I am Ready to Buy My First Home. Where Do I Start?


The industry is saturated with information for first time home buyers.  It is often a bit overwhelming when you are trying to gather initial information on where to start, who to turn to, and what to expect.  In order to be fully prepared to find, finance, and move into a new home it is crucial to be prepared.  Planning for a major event such as buying your first home is one of the best ways to remove the stress and anxiety that usually comes with it.

The first step to buying your first home is the one you are taking right this very moment, research.  As soon as you get the inkling that you want to start looking into buying a home start reading as much reliable information as you can get your hands on.  Websites, newspapers, industry magazines, and real estate books can all provide good information.  It is also appropriate to start perusing listings to note the time that homes you are interested in are staying on the market.  For research purposes take note of changes in asking price as well, all the information gathered at this point gives you a better sense of current housing trends. 

The next step that we recommend you take is to speak with a mortgage broker to determine how much of a house you can afford.  This can be a little tricky.  It is not always wise to spend as much on a new home as you qualify for.  Most home buyers want to still be able to live comfortably while owning a home.  Trust your instincts when you are determining a housing budget. 

More often than not lenders will approve buyers for between three to five times the amount of their annual income for a threshold.  Most buyers will have a twenty percent down payment and will carry other debt.  This amount usually holds this in account.  Ex.  If you are currently making $25,000 a year and your spouse is making $55,000 a year this puts you at a total income of around $80,000 a year.  This means that lenders may feel comfortable lending you between $240,000 and $400,000 to purchase a home.  This doesn’t take into consideration your down payment however does give you some figures to start with. 

When you meet with a mortgage broker than can start the process of getting you prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage.  This will give you a definite answer to how much you are approved for and can actually spend on your new home.  In order to start this process, you will need to provide your mortgage broker with financial paperwork such as documents on income, savings, investments, and debt.  Through this process brokers will reach out to a variety of lenders to verify your financial status, credit, and figures on borrowing from them.  Each lender will have different requirements, rates, and so forth.  A mortgage broker works as a middle man between you and the lenders to find you the best rates and terms. 

Next you will want to find a local real estate agent to work with like C21, Lady of the Lakes out of Pinckney, MI.  A realtor is an important piece of the home buying (and selling) process and will be your biggest advocator throughout the process.  Agents are not only full of useful information on homes, neighborhoods, schools, and such, they are also important to you during negotiations.  Also, it is nice to note that realtors are not compensated by the buyer and instead are paid a commission from the seller of the house.  This means you pay nothing for their professional advice.

Real estate agents are important partners when you’re buying or selling a home. Real estate agents can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable. And best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything to use an agent – they’re compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house.

After you have hired an agent comes the task of finding the perfect home to call home and make an offer.  When you are touring homes it is important to bring along a camera and create a checklist.  This will help in keeping the different houses straight.  After seeing as many houses as you will see during this process it will be hard to remember the pros and cons of each.  Document as much as possible along the way. 

When you find a home, you think you could be interested in do a more thorough examination of the space.  Test the plumbing by running all the faucets at one time to get a feel for the water pressure you can expect.  This will also give you a good assessment of the hot water in the home. Next test the electrical outlets.  It is amazing how many times we go into homes where not all of the electrical switches or plugs are working properly.  This could be an electrical issue inside the home, so it will save you money to discover it before paying for a professional home inspection.  Another element to look at is the windows, doors, and attic/roof.  Check to make sure doors and windows properly shut and seal and that attics are without mold or water issues. 

If you haven’t already, take a look at the neighborhood.  Check to see how well other houses are maintained.  Evaluate the amount of traffic through the neighborhood, parking, and accessibility to shopping, schools, and more. 

Relators will help throughout this process by supplying you with data on how much comparable homes nearby have sold for.  This will help you to negotiate a fair asking price when you have decided on a home to put an offer on.  When you have reached an agreement with the seller on a fair price, the home will go into what is known as escrow.  At this point you will have a number of days to get an inspection, make changes to the offer, and complete the home purchase process.

Most banks will not lend to first time home buyers, or any home buyer for that matter, without first having their investment properly inspected.  All offers are written in a manner known as contingency.  This means that the offer is contingent on the inspection.  If the inspection goes poorly or items are found that need to be repaired, you will have time to renegotiate or withdraw your offer without penalty.

