Category Archives: In The News

Franklin Realtor shares 8 tips for purchasing land

When shopping for a home to buy, it’s fairly easy to see warning signs as you walk through the house. Typically, good things such as a new roof or HVAC system and bad things such as water damage from leaks or the smell of mildew can be apparent.

But what about when you are in the market for land and there’s no house on it? Do you know what to look for? Is it worth even looking at an entire piece of land, or can you just go by the photos online?

Franklin Realtor Tim Thompson, who is often referred to as “the land man,” has some great tips on how to buy land and who to buy land from.

Purchasing land is similar to buying a home, but different,” Thompson said. “One thing people need to do when looking at land is walk through it just like you would a house.”

He said the biggest mistake people make is not walking the land. He advises people to ride the with your Realtor, but then ask if you can go back and walk it.

“You need to find all the corners,” Thompson said. “See who your neighbors are. Look over the fence line. The last thing you want to do is buy a piece of land that has a big sinkhole in the middle of it.”

Below are Thompson’s tips on how to get the most out of a land purchase. Everything varies by county and state, but many of these tips cover any piece of land, no matter where it’s located.

1. Look at land in the fall.

Thompson says in the fall and winter when the leaves are down, it’s often much easier to see what’s around you than when the trees are in full bloom.

2. Ask about easements and restrictions.

Too often, Thompson says, people buy land assuming they can do whatever they want to on it. That’s not the case. “Sometimes there are deed restrictions on land that restricts the size of house you could build or ways you can use the land, so you should always check that by going to the county in addition to asking your Realtor.”

Thompson added that there can also be unrecorded easements, so it’s important to ask about that as well. “There have been times where one farmer will give another farmer the right to cross his land,” he said. “Maybe this has been going on for 15 years. Sometimes agreements like that can come back to bite you.”

3. Get a survey.

Anything larger than a 5-acre tract of land needs a new land survey, Thompson said. “You never know if someone crossed over the property line and built a barn or something. Another person’s property can be on your land and nobody knows it until a survey is done. Be sure to make sure the property isn’t in a flood zone as well. A survey will indicate that.

4. Have a larger down payment.

Banks typically won’t do loans on land for the same down payment as a house. “Banks typically want more like 25 percent down, so it’s important to be prepared for that.”

5. Build in due diligence time.

Thompson advises writing a minimum of 14 days of due diligence time into any contract, so that you have time to do your research before you sign. “It could be that it’s a tract already approved by the county, but I recommend up to 30 days due diligence period to check on water, septic and sewer. Fourteen days would be the bare minimum.”

6. Use a Realtor familiar with land sales.

Thompson said because land purchases are different than home purchases, it is important to buy land from a Realtor experienced in selling land. “I get a lot of contracts from agents that don’t know how to sell land, which is fine, but I have seen contracts where the Realtor didn’t ask for a survey or a due diligence period. I see it all the time. Realtors don’t always know how to sell land.”

He advises leaning on referrals from friends who have purchased land or looking online to seek out Realtors with a lot of land listings.

7. Be prepared to wait.

If you buy land in Williamson County with the intent to build a home on it, Thompson advises that it can be a lengthier process than many might expect. “If you buy property that isn’t already approved, there is a very long wait period to get approval to build on it. It can be a good year before you can put one brick in the ground.”

8. Check perk-ability.

If a piece of land doesn’t have sewer service, the soil underneath the ground can dictate what you are able to build. “Just because you have 50 acres doesn’t mean you can build whatever you want,” Thompson said. “If the soil on your land is clay, it won’t soil test out well and you may not be able to build a five-bedroom house, but be limited to a three-bedroom house just because of the soil.”

Thompson advises always doing a preliminary perk test with a licensed soil scientist in the area before buying land.

Original Source: https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/homes/2018/06/11/franklin-realtor-shares-8-tips-purchasing-land/686272002/

Original Date: June 11 2018

Original Author: Melonee Hurt

 

Ask the Realtor: Why the highest offer isn’t always the best one

Home-For-Sale-Sign-Real-Estate
Sellers should ask their realtor to create a spreadsheet to compare offers more easily. Adobe Stock

You are ecstatic because you have received seven offers on your home, many of them over the asking price. Your initial reaction is to choose the highest, but wait. The highest offer isn’t always the best one. You should scrutinize every bid before you make this important decision.

For example, if you receive an offer well above the asking price but the buyer has only a 5 percent down payment, this could become a problem if the bank does not appraise your home at the proposed purchase price. If the buyer can’t put more money down to bridge the difference between the offer and the appraised value, the deal could fall apart or have to be renegotiated — at a lower price. A slightly lower offer with a bigger down payment could be more appealing.

