Category Archives: In The News

6 Things Your REALTOR® Can Provide That the Internet Can’t

According to a 2018 Pew Research study, 77 percent of Americans visit the internet daily. Shopping, social media, news, banking, you name it…we can do it all online. In fact, with so much available at our fingertips, some people are even using the internet to buy and sell real estate. But, with an investment that large, can you really use the World Wide Web as a replacement for a REALTOR®? 

Here are just a few of the things you’ll miss out on if you choose the internet over professional representation.

Strategic Pricing Strategy
Several websites offer automated valuation models (AVMs), that allow you to type in an address and get a price based on an algorithm. However, these AVMs should be considered estimates only.   

REALTOR® Frank Vicenté with EXIT Realty Home Partners says these discrepancies are why algorithms can’t take the place of a local REALTOR®’s knowledge. 

“While these websites can give you a ballpark figure, they can’t effectively determine a home’s value if they’ve never set foot inside,” he said. “A website doesn’t know the condition of a home or if there have been recent updates, and these are important factors in determining an accurate price range.”

Extensive Market Knowledge
REALTORS® live and breathe real estate every day, and they know the ins and outs of every neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and point you in the direction to find information on schools, crime, and more. 

REALTORS® also have in-depth knowledge of the local market, which is critical because market conditions dictate the selling and buying process. Data such as average sales price, average days on market, inventory levels, average price per square foot, interest rates, the current economy, the time of year, etc. all have a bearing on how you proceed with buying or selling a home. 

Of course, you can research market trends online, but it’s important to remember that real estate is very local in nature. Just because something is true on a national level or in a major metropolitan city, doesn’t mean it applies to your area. Only local REALTORS® possess the intimate knowledge that is necessary in a successful real estate transaction. 

Networking and Marketing Tools
It’s true that the Internet provides some great networking capabilities. However, posting your home on Craigslist or sharing it on Facebook doesn’t compare to the marketing tools available when you work with a professional REALTOR®. 

When partnering with an agent, not only do you get widespread exposure for your home through the multiple listing service (MLS), but your agent will also promote your listing to fellow agents and through their well-established social media presence and professional networks.

Top-Notch Negotiating Skills
Not just anyone can skillfully navigate a real estate negotiation. In a fast-paced market you can expect tough competition, multiple offers, bidding wars, and even some cutthroat tactics. Should you decide to go it alone, chances are the other side will be represented by an experienced agent, and you’ll automatically be at a disadvantage. 

And, when it comes to the complex paperwork, unless you have a background in contracts or law, it’s best to leave the paperwork to the pros. 

Industry Connections
REALTORS® know just about everyone in the industry who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home.

You can search online for reviews and recommendations, but agents can give you a list of references they have successfully worked with on previous transactions. Lenders, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, interior designers, landscapers, home stagers…if you need one, your REALTOR® most likely has a few referrals. You can always turn to your REALTOR® for suggestions on home professionals, even if it has been five years since moving in. 

Experience and Education
The bottom line is you don’t need to know everything about real estate if you hire a professional who does. While this may be your first, second, or even third buying or selling experience, your REALTOR® handles hundreds of transactions during his/her career. And, because they are required to participate in continuing education, REALTORS® are always “in the know’ when it comes to the ever-changing regulations and laws. 

“Think about it this way, there is an unlimited amount of medical information available online, but if a health issue comes up, chances are you’ll head to the doctor,” said Vicenté. “The internet can be a powerful tool, but when it comes to one of the biggest investments of your life, it’s important to hire a trusted professional who will look out for your best interests.” 

Original Source: https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/marketplace/real-estate/2019/02/27/6-things-realtor-can-provide/3008226002/

Original Date: Feb 27 2019

Written by: Meghan Webber

That’s So 2018! Outdated Mortgage Advice You Should Ignore Right Now

mortgage-outdated
LPETTET/iStock

Buying a house is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do in your life — and signing the mortgage for that house will probably be one of the most terrifying.

Since navigating the home loan process can be scary to do alone, many people might be tempted to seek out guidance from someone who’s been there, done that. But you should probably ignore everything your Uncle Bob says. (Sorry, Bob!) And Aunt Sue, while we’re at it. They may mean well, but let’s face it, they haven’t taken out a mortgage in 20 years. In fact, even a friend or family member who got a mortgage last year might lead you far astray (in a well-meaning way, of course), since the rules of home financing really do change on a dime.

Our two cents? For starters, beware these dusty pearls of wisdom below. They might have worked wonders back in 2018, but they don’t necessarily work for everyone right now. Here’s why, as well as some fresher, tastier alternatives.

Get a mortgage with a fixed interest rate

You’ve probably always assumed you’d get a 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate. Your parents had one … and isn’t that the only way to get payments you can afford? These days, you have many more choices, and reasons to try them out.