Once the inspection has been finalized and the home repairs (if needed) have occurred it is time to get your financing in order.  Your mortgage broker already has in place the preapprovals that you were given earlier in the process.  This makes the process of selecting a home loan quicker.  Lenders will give you a good faith estimate at this juncture that states what you can expect the monthly payment to be, taxes included, the time you are borrowing the money for, along with the rate at which you are borrowing funds.  It is important as well to understand the type of mortgage you are getting. There are a few options including: Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, Adjustable, and so on.  Mortgage lenders will often send in a home appraiser to ensure that they are making a solid investment in loaning you the amount of money they are for the home. This ensures you are paying a fair price. 

At this point a lot of paperwork is shuffled between real estate agents for the buyers and sellers along with the lender, closing, and title company.  This is all necessary to make sure ownership of the home transfers properly.  Once all parties have reached an agreement a closing date will be set. 

At closing you will complete a final walk through of the property, sign closing documents, and exchange the keys.  Some sellers negotiate a time between closing and when they have to vacate.  If this is the case with the home you are purchasing, the seller will rent the home from you until the agreed upon move out date and then you will receive the keys to the home on that final date.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



6 Presale Home Improvements Sellers Wish They’d Never Made

smart-home-reno-regrets
narvikk/iStock

Every seller wants their home to stand out from the crowd, and that often means beefing it up with shiny new improvements before putting it on the market. But sometimes owners go overboard, and the repairs become more costly and time-consuming than they’re worth.

To help you learn from others’ mistakes, we gathered real-life stories of home sellers who woefully regret the presale renovations they took on.

Regret No. 1: Going too trendy

Photo by Sweetlake Interior Design LLC

Beware of falling for decor fads when it comes time to pretty up your home.

“I had a seller whose home’s original lighting fixtures were pretty standard brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, circa the 2000s,” says Monica Weddle, a real estate professional in Raleigh, NC. “They were nothing offensive, just boring.”

The seller, thinking the home needed more of a “wow” factor before she put it on the market, swapped out all of the perfectly serviceable lights for bold midcentury fixtures, to the tune of around $2,000.

“That’s great if you’re sure your buyers are going to love that style,” says Weddle. “But her eventual buyers didn’t. In fact, they made an appointment for the day after closing to replace every single one.”

Regret No. 2: Smart house, dumb decision

We live in a plugged-in era, but living in a house surrounded by technology is not everyone’s cup of tea.

“One seller of mine decided to make his home high-tech and had the lighting, window shades, and sound system all controlled from his phone,” says Steven Gottlieb of New York’s Warburg Realty. “He paid a lot of money for these expensive bells and whistles. But none of the prospective buyers who came in cared.”

Instead, buyers were all focused on the space itself—and the lack of light and poor views.

The eventual buyer turned out to be a person interested in tech and smart homes. But by the time the deal closed, he felt the apartment’s technology was outdated and therefore wasn’t interested in paying extra for the existing features.

Regret No. 3: Adding a guesthouse

Not every home shopper dreams of bringing in extra income by renting out the guesthouse. Joel Bennett of the vacation platform of Tokeet.com found this out the hard way when selling his first house in Merida, Mexico. His real estate agent convinced him finding a buyer would be tough, so a week after listing the home, he made the rash decision to renovate the detached guesthouse to function as a vacation rental property, thinking this would add value.

He spent about nine weeks—and $3,000—on the project while the property was on the market. The exterior was painted, interior floorboards were resurfaced, and the stairway was replaced.

“I did a lot of the work myself, since I had a bit of free time back then,” says Bennett, who was proud of the restored space.

“Then some eccentric character approached my real estate agent with an offer right on the nose,” says Bennett, who accepted the offer. But lo and behold, the buyer ended up demolishing the guesthouse.

To add insult to injury, Bennett says the buyer put in “a swimming pool where the guesthouse stood with a gaudy stone wall waterfall at the shallow end.”

Regret No. 4: Rehabbing the roof

At first blush, rehabbing a major system in the house—like the roof—may seem like a no-brainer way to attract a buyer. But it’s not always worth it.

“I worked with sellers who were told by numerous buying agents that if they replaced their roof, then they could sell their house quicker,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Georgia’s Breyer Home Buyers.

Without talking to their own agent, the sellers tore off the roof and installed a new one—a decision that cost $11,390. When the project was done, the house sat on the market for months, despite the brand-new shingles.

“To move the property, the sellers ultimately had to reduce the price by $17,000,” Breyer says.

Not only did the roof not make a difference in the home sale, but the decision to sink money into the repair led to a total loss of $28,390.

What the sellers should have done, according to Breyer, was to look at the recently sold houses—not just those that were listed—in their area to determine what to fix or leave alone.

Regret No. 5: DIYing to cut corners

Some home improvements are better left to the pros. It’s a lesson Debra Carpenter learned the hard way when she put her first house up for sale.

“I thought I was going to easily flip it for a giant profit,” the Idaho-based real estate agent says. “Instead, I made all kinds of unneeded improvements that didn’t increase the home’s value. They only narrowed my profit margin!”

Her biggest mistake was purchasing four “granite-look” painting kits to redo the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms on a budget.

“It turned out terribly—gray and black paint blotches that looked nothing like granite,” says Carpenter.

The counters all had to be redone, costing thousands of dollars more than she had originally budgeted.

Regret No. 6: Opening Pandora’s box

It’s common to want to complete some home improvements before putting your house on the market, but doing so might plunge you head first into a mess of expensive repairs.

“I had a seller who wanted to renovate his two-family home before putting it on the market,” says Carola Encarnacion of New York’s DJK Residential.

The seller wanted to install new insulation throughout the home, despite the contractor’s warning that gutting the walls could lead to plumbing problems.

Sure enough, the difficulties started piling up. The seller had to install a new sprinkler system throughout the entire house to meet new building codes. This ended up costing thousands of dollars, and the seller did not receive a good return on the investment.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/pre-sale-home-improvements-sellers-regret/

Original Date: Dec 3, 2018

Written By: Margaret Heidenry

The Very Best Real Estate Advice of 2018 That You’ve Just Gotta See Again

advice-2018-review

Navigating the home-buying and -selling process is kind of like diving into “Game of Thrones” for the first time: People speak in a language you don’t quite understand. There’s backstory you should research before you get started. And ideally, you’d have someone by your side who knows what’s coming and who can guide you through the experience.

Yes, buying, owning, and selling a home comes with its own share of drama and plot twists. But rest assured: We’re here to help guide you! That’s why we’ve doled out so much expert advice over the past 12 months on every possible real estate topic we could think of.

But what was most useful to you? In no particular order, here are our most-read advice pieces of 2018—the greatest hits that resonated with you the most and (hopefully!) have helped make your real estate journey a little less overwhelming. (Just click the headlines to read the full story.)

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do

Does anyone actually like the tedium of home maintenance tasks? We’re doubtful. (Although if you’re out there and single, call me!) But when you’re a homeowner, regular—and monotonous—maintenance comes with the territory.

And sure, you might think you know what you have to do to keep your house in order—mow the lawn, clean the gutters, sweep your chimney. But we guarantee there are some small things you’re overlooking—things that can create big problems and enormous repair bills.

Can’t-miss tip: Clean your refrigerator drip pan. Your what now? If you didn’t know your fridge has one of these, you’re not alone. It turns out, like with belly buttons, we all have one—and it can get pretty gross (and moldy) if you don’t clean it regularly.

But to clean your drip pan, first you have to find it. Just remove the kick panel at the bottom of your refrigerator, then use a flashlight to trace the defrost drain line to the pan. Pull out the pan carefully (it could be full of water), then empty and wash it with an all-purpose cleaner.

5 Mortifying Reasons Mortgage Applications End Up in the ‘Reject’ Pile

Don't let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.
Don’t let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

You’ve scrimped and saved for your first home, and you’ve already mentally moved in. But then, in a cruel and humiliating twist of fate, your mortgage application is rejected. How could this happen to you, of all people?

According to a Federal Reserve study, 1 in 8 mortgage applications (12%) is rejected. And often those rejections are the result of something you could have easily avoided.

Can’t miss tip: If you’re a Venmo-only kind of gal, or you’ve avoided using credit cards (debt’s bad, right?), it’s time to rethink your fiscal approach and swipe that plastic.

Credit cards allow you to establish a credit history—proof of a strong track record of paying off past debts. (Of course, don’t forget to actually pay those bills.) Without that credit history, lenders will likely be reluctant to fork over loan money they can’t be certain they’ll get back.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets—and What If You Don’t?

Get thee to a laundromat.
Get thee to a laundromat.iStock; realtor.com

Quick: When was the last time you changed your sheets? If you can’t remember, we won’t judge—you’re in good company (38% of Americans wash their sheets less than once a week). But after you read this, you might want to strip your bed, pronto.

This year, we launched a series where we put all aspects of home ownership under a microscope—literally. In “According to Science,” we take a look at the scientific reasons behind what’s happening in your home, the weird stuff that can be avoided, and, in this instance, what’s lurking under your covers.

“Body oils, sweat, and sloughed-off skin,” answers Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “We live in a world of pathogens, and not all are virulent enough to take us down. But can bedclothes spread disease? Kind of.” Yuck.

Can’t miss tip: We’ll let you read up on the bacterial Armageddon that’s happening every day you don’t wash your sheets. But if you want to slow down the invasion, just make a simple adjustment to your bed-making routine: Each morning, pull all the covers down from the fitted sheet and let things air out for a few minutes. This lets the sweat and moisture evaporate from your sheets.

7 Mistakes People Make Handling Deceased Family Members’ Estates

Don't make these mistakes.
Don’t make these mistakes.Punkbarby/iStock

This one might seem macabre, but dealing with a deceased family member’s estate is, unfortunately, a part of life. And not an easy one: Figuring out what to do with your loved one’s property and possessions, all while you’re grieving, can feel like a one-two punch. So it’s understandable that mistakes happen. We ID’d the biggest ones to avoid during this turbulent time.

Can’t-miss tip: When you’re going through a loved one’s belongings, it’s easy to overvalue the sentimental stuff and undervalue the things that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than unwittingly letting go of something rare and valuable, talk to an appraiser before you get started.

How Much Below the Asking Price Should You Offer on a House? Answers Here!

“I’d love to pay more for that house than I have to!” said no one ever.

Every home buyer wants to score a deal, and the most obvious place to start is with the house’s sticker price. Offering below asking is a common tactic, but not one that always works. How low can you go before you offend the seller—and ruin your chances of landing your dream home?

Can’t miss tip: In the same way you should know how long that leftover chicken parm has been in your fridge, you should know how long any house you’re eyeing has been on the market. If you’re familiar with the property history, you can get a better idea of demand for the house—and whether the listing is getting stale.

“Two days on the market? Probably not a good idea to go in with a lowball offer $50,000 below asking price,” Jennifer Carlson of Coldwell Banker in East Greenwich, RI, told us. “A whole year on the market, with price reductions? Go ahead and roll the dice. The longer a house has been on the market, the less of an upper hand the seller has in negotiation.”

The number of days on market is public on most online listings, and if not, any good real estate agent should know.

7 Decluttering Myths That Could Derail Your Dreams of an Organized Home

Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?
Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?iStock

Decluttering seems like the last thing you’d be able to screw up. Isn’t it just sorting and tossing?

Well, sure, that’s a big part of it. But a good decluttering session (yes, there’s good and bad) hinges on more than just purging. And if you go into decluttering mode assuming you know how to do it right, you could end up with more stuff than you started with.

Can’t miss tip: We’ve been conditioned by organizing gurus like Marie Kondo to keep only the things that “spark joy” and to toss everything else. We don’t disagree entirely. But realistically, some exceptions should be made.

“Let’s be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it’s an essential item that is used every day in my home,” Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, told us.

Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time for it to go.

The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House

What dark secret is your home hiding?
What dark secret is your home hiding?iStock

You know the one. You’re touring a home, loving every aspect of it, and then bam! You turn a corner and see a space that just kills the whole home-buying mood.

Can’t miss tip: Got an empty room? You might think it’s a selling point: Look at all that space! The buyers can envision themselves in your home without your stuff in the way!

But “empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” real estate analyst Allison Bethell told us.

A room without furniture leaves the buyer wondering if it’s unnecessary space. Plus, any imperfections will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, crafts room, or guest bedroom.

The Pros and Cons Of Buying a Home in the Winter


In order to successfully buy a home during the winter season it is important to understand the pros and cons of the situation.  When buying a home in the winter both sellers and buyers must be flexible and patient with one another when it comes to viewing properties and choosing a closing date. Never feel pressured to buy a home that isn’t exactly what you want.  If the inventory you are looking for isn’t there in December, maybe it will come available in January.

Winter can be a perfect time to buy a home even though not the traditional time to do so.  Buying a home during the winter season can prove to be cost effective for savvy, patient, buyers.  Below are some tips to making the most out of buying a home right now.

Understand the Pros

No matter what season you buy your home in there will be pros and cons, the winter season is no exception.  It’s important to view the challenges and benefits of winter home buying.  One benefit of winter house hunting is the decrease in competition.  Fewer buyers are out searching and there fore there is more room for negotiations.  During the winter there are fewer bidding wars and home prices are on closing, on average, for $3,100 or less.

Another advantage of buying a home in the winter is the speed at which you can go from finding the home of your dreams to closing on it.  Sellers are motivated to move, and buyers are ready to settle in.  With fewer homes on the market to view the decision-making process becomes a bit more limited and therefore the focus is more directed. 

Recognize the Cons

The major down fall with purchasing a home in the winter is that it is a mess.  The temperatures are not conducive to be in and out of the car and house all day.  Snow, puddles, and ice can be difficult to navigate.  The property can’t be completely viewed in all its glory when snow is covering decks, patios, and driveways.  Buyers must rely on photos or video taken when the snow was not covering the landscape.  The home inspection must also be done in the winter and thus certain aspects like the exterior of the home will not be able to be as thoroughly examined.  Make sure you hire an inspector that has experience in winter home inspections.

Be Flexible

The winter season is filled with holidays which we already know can be a stressful time of year. Even the most motivated seller can find themselves unable to drop everything to be prepared for a walk through. Be flexible in your scheduling of viewing homes, inspections, appraisals, and so forth. 

Research, Research, and More Research

It is important to ask for documentation for work that has been done around the home.  Find out when the roof was last replaced, when windows were last updates, furnace maintenance performed and so on.  This will give you an understanding on when you should expect upcoming repairs to be needed.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



The 4 Key Trends Home Buyers and Sellers Should Watch in 2019

We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.

And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you can get a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.

The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.

1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones

We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.

While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.

“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist.

“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”

Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.

We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; Worcester, MA; Boston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.

2. Affording a home will remain tough

It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?

“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”

Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.

3. Millennials will still dominate home buying

Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.

As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.

And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.

“They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.

So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.

There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.

4. The new tax law is still a wild card

At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.

This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.

Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.

“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”

Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.

The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.

“If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/real-estate-trends-expect-2019/

Original Date: Nov 28 2018

Written By:

Embracing Winter When Selling Your Home

There really is no reason to wait until spring to sell your home if you find yourself ready right now.  The winter weather doesn’t have to give you pause.  In fact, if years past is a predictor of the future, selling your home during the winter months has gotten easier.  This is especially true as the inventory for homes continues to struggle to meet buyers demands, leaving home buyers to seek out homes throughout the year and not just during the spring and summer seasons.

When placing a home up for sale during the winter it may be wise to avoid marketing your home for sale during the holiday months.  November and December are filled with the chaos of the holiday season and therefore it can be quite stressful to have realtors and potential buyers in and out of the home all the while you are preparing to entertain.  There are many reasons not to wait until spring to sell your home and instead to list it for sale at the beginning of a new year including:

Winter Home Buyers are as Serious as Winter Home Sellers

Winter home buyers prove how motivated they are to purchase a new home each and every time they layer up to go house hunting.  Think about your motivation even with the idea of opening up your home for walk throughs even though the beauty of the snow has faded into the muck of melt.  Winter sellers and buyers are some of the most serious, motivated individuals.  They are ready to find what they are looking for if only to prevent having to trek out and about in the cold once again.

Days on Market Means Less in The Winter

Although there are fewer buyers throughout the winter months, their motivation is higher and therefore they are less concerned with the frivolous details that can lose a sale such as the number of days the home has been on the market.  During spring, a home that has been on the market over 50 days gives buyers the impression that something is wrong with the home.  This criterion however is not the same for homes for sale in the winter where homes are expected to be on the market a bit longer just because of the decreased number of buyers looking.

Lack of Competition

Let’s face it, there are fewer homes to choose from in the winter, so the competition isn’t quite as fierce as it can be in the spring and summer months.  Home sellers are most likely looking to sell their home because they have found one, they are interested in purchasing.  Negotiation when a contingency is in place may be more acceptable during the winter months where there are fewer buyers competing to buy your home.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/

‘The Best Mortgage Advice I’ve Heard, Ever’

When it comes to mortgages, there’s an avalanche of advice out there—some good, some bad, and some that’s flat-out great. You know, the type of wisdom that makes you so grateful you heard it, it sticks with you and gets passed along to all who care to hear it.

With the hopes of delivering only these golden nuggets of wisdom, we asked homeowners to tell us the very best mortgage advice they’ve been lucky enough to learn. You won’t be sorry you read this!

Keep your monthly mortgage payment under one paycheck

“This might seem pretty simple, but I was once told not to freak out so much about the total cost of the mortgage, but to make sure that when all is said and done, I could handle most if not all of the monthly payment in one paycheck. That has worked out really well for me and my husband, especially because we work in media, which is unstable. But with a low mortgage payment, we know that whatever happens, we can handle it.” – Starrene Rocque, Brooklyn, NY

Shop around for the best interest rate

“My brother told me to shop for the best interest rate, even if it means that I had to get quotes from more than five lenders or brokers. At first I resisted, not only due to the hassle, but because I didn’t want those companies individually pulling my credit report, since I’d heard this type of ‘hard’ credit inquiry would drag down my score. He told me that a credit pull for mortgage purposes within a set period of time only counted as one hard credit inquiry. His suggestion helped me get the interest I needed and will save me a lot of money in the long run.” – Allan Liwanag, Lexington Park, MD

Multiple quotes can help with more than just interest rates

“When I first started shopping for homes, my real estate agent advised me to start the application process with more than one lender by filling out online financial forms for my top three. Though I was initially hesitant because of the extra time it would take to fill out the paperwork, doing so set me up for multiple interest rate quote estimates. Plus, the lenders knew I was serious and [were] in competition for my business, so they were especially prompt and attentive in answering my questions and returning my calls. The interest rates I qualified for were all comparable, so I ended up going with the lender that was the best communicator, which is worth its weight in gold when getting a mortgage.” – Rebecca Graham, Provo, UT .

Lock in your interest rate for as long as possible

“I bought my first home in 2016, a bankruptcy sale. Even though the listing agent and the attorney both told me that the escrow would last no more than 60 days, my agent recommended that I lock in my mortgage interest rate for the longest time possible, 90 days. It is a good thing I did, because my escrow ended up taking five months! Since I locked in the rate for the longest time allowed, the bank accommodated my situation and I didn’t lose my great rate.” – Goldie Winge, Los Angeles, CA

An ARM is a risk—even if you think you’ll move soon

“In 2007, when purchasing my first property, I anticipated owning the house for three to five years max. This led many mortgage brokers to say I should get an adjustable-rate mortgage or, ARM, since they had lower interest rates than fixed-rate loans, and besides, I’d be long gone before the interest rate on my ARM ballooned. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns about not wanting an ARM, no matter how enticing the low interest rate. Although I’d planned to move, the economy and life caused me to adjust my original plan and stay put in the house much longer than I thought.” – Nerissa Marbury, Katy, TX

Make extra mortgage payments whenever possible

“Although you only have to pay a certain amount for your mortgage each month, pay extra when you can. You would be shocked at what even one or two extra payments per year can do over the length of a loan.” – Dave August, Point of Rocks, MD

Get a mortgage that allows you to save for retirement, too

“The best advice I’ve gotten was to get a 30-year fixed-rate loan, even though I could have afforded the higher payments of a 15-year loan. Why? My lower payments bought me a ton of flexibility. I’ve been investing the difference, and it’s been quite rewarding. I figure that if I invested that extra $1,000 each month in stocks that earned 7 percentage points over the 3.5% interest on my loan—I’d be about $100,000 ahead over the seven-year period that I’ve held the loan.” – Kathy Kristof, Los Angeles. CA