Have your agent show the components of each offer on a spreadsheet. Here are some conditions, other than price, that you will want to consider and possibly renegotiate:

■ Closing date

If closing at a particular time is important to you, make sure the date on the offer aligns with your desired one.

■ Inspection

You may find that one buyer wants one, but the other has offered to waive it. What do you do? This is something to discuss with your agent, but it’s often in your best interest to take the lower offer without the home inspection contingency. If the inspection is waived, there will be no further negotiation prior to signing the purchase and sale agreement. If it is not waived, but you see the phrase “inspection for informational purposes only,’’ the buyers still will be having an inspection, but are using language to suggest that they will not try to renegotiate afterward. This however, is not always the case, and creates uncertainty for the seller. Also, by the time this happens, your property could be off the market for up to 10 days.

■ Cash or no financing contingency

Most sellers believe a cash offer is much better than a financed one, and many times it is. A cash offer may come in lower, however, because some buyers rationalize that if they are paying cash they can offer less. With a cash offer, your agent must make sure that the buyers submit a proof of funds, such as a recent letter or statement from a financial institution.

In my opinion, waiving the financing contingency can be just as attractive as a cash. This has become quite common. Most buyers cannot afford to pay cash, but they know their financing will be approved, and they want to do everything they can to make their offer as attractive as possible. This also means that they would forfeit their second deposit (typically 5 percent) if the financing does not come together.

Waiving this contingency also includes forgoing the bank appraisal (unless they have stated otherwise). If you decide to accept one of these offers, your agent should call the buyer’s lender to make sure the buyer has secured financing if the appraised price comes in lower.

■ Escalation clause

Such a clause states that a buyer will pay a certain amount over the highest bona fide offer that does not contain a home sale contingency. Not all agents use these, but I think they are a great way for buyers to ensure their bid stands out in a competitive situation. It’s also a way for a seller to make more money. Let’s use $5,000 as an example. Once all offers are reviewed, the seller’s agent contacts the agent who submitted an escalation clause, forwarding him or her the highest offer (and redacting all personal information). The buyer has a certain amount of time, normally half an hour, to accept or reject the highest bid, plus the $5,000 escalation. So if the highest offer is $525,000, the buyer must agree to $530,000. An escalation clause also permits the buyer to say no if the highest offer is too high.

Whatever you end up doing, remember that every term is negotiable — and as a seller you are in the driver’s seat in this market. A sharp seller’s agent will compare and leverage all offers to achieve your desired pricing and terms. This is the fun part, so enjoy.

Original Source: http://realestate.boston.com/ask-the-expert/2018/05/10/why-the-highest-offer-isnt-always-the-best-one/

Original Date: May  10 2018

Original Author: Marjorie Youngren

Fact or Fiction? 6 Down Payment Myths You Should Stop Believing Immediately

If you’re thinking about buying your first home, that pesky down payment has probably kept you awake more than a few nights. We get it—while a pre-approval is crucial for determining your buying power, it’s the down payment that shows you mean business.

But saving up is hard. In a study conducted by NerdWallet, 44% of respondents said a lack of a down payment was the roadblock keeping them from buying a home.

Making things even worse? Your well-meaning friends and family have probably given you at least one piece of well-meaning, but ill-informed advice, leaving you in more of a blind panic than you need to be.

We’re not saying that saving for a down payment will be a cake walk, but separating fact from fiction can go a long way. Here’s the truth you need to know.

Myth No. 1: You need 20% down

In the NerdWallet study, 44% of respondents also believed you need 20% (or more) down to buy a home. For decades, this was standard, but it isn’t always the case anymore.

“It really depends on the type of buyer you are,” says Robert Garay, a broker associate and team leader of the Garay Group at Lifestyle International Realty in Miami.

For instance, a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan only requires 3.5% down. If either you or your spouse served in the military, you’re likely to be eligible for a Veterans Affairs (VA) loan, which can be approved for 0% down. The same goes for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans.

And if you’re a qualified buyer, you can get approved for a conventional loan with less than 20% down, but there’s a catch: You’ll be on the hook for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. PMI is paid directly to your lender, not toward your principal. Think of it essentially as insurance you pay to prove to the lender you won’t default on your loan.

Myth No. 2: Paying mortgage insurance is smarter than paying a bigger down payment

Perhaps that mortgage insurance seems like a small price to pay in order not to deplete your bank account and win the house. So what if you make some additional payments for a while?

It might not be a big deal, but you’ll want to calculate what you’ll pay in the long run. Take, for example, conventional loans. If you put less than 20% down, you’ll get stuck with PMI, but only until the principal balance reaches 78% or less of the original purchase price.

FHA loans, on the other hand, require mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. That means you’ll be paying an extra monthly fee for as long as you live in the home (or until you pay off the mortgage).

Before you brush off mortgage insurance, compare your options—and know that paying less upfront could mean paying much more over the life of your loan.

Myth No. 3: Cash is king

If you’re shopping in a competitive market, you’ve likely heard horror stories about first-time buyers getting snubbed over investors or all-cash buyers. If you’re working with a loan and a small amount down, it might seem like your chances of getting picked over the other guys are slim to none.

There is some truth to this belief. Cash offers offer one big benefit to a seller: They’re guaranteed to close on time with no loan approval hiccups.

But on the flip side,“That myth assumes that sellers care most about a fast and certain close, and that’s not always true,” says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.”

Often, if you make the bigger offer, or you write a killer personal letter that resonates with the seller, you stand a better chance of getting approved over an all-cash offer.

Fleming’s seen it happen: “I’ve actually beat out all cash offers with 10% down because our offer price was a little higher,” he says. “I’ve also had deals where we were competing against a higher cash offer and the seller took ours because the buyers were a young family wanting to raise their kids in the home—and that meant something to the seller.”

Myth No. 4: Down payment assistance is easy!

We hate to burst your bubble—or discourage you from trying to get down payment assistance if you qualify—but finding, applying, and getting approved for help isn’t always easy.

First, there are no national, or even many state-run, assistance programs.

“Pretty much every program is locally run, sometimes by county or even by city,” Fleming says. You can check the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website for a smattering of state-run “homeowner assistance” options, but you’ll have to do some digging.

And then there’s the other rub. “You have to be under a certain income to qualify, usually the median income in the county,” Fleming says.

Some programs may make special exceptions—say, for single parents—but in general, income is going to be a big factor.

For example, to be eligible for down payment assistance in Grand County, CO, applicants must work a minimum of 32 hours per week in the area and meet income limits. Nevada’s “Home Is Possible Down Payment Assistance Program” has a cap on income, credit score requirements, and the cost of the home bought. In Tamarac, FL, applicants must meet income requirements, wait until an open enrollment period and then get picked from a lottery system.

Still, if you think you might qualify, call your local housing authority office—it can usually point you in the right direction.

Myth No. 5: You shouldn’t put more than 20% down

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to have saved more than 20% down. Odds are good some well-meaning friend is going to tell you to put only 20% down—no more, no less. After all, now that you’ve successfully avoided PMI, why fork over more cash than you have to?

A couple of reasons, Fleming says: First, a higher down payment could signal to your lender that you’re a trustworthy borrower and get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Plus, the more you pay upfront, the less you’re borrowing—which means lower mortgage payments.

But you’ll have to put down at least 5% more to see that difference, according to Fleming.

“Your interest rate drops a little more with 25% down, and even more with 35% down,” he says.

Compare your options to see if it makes more sense to pay the extra down or to keep that money in investments that can work for you.

Myth No. 6: You can take out a loan for a down payment

Truth: There’s nothing wrong with getting help with your down payment, but it has to be a gift. If a lender suspects the money might be a loan, repaying said loan will be factored into your mortgage approval amount and you’ll qualify for less than you might have wanted.

In order to prove it’s a gift, you’ll have to get a letter from the gifters, swearing that they don’t plan on asking for the money back. And don’t try to game the system—lying on a mortgage application is a felony.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/down-payment-myths/

Original Author: Angela Colley

Original Date: April 26 2018

 

What REALTORS® Wish Their Buyers Knew

Buying a home is infinitely different than any other type of purchase you will ever make. With an investment this large, you not only need to rely on the advice of industry experts, but you’ll also need to do your own due diligence. The more you know, the less stressful the experience.

Here are some of the top things REALTORS® wish buyers knew about the homebuying process.

Your REALTOR® is Your Trusted Partner

When you choose to work with a REALTOR®, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. This means you have an experienced professional looking out for your best financial interests, and someone who subscribes to the National Association of REALTORS® strict Code of Ethics. Your REALTOR® is contractually bound to do everything they can to protect you while helping you find the home of your dreams.

REALTOR® Dawn Brewster, with RE/MAX Real Estate Professionals, says her goal is to build and maintain a strong partnership with all of her clients.

“I am deeply committed to my buyers and am passionate about educating them on the market and ensuring they are properly prepared,” she said. “I want to earn my clients’ trust so they can be open with me as far as what are looking for, what they can afford, and what their goals and expectations are. That honest, two-way communication is critical to the process.”

Pre-Approval is a Must

Most REALTORS® won’t even begin showing homes without a pre-approval letter. There are several reasons for this that benefit both the REALTOR® and the buyer. For one, a pre-approval letter provides proof of a buyer’s ability to obtain financing, and also a price range a buyer should stay within. This saves both parties a lot of time and frustration during the home search.

Brewster says this letter is an important first step for every buyer because it also strengthens their negotiation ability.

“This market is moving very quickly, and there is a lot of competition,” she said. “When I submit an offer for my client I need to have a complete package, and that letter is an important piece. In fact, many sellers won’t even entertain an offer without it.”

Every Home Has Issues

Today’s buyers are busy and most don’t have the time, energy, or finances to take on a fixer upper or a large remodeling project. While “move-in ready” may be on every house hunting wish list, Brewster says buyers need to be open-minded.

“As a homeowner, projects and repairs come with the territory,” she said. “So during your search, focus on big-ticket items, like the roof or the windows and try not to get too caught up in the little things. I have seen buyers walk away from some great properties over something as small as a paint color, which is really a minor fix.”

Buyers should also be prepared for the inspection process, keeping in mind that there will rarely be a perfect report. Even a brand new home may have something worth noting, so again, the focus needs to be on any major items in the report that are worth negotiating.

Always Think About Resale

When you’re searching for a home, especially if it’s your first, you are probably not thinking about the day you will sell it. But, any experienced REALTOR® will advise a buyer to always keep resale top-of-mind.

To maximize your value and ensure you are making a wise investment, pay attention to things like location, floorplan, number of bedrooms, storage and closet space, and the functionality of the kitchens and bathrooms.

Not Everything is as Simple as it Seems on TV
Real estate reality shows continue to top the ratings, but rookie buyers shouldn’t believe everything they see on TV. While these popular programs can make the buying or remodeling process seem pretty simple, there is much more going on behind the scenes that gets left on the cutting room floor.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop watching. Home improvement shows have provided buyers with great design inspiration and house hunting education. So, jot down your ideas and questions, and then rely on the professionals for sound advice.

Original Source: https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/marketplace/real-estate/2018/04/19/what-realtors-wish-their-buyers-knew/531513002/

Original Author: Amanda Oboza

Original Date: April 19 2018

Deal or No Deal? 8 Times Bargain Hunting for a Home Can Backfire

Everybody loves a bargain. But getting one handed to you, gift-wrapped, in this housing market? Fat chance.

Limited inventory has boosted prices, and in many cities, sellers have the big end of the stick. It’s rare to see buyers scoring a fabulous house in a desirable neighborhood for thousands of dollars under asking price.

So to save some cash, you might feel compelled to make some compromises, try to negotiate, and look for the hidden bargains.

But beware of taking your thriftiness too far—because you just might regret it. Read on for eight times bargain hunting can actually backfire.

1. Working alone instead of with an agent

Thinking of just doing this thing on your own? Don’t.

“When we talk to clients about the deadly mistakes home buyers make when purchasing a home, No. 1 is buying a home without representation,” says Brian Cournoyer, a Realtor® with DeSelms Real Estate in Franklin, TN.

First, it’s important to know that you won’t save anything by skipping the buyer’s agent, because that cost isn’t on you. Typically the seller pays the commission for both the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent.

And if you consider yourself a master negotiator, or think you can search for homes just as well as the next guy, know this: Agents have a host of training and tools designed to find the right properties and get you the best deal.

“Everyone thinks they can go online and pull up comps, but they don’t have access to all the real-time information that agents do,” Cournoyer says.

2. Assuming you can get a deal on a short sale

OK, so most sellers are in the driver’s seat. But what about sellers who need to offload their home fast? There’s gotta be some of those out there, right?

Jen Birmingham, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker in Petaluma, CA, says one of the biggest mistakes she sees is people counting on short sales to snag a bargain.

“Because home values are way above where they were when a lot of people were underwater, short sales are few and far between right now,” she says. “Buyers need to know that what was working six years ago is no longer applicable.”

3. Making big compromises just to score a deal

Buying a home that doesn’t have enough bedrooms, is located two hours from your work, or needs a mountain of money to make it livable is no bargain, even if its list price is far below your budget.

The trouble is, in a hot market, buyers often ignore these blazing-red flags, Birmingham says.

“What I see is a lot of people wanting so desperately to get into the market that they’re willing to make compromises that may have originally been deal breakers,” she says.

Think carefully about your must-haves, and do your best to stick to the list.

4. Hiring the cheapest inspector, or none at all

While it might seem economical to skip a professional home inspection, be aware that what you save now you’ll probably pay for later, Cournoyer says.

In older homes, an inspector can discover problems such as termite infestations or crumbling foundations. Even for new builds, it’s wise to hire a pro who can spot material defects or unfinished work in out-of-the-way areas such as crawl spaces or roofs.

“For instance, we have some pictures taken by an inspector that we show clients, where builders left a sheet of 4-by-8 plywood over the top of the chimney,” Cournoyer explains. “If we hadn’t had that inspected, this house may have burned down when they built their first fire.”

And there’s a double whammy: Forgoing an inspection also means you lose the ability to renegotiate if, say, you notice evidence of a leaky roof during the final walk-through.

5. Requesting an endless list of inclusions

Back when buyers held court, sellers routinely ended up including major appliances and other household goods in the contract. Anything to seal the deal, right? Well, those days are long gone, Cournoyer warns.

“Buyers tend to lose touch with reason a little bit, and think they should get everything,” he says.

Want to win that house? Make your asks equal to the price you’re offering.

“If you want to offer up a whole ton of money, you can be a little more high-maintenance,” Cournoyer says. “But when you’re out there searching for a bottom-of-the-barrel deal, you’d better just be asking for the house and that’s it.” 

6. Insisting on unreasonable repairs

Certainly, if the home inspection turns up a major issue requiring immediate attention, buyers should ask that a repair be done prior to closing. But don’t assume a seller needs to revamp the entire property or make cosmetic changes.

“I had an experience recently where the buyers wrote out a huge laundry list of requests for the seller,” Birmingham recalls. “It was a really nicely flipped property, yet the buyers were still asking for more customization. The seller had put on a new roof, and they wanted two skylights installed.”

When Birmingham suggested this could anger the seller and limit their chances of getting the home, the buyers wouldn’t budge. Guess what? They didn’t get the house.

“The seller had three other offers, and didn’t want to deal with my buyers because their demands were so off the wall and unrealistic,” she says.

7. Making a lowball offer on a home that’s been languishing on the market

Some buyers figure that any listing that’s been up for more than a couple of weeks must have a desperate seller behind it. But, Birmingham notes, a low offer will not only cost you credibility in the seller’s eyes, but could also spark a bidding war.

“Usually when a house is on somebody’s radar as a bargain, there’s somebody else that has the same feeling at the same moment,” she explains. “So you’ll usually still be in competition in a multiple-offer situation.”

Speaking of which…

8. Employing the wrong strategy in a multiple-offer situation

When you’re one of many offers on the table, it’s important to stand out in a positive way, Cournoyer says.

“Agents have a few tricks we can put in the offers that help us rise to the top of the pile,” he says. “Yet we see buyers who don’t submit clean offers—making (contingencies) on a home sale, for example—which clutters up a contract.”

Birmingham agrees that ignoring your agent usually means missing out on a house.

“In most situations, if the house is priced properly, a good Realtor is communicating with the listing agent about how many offers are coming in,” she explains.

“Buyers really have to be ready to step up with an above-asking offer if they want the house,” she adds. “Sometimes, it takes a few losses for buyers to understand that process.”

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/ways-bargain-hunting-home-backfire/

Original Date: April 4 2018

Original Author:

Ask the Realtor: Explaining the role of a buyer’s agent

 .

The other day I received a call about a listing of mine from a buyer named Kevin. He requested a showing as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even though the home had been on the market only a short time, it was already under contract.

Kevin was clearly disappointed with this news.

“I assume you are not working with a buyer’s agent,’’ I said.

I was right.

“Since we only just started looking a few months ago,’’ he said, “we didn’t want to commit to working with an agent yet.’’

News flash: The most important time to start working with a buyer’s agent is at the very beginning of your search. If Kevin had been working with an experienced buyer’s agent, he would not only have been informed about my listing more than a week ago, but also educated on how the home-buying process works. He would have known that timing is key, because of the limited number of homes on the market and high demand.

His buyer’s agent would have also told him that offers were due at noon on Monday, two days before he called me. A good buyer’s agent could have been the difference between Kevin missing out on this house and owning his dream home.

Like any important consideration, research and education are essential. Buying a home can be very exciting, but also extremely overwhelming. It is important to understand how the process works. What baffles me is that many people will spend hours, even days, researching refrigerators or coffee makers, but when it comes to the largest investment of their lives, a house, they don’t take the time to find someone who can help guide them through this complex process. Although the Internet can be a great resource, it’s not a substitute for working with an experienced agent. The job of a buyer’s agent is to protect their client’s interests.

A buyer’s agent’s first step is to set up a meeting to explain everything involved with a home purchase, beginning with making sure you speak with a lender to understand what you can afford. I cannot tell you how many buyers are out looking at houses every weekend, not even knowing how much they can really afford. That’s a waste of time.

Experienced buyer’s agents explore your motivation for purchasing by asking lots of questions: How far away is your day care? How long of a commute can you tolerate? They will ask whether you prefer to be walking distance from the center of town or out in the privacy of the suburbs. They will ask what your nonnegotiables are when it comes to choosing a home. Based on your answers, your agent will make suggestions as to which communities and what types of homes might work best for you. They will listen and help you find an area that will satisfy your needs and financial limitations. They will educate you on what you can get for your money in each community, and once you find a home, will advise you on how to craft a strong offer. They handle all of the negotiations and the paperwork right through to closing. Your agent will also have a list of trusted service providers they can recommend, such as inspectors, lawyers, lenders, electricians, and movers.

Buyer representation will make a tremendous difference in your experience. Unlike Kevin, who missed the offer deadline, you will have all of the information you need at your disposal — when you need it. Without an agent, you may miss out on what could be the perfect home for your family. Don’t be like Kevin. Contact a good buyer agent to help you.

Original Source: http://realestate.boston.com/ask-the-expert/2018/03/28/buyers-agent-role-explained/

Original Author: Marjorie Youngren

Original Date: Mar 28 2018

Industry News…

Home buying trends: Millennials are more conventional than you might think

Conventional loans among Millennials hit two-year high

Millennial home buyers seem to have pretty good credit. According to new data, not only are their credit scores rising, but they’re also qualifying for more conventional loans – products that are traditionally more difficult to get without great credit.

Getting more conventional

According to the most recent Millennial Tracker from Ellie Mae, Millennials are increasingly choosing conventional loans over FHA, VA or other loan options. In fact, conventional loans made up 67 percent of all Millennial closed loans in January – the highest share in two years.

FHA loans only accounted for 32 percent of all Millennial loans for the month. Joe Tyrell, Ellie Mae executive vice president of corporate strategy, said this trend has been gaining speed.

“Historically we have seen Millennials look to FHA programs to help address their home buying needs, but in the past two months, FHA loans have represented less than 30 percent of the total loans for Millennials,” Tyrell said. “We view this as an indication that more Millennials are qualifying for conventional mortgages.”

Other Millennial home buying trends

Refinance loans were also up among Millennials in January. Refis accounted for 18 percent of all loans for the month – up from the 15 percent share seen since October. Millennial FICO scores rose too, increasing from 722 to 723 for the month.

The top three spots for female Millennial buyers were all in Wisconsin: La Crosse-Onalaska, St. Cloud and Green Bay. For male Millennials, it was Fairmont, West Virginia; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Macon, Georgia.

Women were more likely to use FHA loans. Thirty-two percent of women chose FHA financing compared to 27 percent of men.

Get today’s mortgage rates

Are you a Millennial ready to embark on the home buying journey? Shop around and see what mortgage rates you’d qualify for today.

Show Me Today’s Rates (Mar 21st, 2018)

Original Source: https://themortgagereports.com/36628/home-buying-trends-millennials-are-more-conventional-than-you-might-think

Posted 03/09/2018

Selling Your Home? Don’t Neglect These 6 Maintenance Tasks—or Else

If you’re a homeowner, you already know that keeping your property in tiptop shape requires dedication and patience for ongoing maintenance. But what if you’ve put your home on the market, or even accepted an offer? Perhaps you’re thinking: Not my problem anymore.

Sorry, folks, we’ve got news for you: Just because you’re selling doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from routine maintenance tasks—and that’s especially true if you’ve already vacated the house.

Sure, a well-cared-for house shows better: Small things like broken doorbells and leaky faucets make buyers wonder if your property also has bigger issues elsewhere. But more important, a little routine maintenance can help you avoid a catastrophic problem down the line (e.g., burst pipes, roof leaks, critters moving into your attic) that could devalue your property and derail that sale.

To prevent minor issues from escalating into full-blown, money-sucking, sale-killing problems, focus on these six important areas you can’t afford to neglect.

1. Keep up the yard and walkways

Whether you’re still living at the home or not, you’ll want to make sure to keep your landscaping tidy—remove dead tree limbs, rake leaves, and clean out flowerbeds.

If your home is already vacant, have someone tend to the yard regularly so that grass and weeds don’t detract from your home’s appearance, suggests Kyle Hiscock, a Realtor® with Re/Max Reality Group in Rochester, NY.

“If your home does not have a well-maintained exterior, (potential buyers) will keep driving,” he cautions. “Plus, this kind of neglect can be a bull’s-eye for vandals to break into your property.”

Consider having lights on timers so the house doesn’t look dark all the time, and arrange for driveways and walkways to be plowed weekly in the winter months. And don’t let mail pile up in the mailbox.

2. Clean the gutters and check the roof

This one’s easy to forget about, even when you don’t plan on going anywhere. But when it comes to gutter and roof issues, neglect can cause a dangerous domino effect.

Overflowing gutters can damage your foundation, and also lead to drainage issues. And, of course, you don’t want buyers seeing puddling water as they approach your house.

Just ask Alise Roberts, owner/broker at Alise Roberts & Company in Bellevue, WA. In the rainy Pacific Northwest climate, she frequently has to remind her clients to keep sidewalks clear of moss and clean gutters of pine needles and leaves.

“Buyers, seeing the house when it’s raining, will also see your gutters overflowing,” she says. “That’s a terrible first impression.”

And then there’s the roof. Of course, it’ll be examined during the home inspection, but it would behoove you to do it before putting your home on the market. Small roof cracks can remain undetected for years, causing water to slowly infiltrate your home and damage ceilings and walls.

“If water starts to penetrate a property, it can be a very difficult sale,” Hiscock notes. “Water in basements or in homes is one of the top three things buyers are scared of.”

3. Service your heating systems

It’s not sexy, but the hidden guts of your home need regular attention, whether you’re still living there or not. That means having your HVAC systems professionally serviced.

First up, your furnace: If you get it addressed before you list your home, it won’t smell like dust when you crank up the heat during an open house on a chilly day. While you’re at it, have the duct work and filters cleaned as well. And if you have baseboard heaters, vacuum those out, too.

(Speaking of heat, Roberts suggests keeping the thermostat at 66 degrees Fahrenheit when agents are showing your house so buyers can visit your place comfortably. This will also avoid any issues with pipes freezing or bursting.)

Have a chimney? Be sure to have it inspected and cleaned as well.

“You want to make sure there are no cracked flue tiles, and that from the exterior, there are no gaps in the mortar between the bricks,” Hiscock explains. “Otherwise, you could potentially have the chimney fall over onto the house, and that’s a very expensive fix.”

4. Keep the critters out

If you don’t want to add “family of raccoons included” to your listing (and pay the hefty tab for getting them out), inspect the inside and outside of your home for any areas that need to plugged up. Take care of holes from damaged siding or fascia under the roofline—and do it promptly.

“In a colder climate, squirrels look for somewhere warm to go, and they’ll find their way into your property,” Hiscock says.

Stove and dryer vents, for example, should be covered with wire mesh to deter pests.

5. Wash your windows

Most people associate sparkling windows with spring-cleaning, Roberts says. But if your house is on the market, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is—you need to get those babies squeaky clean.

“If buyers walk through your home and all they see is dirty windows, that’ll really mar the showing process,” she says.

Make sure to wipe them down after a bad storm, when they’re especially likely to show muck and grime buildup.

6. Check the calendar

Depending on what time of year you bring your house to market, pay attention to any details that scream, “We don’t live here or care anymore,” Roberts says.

That means tackling seasonal tasks such as clearing away lawn mowers in the fall and storing shovels in the spring.

“Too often, I see a seller’s patio furniture still outside during the winter time. To me, that’s not a good reflection on the property,” Hiscock says. “It shows deferred maintenance and lack of caring, and can really turn off a potential buyer.

“If a seller can’t put away their patio furniture and lawn mower, what makes you believe that they’ve actually maintained the property all the years they’ve been there?” he adds.

Staying on top of these regular tasks will make it easier to sell your home with fewer headaches. Plus, it’ll preserve the value of your property, and potentially, the thickness of your wallet, too.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/home-maintenance-tasks-while-selling/

Original Author:

Original Date: Feb 1, 2018

Which Generation Is Struggling the Most to Buy a Home? (It’s Not Millennials)

Scrimping and saving to come up with a down payment is no easy feat, especially when aspiring buyers have student loan debt, high rents, and soaring property prices to contend with. But millennials who are most likely to face those hurdles aren’t the generation having the hardest time saving up for a new home, a recent report finds. Instead, it’s Generation X.

The National Association of Realtors® report is based on about 4,000 responses received from non-homeowners in surveys performed each month in 2017.

Xers “are at an age where they may have children, car loans, credit card debt,” says Jessica Lautz, NAR’s managing director of survey research. “They’re also less likely to be able to move back home [with their parents] to pay down debt.”

 

About 47% of Generation X respondents said they were having difficulty saving up for a down payment. That’s compared with 23% of millennials.

Although the lingering pain of the financial crisis cut across age groups, it hit Generation Xers particularly hard.

“They were very likely to have purchased a home in the housing boom and then be hit by the housing bust,” says Lautz. “Generation Xers were most likely to have a home that was underwater.”

Not having sufficient home equity makes it harder to trade up to larger abodes to accommodate growing families.

But it isn’t just members of Generation X struggling to become homeowners. Millennials, many of whom are just beginning their careers and starting their families, make up the largest overall share of non-owners. Those making $50,000 or less were also more likely not to own their own abodes.

And despite 82% of non-owners aspiring to own a home in the future, the main reason that many are unable to do so is because they can’t afford it. Nationally, annual home list prices were up a median 7.8% as of Jan. 1, according to realtor.com® data.

“They believe that homeownership is part of their American dream,” says Lautz. But “[they’re] feeling priced out of the home-buying market.”

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/generation-struggling-become-homeowners-hint-not-millennials/

Original Author: Clare Trapasso

Original Date: Feb 7 2018

6 Surprising Ways Home Staging Can Sabotage Your Sale

If there’s one thing that’s hammered home during the selling process, it’s that prospective buyers hate walking into an empty house. They need to imagine themselves in your space, and that means seeing furniture, accessories, and other decor trappings that make a house feel like a home—and wake prospective buyers to the potential of the place.

To the rescue: home staging. Consider it the professional makeover your home gets before the big dance. If done correctly, it can be a seller’s best friend, slashing the time your home sits on the market and boosting your profits.

But it’s also possible for home staging to go desperately wrong, even when you think you’re doing it right. Take heed of these oh-so-easy-to-make mistakes when staging your home.

1. Overdesigning your space

The goal of home staging is to help buyers visualize what the house could look like once they move in. The trick is to give off that feeling subtly, not smacking buyers in the face with design, design, design right when they walk in the door.

“Home staging is like being a backup singer to the house, which is the star,” says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. “As a backup singer, you have to be good, but, girl—do not overshadow Miss Tina Turner.”

Staging should boost your home, not the other way around. Keep it simple with furnishings, some decor, and textiles to add softness. Don’t cover every nook and cranny, even if you think it’ll look amazing.

2. Displaying fake everything

Making a home feel lived in without actually being lived in is tricky. But if your home stager suggests a nice bowl of fake fruit or anything inflatable, run quickly in the other direction.

“Fake plants, fake flowers, fake food, fake TV screens and computers, and, most of all, blow-up mattresses,” Riordan says. “Every time [buyers] see a fake item they are reminded that this is not real, this is not achievable, and this is not their new home.”

Keep it real, and forget the artificial bananas and silk leaf palm trees.

3. Not staging to scale

What home seller doesn’t want to create the illusion of more space? And to do that, you might assume you should use smaller, lightweight items.

Au contraire! That tactic can actually dwarf a home, experts say. Instead, make sure your furniture and accessories match the room in scale and proportion. In other words: If you have a huge family room with a vaulted ceiling, don’t opt for a small, low-backed sofa and tiny ottoman coffee table.

Plus, buyers should walk in and feel like there’s room for the family to grow and for entertaining. If the furniture used for staging is too small, the whole space will scream, “not enough room for life in this house.”

“Putting a small four-top table in a giant dining room does not show good use of the room,” Riordan says. “It shows poor use of scale.”

The same goes for decor accessories—your Italian ceramics, votive candles, artwork, and other odds and ends. If they’re disproportional to the space, the whole room can feel visually cluttered—even if you’re not displaying many items.

“No piece should be smaller than a softball,” says Tori Toth, home stager, founder of Stylish Stagers, and author of “Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell.”

4. Staging your entire home in one aesthetic

Even if you’re selling a restored Victorian, buyers might not want to see oil lamps and fainting couches in every room. Buyers are trying to envision themselves—and everything they already own—in the space.

To help them get there, feel free to showcase eclectic furniture that proves to buyers their mismatched furniture will also go great in the house, Riordan says.

When in doubt, however, opt for traditional pieces: light-colored sofas, tables with clean lines, and timeless decor pieces. Your goal is to create the feeling of home for the buyer, not a museum.

5. Keeping doors closed

This one seems like an obvious no-no, but sometimes we’re all guilty of habitually closing doors.

“Having a person be able to move through the house without thinking is hugely important,” Riordan says. “We have seen entire floors missed by potential buyers because a door was closed and the buyer had assumed that the door was a closet rather than a staircase to the basement or upper floor.”

Before your real estate agent shows your house, do a final walk-through and make sure everything is open and ready to go.

6. Going too neutral

There’s nothing wrong with a classic color scheme, but if you keep everything ivory and beige, it won’t make your house stand out from the pack.

We’re not saying you should go crazy with the color. But your home should have a bit of unique appeal—some pops of color here and there, and one or two rooms that don’t look like every other room in the house (and on the planet).

“We create one color story for each room,” Riordan says of his design firm. “There might be a red office, a green living room, and an orange bedroom in a single house.”

The end result? After a potential buyer has seen 10 houses—each with eight rooms—in one day, she’ll have an easier time calling yours to mind.

“The red office is much easier to recall hours later than the office that had a desk in it,” Riordan explains.

And, after all, your goal here is to have the house that buyers remember.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/home-staging-mistakes-that-sabotage-the-sale/

Original Author:

Original Date: Jan 24 2018