactions often take a few months to close, which means that homes listed in August will most likely close in November. Homes that closed in November over 2014 – 2017 sold for 4.04% higher than the national average.

If you want your home to sell quickly, aim for a close date this month or a close date in August. Overall from 2014 – 2017, homes that closed in July and August closed 7 days faster than the National average.

You can also predict the best time to sell your house in your local market by searching your city and state in this tool and state in this tool. For example, the best time to sell a house in Las Vegas is the Summer, aiming for a Fall close date.

Current State of the Market: Sellers Hold the Cards

If getting out while it is good is your goal, then it may be in your best interest to sell your house now. Currently the nation is in a sellers market, which means that the demand for homes exceeds the number of homes on the market. Basically, there are more buyers in need of homes than there are people selling.

The problem is that some people are predicting a cooling of the real estate market in 2018. According to USA Today, home buying may be less accessible in 2018 because of higher interest rates and rising home prices. The National Association of Realtors predicts interest rates around 4.5-4.6% for this year.

If you need to sell, it might be best to list the home now for fear of the market leveling off and a big loss of buyers in 2018.


Source: The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract

Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract

You have just found your dream house, and would like to buy it. What do you do now?

When dealing with real estate matters, the law is clear: everything has to be in writing. Thus, you will need a sales contract, which will spell out all of the terms, conditions and special requirements which you may need in order to conclude the transaction and go to closing (settlement) on the house.

If there is no real estate agent involved, your attorney should be able to assist you in preparing the contract offer. If there is a real estate agent, you can get a form sales contract from the agent. In fact, the agent should be able to assist you in preparing the document for presentation to the seller, although your attorney should review it before you sign.

. Typically, the buyer makes a written offer to the seller. The seller has three alternatives:

1. The contract can be accepted;

2. The contract can be rejected in its entirety, or

3. The contract offer will be countered, with different terms.

It is rare that the seller will opt for alternatives one or two; in most cases, the potential buyer will receive a counter-offer. Then, the buyer has the same three alternatives.

There are certain things which must be included in any sales contract.

1. The property must be clearly identified, preferably by street address.

2. The contract must be contingent upon your obtaining financing. You should allow yourself some time — usually 30-45 days — in which to make application from a mortgage lender and get a written commitment that you have been approved for the loan.

3. Unless you are an experienced contractor, it is advisable you make the contract contingent on your obtaining a satisfactory home inspection. You should give yourself 5-7 days after the contract is signed to have the property inspected. If you are not satisfied for any reason after you receive a written report from the inspector, you should have the right to terminate the contract, and get back your earnest money deposit. Although another option is to give the seller three days to let you know if any or all of your issues will be corrected.

4. How much earnest money should you put up when you sign the sales contract? There is no magic formula and no law dictating a certain percentage of the purchase price. When you sign a contract, in order to make it a valid, legal document, the buyer should put up some money as a good faith earnest money deposit. These funds will be held by the real estate broker or the settlement attorney until settlement takes or until either the buyer is entitled to a return of the deposit (because the contingencies cannot be met) or the buyer is in breach of the contract, in which case the moneys would go to the seller.

Real estate agents and brokers usually ask that the buyer put up 10 percent of the purchase price as this earnest money deposit. However, buyers can put up more or less, so long as the seller agrees with the amount. Indeed, in many real estate contracts, the earnest money deposit consists only of a promissory note signed by the buyer, to be redeemed at the settlement itself.

Buyers should understand that although everything in real estate is negotiable, the earnest money should be large enough to convince the seller that you are seriously interested in going forward with the purchase. I usually recommend this deposit be approximately five percent of the purchase price.

5. Finally, the contract should be contingent upon the buyer obtaining — no later than the date of settlement — a “termite” letter. This is a report from a licensed pest inspection company indicating that the house is free and clear of termites and other wood-boring infestation. Some contracts require the seller to obtain and pay for this report; other contracts put the burden on the purchaser. Either way, this is a critical report which all buyers should receive — and carefully review — before settlement is completed.

Many of these contingencies are time-sensitive. You — as buyer — have so many days in which to get financing and so many days in which to complete the home inspection. Mark your calendar with these due dates, and make sure you act on these contingencies before the time has expired. Otherwise, it will be too late and you will be legally bound to comply with the terms of the contract, and proceed to settlement.


Source: Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract