Category Archives: General

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/.



5 Surprisingly Smart Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays

Turkeys and tinsel, dreidels and pumpkin pie. Yes friends, the holidays are here again, and it’s the perfect time for … house hunting? OK, we know you’re busy enough planning family feasts and much-needed vacations while dealing with blustery weather, but hear us out. While it might seem counterintuitive to put a big-ticket item like a home on your holiday shopping list, it really does make sense.

Don’t believe us? Check out these surprisingly smart reasons to let everyone else hit the mall to buy half-off sweaters while you make the purchase of a lifetime: a new house to ring in the New Year.

1. Less competition from home buyers

Most buyers take the month off to celebrate the holidays, attend parties, host out-of-town guests and, quite frankly, avoid trudging around in inclement weather to look at houses. Or, maybe they’ve heard that this is a lousy time to buy a house. Whatever the reason, shopping for real estate at a time when fewer buyers are in the market can pay off big.

That’s because competing with multiple offers is one of the most stressful parts of the home-buying process, says Brian Wasson, a real estate broker with Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

2. Motivated (OK, desperate) home sellers

The December seller is likely to be serious and motivated—and therefore more open to negotiation. So what you might lack in choice of available homes could be balanced out by dealing with a more flexible seller.

Most sellers have a compelling reason for putting their house on the market during the holidays. (Let’s face it: It’s no holiday party for them to have strangers wandering through their house.) They might be facing a relocation and want to get their kids settled before the new term. Or they might just be feeling some stress if they listed their home in the fall and it’s still languishing post–Turkey Day, making them just a little more desperate and anxious to deal.

Many sellers might also want a contract in hand for tax advantages. If it’s a rental property on which they incurred a loss, they are likely to want to take the deduction this calendar year, Wasson says.

Another tax-related reason: If sellers are likely to make a hefty profit and have a salary raise set to kick in on Jan. 1, they might be subject to a higher capital gains tax on their home sale in the coming year. In this scenario, sellers may want to unload a property before the new year.

Sellers are exempt from paying capital gains tax on the first $250,000 in proceeds from a home sale for a single person, or $500,000 for a couple. After that, the capital gains tax kicks in, based on their income bracket.

3. Tax advantages

In case you weren’t aware, the tax benefits go both ways, notes Realtor® Al Cannistra with Texas Premier Realty in San Antonio. Buying now can help you save in April and beyond. Homeownership brings numerous tax perks, from deducting mortgage interest to property taxes. (Update: The House of Representatives just passed its version of the GOP proposed tax plan, which would cap the property tax deduction at $10,000. The House bill also would only allow homeowners to deduct the interest on mortgages up to $500,000, down from the current $1 million.)

Some states also might have a homeowner’s tax exemption, says Cannistra: “If your state does, closing the deal by Dec. 31 rather than waiting for the first week of the new year can make a year’s difference in whether or not you get that valuable tax savings.”

Also, many closing fees are tax-deductible if you itemize—although you should always double-check with your accountant about any tax questions.

4. A realistic picture of the house

What house doesn’t look amazing in the typical spring buying season, with newly planted flowers and plenty of sunlight streaming through the windows? Checking it out during the miserable winter season, on the other hand, might give you a more accurate idea of what you might be living with the rest of the year.

In addition to seeing the house, warts and all, you can check for issues that you’d notice only during cold weather.

“Maybe there’s a bedroom in the home that doesn’t get sufficient heat, or the front door gets jammed in icy conditions,” says Wasson. “Inspectors are less likely to catch these issues with the home when they check them out of season.”

Of course, don’t forget that issues that crop up more during summer will be less accessible—such as how well the air conditioning works or what the roof really looks like under all that snow and ice—so make sure that your home inspector does a thorough job on those fronts, too.

5. Greater accessibility to professionals

“Since December is usually a slower month all around, you will have easier access to movers, inspectors, and mortgage brokers,” says Jennifer Sommers with Sotheby’s International Realty in Boca Raton, FL.

In addition, motivated real estate agents will bend over backward to provide service with fewer client demands and will share your desire to get it done and in the books before the new year rolls around.  Ditto on your mortgage broker, who is bound to speed your closing through.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/reasons-to-buy-a-home-during-the-holidays/

Original Date: Nov 16 2017

Original Author: Cathie Ericson

Gantner: Ask these questions before choosing a Realtor

Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime.

The median home price for homes in Williamson County in June was $280,000. If you had a $280,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a certified public accountant? If you had a $280,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a licensed real estate professional is just as foolish.

Now, it is important to know that all real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of Realtors are properly called Realtors.

They proudly display the Realtor logo on the business card or other marketing and sales literature. They are committed to treating all parties to a transaction honestly. And most importantly, they subscribe to a strict code of ethics and maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate.

But how to do you find a Realtor? This can be a very daunting process even if you’ve bought or sold a home multiple times. First off, this is not a time to be shy and reserved; this entails one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime.

Some questions worth asking:

How long have you been in real estate? Are you looking for an agent that got their license yesterday or someone with a little experience under their belt? This is something to really consider. A more experienced agent should know the market better, know the programs available and be able to network your house. However, that doesn’t mean a new agent should be immediately discounted.

How long have you lived in this area? Another important question. You don’t want an agent who lives over an hour away helping you. An agent who has lived in the area for years might know more than an agent who has only been here for a couple years.

Do you have a team, or do you work alone? Understand expectations. Will you be communicating with only the agent, or are they going to pass you off to an assistant or another agent on the team? Don’t discount either option; just know what you are getting before signing that contract.

What is your schedule? Real estate is seen by many as a part-time job, and as such, it’s great to know if the Realtor you are hiring can only take phone calls after 6 p.m. and on weekends. You do not want to miss an opportunity finding your dream home because your agent is working another job. Also see if your agent is taking time off in the near future, and if they will work remotely in that case.

How will you market my property? Or how will you find my new home? There are many multiple listing services in Central Texas, and knowing if your Realtor belongs to one or more is very important. The more listing services an agent is a member, the wider the exposure. Many members of the Williamson County Association belong to two listing services: the Central Texas MLS, covering numerous counties including Williamson, Bell, Lampasas, Hays, Comal and Caldwell; and another covering Travis and Williamson counties.

Again, this is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your life. Ask your friends and family for names of the agent they worked with, and if they were satisfied. Interview more than one agent, find out their style, do they return phone calls and how late or early will they answer the phone.

If your friends do not have any recommendations, visiting wclife.org is a good place to start.

I wish you the best of luck whether you are buying or selling real estate.

Original Source: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/gantner-ask-these-questions-before-choosing-realtor/qvIPMTOEfNdKU85XsywcLI/

Original Author: Suzanne Gantner

Original Date: July 12 2017

More Americans Think It’s a Good Time to Sell a Home

With home prices zooming up with no end in sight, a record number of Americans think it’s a good time to sell a home.

About 61% of folks said there was no time like the present to put a home on the market, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey for May. That’s the highest percentage it’s been since Fannie began the survey in June 2010. (Fifty-seven percent of participants said it was a good time to sell in April.)

The monthly survey polls 1,000 Americans with more than 100 questions on their attitudes toward owning and renting a home, price changes in the housing market, and the health of the economy.

However, those high prices don’t mean that homeowners are going to rush to plant “For Sale” signs in their front yards.

“They [still] have to find a new place to move,” says Sarah Shahdad, a market insights researcher at Fannie Mae. “If they don’t see an affordable buying opportunity, they might be hesitant to list their homes for sale—even if they think it’s a good time to sell.”

The bank account–busting price tags of properties are also leading more people, about 33%, to think it’s not a good time to be a home hunter. That’s compared with 27% who thought it wasn’t an ideal time to buy in April.

“People who think it’s a bad time to buy are concerned about high home prices,” Shahdad says. “The supply of homes is tight, which is pushing up home prices.”

And nearly half of Americans, 48%, believe those prices are going to get even higher compared with just 8% who think they’ll go down, according to the survey.

That makes sense as prices are usually the highest during the warm-weather months, when competition is the fiercest. That’s because many folks want to move in the summer, before the kids go back to school.

“As long as the supply remains limited, that’s going to push home prices up higher,” Shahdad says.

Original Source: http://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/good-time-sell-a-home/

Original Author:

Original Date: Jun 7, 2017

Is Spring The Best Time To Sell or Buy a Home

Popular opinion would have you thinking that the only time your home will sell is during the spring.  Although spring is a super exciting time in real estate, it isn’t necessarily the only time you should consider selling your home.  The spring season is known to bring out buyers and sellers alike.  With the onslaught of buyers and sellers it is important to note that there is more competition.  Note that more sellers’ means more homes to choose from; more buyers mean more competition to get top dollar for available inventory.

In some situations it makes sense to wait until the spring but it isn’t necessarily the only time to consider buying or selling a home.  There are many reasons to consider listing your home right now.  Consider the following:

  • Work Relocations: The first quarter of the year is known for people relocating for work.  Changes are made to adjust for work load, retirements, and such.  Sellers are looking to move their homes quickly while promptly looking to purchase a home.
  • Fewer Homes for Sale: Selling in the winter when there are fewer homes for sale can work in your favor. A smaller inventory of homes means that your home will receive a lot more attention.
  • More Agent Attention: Fewer homes that agents are marketing allow the agent to spend more time on your listing.
  • Fewer Showings: When your home is listed outside of the spring season the number of showings your home will have is sure to be less.  The quality of home buyers is increased during slower times in real estate therefore the quantity of people that will be less.  The benefit to you, less work in keeping your home up to date and clean.
  • Quicker Home Sales: Home buyers that are out searching for their dream home in the winter are motivated.  There is no wasting time going in and out of home after home.  It is cold, buyers are inspired to shop quickly and get into a new home and out of the cold.