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/best-mortgage-advice-ive-heard-ever/

Original Date: Nov 12 2018

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Selling Your Home During the Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us!  Some of us are seeing snow flurries, the cold temps have settled in, and you need to sell your house!  While most of us are busy preparing for family gatherings, feasting on festive meals, and wrapping last minute presents some of us are preparing to relocate.  Yep, you probably guessed it, the holiday season is not ideal to be selling or buying a home for most of us.  Our plates are already too full and the last thing we want to be doing is having people trekking through our homes in wet boots.  It is also not an ideal time due to the already abundant financial and emotional stresses that find most of us during the holidays.

This is how the experts at Century 21 Lady of the Lakes can help!

Asking Price – Price Your Home to Sell

If you are trying to sell your home during the madness of the holiday season it is not time to over price your home.  Listen to your realtor, they know what they are doing when it comes to pricing your home to sell.  Buyers often have the luxury of waiting until the warmer weather approaches if they think your asking price is too high.  Buyers have the option to keep looking, do you have that same luxury?  All sellers want to sell their homes for the highest price possible, however it is important, especially given the time of year that you listen to your realtor.  They know what you can expect based on the current market, the sale price of other homes in your area, and the amenities your home has to offer.

Incentives

Create an environment that is open and inviting.  Offer buyers incentives to buy your home and deal with moving in the winter.  Consider updating the appliances in the kitchen or covering the buyers closing costs.  Sellers concessions and improvements to the home are just some of the many ways that you can make your home more appealing to buyers.

Decorate – Festive Displays

Buyers want to be able to picture themselves living in your home, so create an environment that does this for them.  Create the holiday spirit by staging your home with all of your very best décor.  Create curb appeal with outdoor decorations, fill the house with festive smells, and create a space that buyers cannot resist.  A space where they can totally immerse themselves in as their own.

Use the Weather to your Advantage

As miserable as it is to have people trampling through your house, think about the buyers who are trekking in and out of homes day after day.  Of course, this would put even the jolliest home buyers in a bad mood, so it is your job to make sure that doesn’t translate into how they feel about your home.

You can help create a more positive vibe by creating a warm, welcoming space.  Light candles, start a fire in the fireplace, provide warm beverages, and homemade treats.  The longer they linger in your space, the more likely for it to feel like their space.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.

6 Reasons Why Selling a House in the Winter May Be the Best Decision Ever

Spring is generally the most popular time of year to sell a house, with hordes of buyers looking to move into a new place before the school year begins. But if you decide to sell your home during the winter, experts say you could reap a reward in cold, hard cash.

“I have personally had my best months in real estate during the holiday season, so the idea that the markets are very tough to sell in the winter might be a myth,” says Emil Hartoonian, managing partner of The Agency in Beverly Hills, CA.

He’s not the only one who believes selling in the winter can make you a real estate winner. Read on for the top reasons why you should consider unloading when the temperatures drop.

1. Low inventory = less competition

Since spring is the most popular home-selling season, the housing market is ultracrowded with options at that time of year. And if you paid attention during Econ 101, you understand the law of supply and demand.

“Most sellers still think they need to sell in the spring, but that means there is more competition for buyers’ attention,” says Matt Van Winkle, founder of Re/Max Northwest in Seattle.

But in the winter, there are fewer homes for sale. That competition over low inventory can make winter an ideal time to sell your home.

“In the Atlanta market, January is one of the strongest months for homes to go under contract,” says Ally May of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s.

2. You get to show your home’s winter-readiness

Selling in the winter also gives you the opportunity to show that a home is designed to handle the harsh elements.

“Sellers in places like Lake Tahoe can show off features like a south-facing driveway to speed up snow melting, how snow will fall off of a roof, a short driveway that will minimize shoveling or plowing, heat tape on the north side of the roof to avoid snow accumulation, and how recently the roof and furnace have been replaced,” says Sandy Soli, regional manager at Engel & Völkers in Lake Tahoe, NV.

Plus, during winter months, homes with features like fireplaces and hot tubs are certainly more appealing.

3. New parents may be looking to upgrade

The baby boom in September may lead to more buyers later in the year. According to data from the Center for Health Statistics and the Social Security Administration, there are more birthdays in the month of September than any other time of the year. Therefore, there’s likely to be a crop of growing families looking to buy a larger house.

“Once baby is home and settled, these parents may want to start the year in a new, and more spacious, family home,” according to Melissa Temple, real estate adviser and partner at Engel & Völkers in Aspen, CO.

4. Winter brings out the serious buyers

News flash: Not everyone looking at houses intends to make a purchase. Some people are contemplating moving and may just want to see what’s on the market. Since more homes tend to go on the market in spring and fall, this is also when window shoppers are likely to be out looking.

However, these looky-loos tend to be scarce during winter months, according to Jennifer Baldinger, licensed associate real estate broker at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Scarsdale, NY.

“When I have buyers looking for homes in January and February, they’re real buyers looking to make a purchase—especially if it’s a great house. They don’t want to take the chance of waiting until spring and losing out on the home,” Baldinger says.

“There may be less people at these open houses, but I would rather have 10 real buyers come through than 20 people who are just curious,” she says.

5. Year-end financial bonuses and payouts

As a seller, year-end performance reviews could mean that more people have money to spend on a home.

“End-of-year financial bonuses or workers retiring with large payouts could mean opportunities for these buyers to upgrade their living situations or for first-time buyers to enter the housing market,” according to Temple.

6. Corporate relocation

You could also encounter buyers who are relocating for a job.

“One of the biggest months for corporate relocation is January/February, so those buyers, who need to move quickly, are out in full force looking for new homes,” Baldinger says.

Relocators typically have a limited amount of time to uproot their families and, as a result, don’t have the luxury of spending a lot of time looking at properties. The kids need to get settled into school, and dealing with selling their old home can add another level of urgency and stress. So it’s likely that once they find a home that meets their requirements, these buyers will be ready to sign on the dotted line.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/reasons-to-sell-a-home-in-winter/

Original Date: Oct  8 2018

Original Author: Terri Williams

Problems and Solutions to Common Issues in Real Estate

If you want a job in an industry where everyday is different and no two transaction are ever the same, you into real estate.  A boring day just doesn’t happen when you are working daily with a wide variety of people and personalities.  As much fun as it is to work with several different types of people on a regular basis, there are some challenges that can arise when working to find a buyer their dream home or a seller who is selling more than just a home, but an abundance of memories as well.

Common Real Estate Problems and Solutions

  1. Market Conditions That Are Not Ideal

Realtors do not have control over local real estate markets.  It is inevitable that local real estate markets will have ups and downs that need to be dealt with.  The longer you are in real estate the more you will see the market conditions fluctuate. The market conditions will play a huge role in if a home sells or not and if it sells at, below, or above the average market value. Realtors must understand and recognize if they are currently dealing with a sellers or buyers’ market.  The advice that you offer to your clients will make a huge difference in their perception and the outcome of the transaction.

  1. Emotional Sellers

Many times, the sale of a home can be quite emotional.  Real estate agents will get the full brunt of the emotion’s sellers are feeling during this process.  A wide range of emotion is felt from sadness, stress, excitement, uncertainty, and nervousness.  Selling a home is a time of mixed emotions for homeowners and you as their agent will need to help them overcome the feelings that they are having to get to the point of sale.  It will be important to remind the sellers of their initial motivation to sell, the benefits that come from the sale of a home, and how these play into their situation.  It is important not to become invested emotionally yourself in the sale of any home so that you can remain impartial throughout the process.

  1. Listing Price

There are many sellers and buyers out there that will take your recommendation when it comes to putting an offer in on a home or listing their home for sale.  However, there are times when people will feel like their home is worth more than it is or that a lower offer is better for later negotiations.  Price points are the biggest challenge most realtors will face with their clients. It is important that you as the realtor educate your clients with concrete evidence and current stats to validate your reasoning.   Point out how long comparable houses have stayed on the market and the difference in pricing points.

Most of the time real estate professionals can work out issues with their clients by listening to them and providing concrete information to reassure them.  Proper wording and empathy can often overcome any challenge that arises to help facilitate a compromise.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.