If you are thinking about selling your home there is no need to wait until April.  Now is the perfect time to meet with a real estate agent to start discussing what needs to be done to get your home listed.  This will give you ample time to hit the market before the spring rush and hopefully get you out of your home and into a new one just in time to enjoy the nicer weather.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com.

Helpful Tips For Buying Your First Home

Purchasing your first home comes with many trials and tribulations.  In the first year after closing there are many valuable lessons to be learned.  Here are some things to think about as you begin the process of going from renting to buying.

Think About The Future:  When buying your first home it is easy to get caught up.  At the time you can’t imagine that you will ever need to sell this home you are about to start building your future in.  This however can’t be further than the truth.  The truth is the first home you purchase will most likely not be the last one you purchase.  No matter where you are at or what stage you are at it is important that you take into consideration how difficult it will be to eventually sell when you are ready for the next step.

Checklist:  When you are purchasing your first home, second or third, you will find it is quiet an emotional process.  It is quite possible to overlook things when your emotions start to take over.  Before starting your adventure into buying your first home create a checklist of must-haves, nice-to-haves and other essentials.  Print the list and take a copy with you to each and every house you visit.    Also bring with you a camera.  If you fall in love with a home but with your checklist and photos show that the house doesn’t have any of the must-haves then at least it will make you rethink the purchase?

Budget For Housing Expenses:  When considering what you can don’t just consider the principal, interest, taxes and insurance.  You must take into account the amount you will spend on utilities, home improvement upgrades and costs to commute.  Can you afford the house, the extra expenses while living the life style you have become accustomed to?

Look Into The Neighborhood:  Check out the neighborhood.  Is it a neighborhood that is full of children and growing families?  Do you enjoy the chitter-chatter of kids or will it drive you crazy?  Is the neighborhood full of older adults whose families have grown?  Did you plan on having kids?  Will the lifestyle you are considering for your future fit within the existing neighborhood?

Look Beyond The Staging: We all think we are smart enough that we will not fall for the tricks that are used in staging however the psychology of staging works.  Homes look better when they are occupied.  When you are truly looking to say yes to a home it is important to remove the staging setup from your mind and consider your belongings in the layout of the home. Just because lights are sitting on the nightstands doesn’t mean that there are plugs there to go with it.  Staging can play games with your emotions.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com.

Tips For First Time Home Buyers

As a first time home buyer you often don’t have any idea what to expect.  In this installment we will establish steps to take in order to determine if you are ready to take the plunge into home ownership.

Consider the area that you are looking at buying.  Check out the selling price of comparable homes in the area.  You can do this by looking at the MLS listings in the area or on a number of online real estate websites.

Find an online mortgage calculator to determine your monthly mortgage payments.  Many realtors have bankrate home loan calculators on their sites in order to allow clients to estimate the payment they can expect monthly on various mortgage amounts.

After you have determined an approximate monthly mortgage payment it is important to look into the total monthly costs to operate the home including taxes and insurance.  In some situations homeowners have found that the money going into escrow can often double the monthly payment amount.

Determine how much your mortgage lender requires in closing costs.  The upfront expenses of the home loan should never be overlooked.  Closing costs can include a variety of fees including: origination fees, title fees, settlement fees, taxes, homeowner association fees and other prepaid expenses.

Consider your budget and consider how the house fits into the puzzle.  Most lenders recommend that homebuyers spend no more than twenty eight percent of their take home income on the cost of housing.  When buyers move upwards to thirty percent they take a chance on being house poor.  Being house poor means that you no longer have extra funds to spend on anything other than your home.  This is a risky spot to be in and should not be considered a way of life for the long term.

Talk to a local realtor to discuss the climate of real estate within the area that you are interested.  Do they believe that the area and housing prices will continue to increase, will the decrease or will they stabilize?  There is no guarantees on the housing market but the trends of the past can help indicate future behavior.

Consider the larger picture of homeownership.  Buying a home is a super investment and great way to build wealth.  First time homebuyers need to understand that maintaining this investment can be not only be intensive labor wise but also on your budget.  It is important to remember that no longer can expenses be passed off to the landlord.  When something breaks down it is yours and yours alone to fix.

These are just a few of the things for first time homebuyers to look at before they buy a home.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com.