“People aren’t buying their forever home right out of the gate anymore, so the benefits of a 30-year mortgage aren’t necessarily there,” says real estate agent Heather Carbone with the Heather Carbone Team at Big River Properties in Boston. She explains that many first-time home buyers are buying starter homes, and that they plan to move on to something bigger and better after a few years. “Going with a five- or seven-year adjustable rate mortgage [ARM] could potentially save them a couple of hundred dollars off their monthly payment and ease the monthly payment burden a little bit, as they will most likely sell their home before the rates adjust,” she says. Here’s more on the pros and cons of ARMs vs. fixed-rate mortgages.

Make a 20% down payment

When you’re trying to come up with a down payment on a house, 20% sounds like a huge amount. So how do people come up with that kind of cash? Most of the time, they don’t. At least not anymore.

“I meet with lots of young buyers who have been instilled by their parents and others that the only way to buy a house is with a large, 20% down payment,” says Carbone. “In today’s market, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Provided the buyer has a solid credit score, down payments as low as 3.5% are very much a reality today.”

Real estate agent Melissa Rubenstein, with KW Village Square Realty in Ridgewood, NJ, agrees. “While 20% has traditionally been a benchmark for what is acceptable, this no longer holds true in the market, she says. “With FHA loans requiring around 3%, and other traditional loans offering 10% down options or lower, it makes sense to explore different products with your lender. Don’t miss out on historically low interest rates while trying to stash away cash.”

Wait for interest rates to drop

It seems like interest rates could always be better, but according to Bruce Ailion, real estate agent with Re/Max Town and Country in Atlanta, that might not be true at the moment.

“For 2019, we are likely at the end of the low interest cycle, and interest rates are at their lowest,” he explains. “Today is the time to buy, if interest rates are the determining factor.”

You can always wait for them to go lower, but you might be sorry if you do.

Meet with your lender in person

In the past, the only way to talk with a lender was to walk into a bank, which often meant taking time off work and rearranging your whole day. In 2019, things are getting easier.

“Times are changing, and visiting a bank branch to meet with a lending officer is not the only route to getting a mortgage. Now, you can apply for a mortgage online,” says Kathy Cummings, senior vice president of Homeownership Solutions and Affordable Housing Programs at Bank of America in Charlotte, NC. “Research shows that 32% of Americans are comfortable applying for a mortgage digitally.”

This doesn’t mean human contact is obsolete. “When you have questions that you want to speak to an expert about—in person or by telephone—you have the option,” Cummings says. Consider it the best of both worlds.

Pay off your mortgage as fast as you can

If you have a 30-year mortgage, chances are you have a dream to pay it off in at least 20. Not only will it give you an extra 10 years without a monthly payment, but it’ll save you tons of money in interest. Right?

Not really. Jeff Chervenak, president of Guaranty Federal in Bloomfield, CT, says that’s not necessary anymore—and it probably won’t save you much money.

“Paying off your mortgage as a goal is as much emotional as financial. Because interest rates are, even now, so low, consider saving and investing with the money you would use to pay down your loan separately,” he explains. “Liquidity has a lot of value, and you could always use the lump sum accumulated to pay it down or off any time you wish.”

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, mortgages today are very different from they were just a few years ago. Do your homework before you make any decisions, and check with an expert you trust before you sign on the dotted line.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/outdated-mortgage-advice-you-should-ignore/

Original Date: Feb 4 2019

Written By: Whitney Coy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Affording a home will remain tough

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

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

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

3. Millennials will still dominate home buying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. The new tax law is still a wild card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Date: Nov 28 2018

Written By:

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

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

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

Keep your monthly mortgage payment under one paycheck

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

Shop around for the best interest rate

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

Multiple quotes can help with more than just interest rates

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

Lock in your interest rate for as long as possible

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

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

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

Make extra mortgage payments whenever possible

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

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

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

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

Original Date: Nov 12 2018

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

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

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

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

1. Low inventory = less competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. New parents may be looking to upgrade

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

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

4. Winter brings out the serious buyers

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

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

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

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

5. Year-end financial bonuses and payouts

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

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

6. Corporate relocation

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

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

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

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

Original Date: Oct  8 2018

Original Author: Terri Williams

‘House-Rich, Cash-Poor’: Here’s What It Really Means

“House-rich, cash-poor” sounds like the title of a country song. After all, how can someone be rich and poor at the same time, unless they’re fighting some poetic struggle in a twangy ballad? Well, it all comes down to how much you have tied up in your home, compared with how much you have in your pocket.

‘House-rich, cash-poor’ explained in real numbers

Being house-rich and cash-poor means you have more equity locked into the value of your home than you have in liquid assets.

Leon Goldfeld, co-founder of the New York–based real estate brokerage startup Yoreevo, breaks down how the house-rich, cash-poor scenario can play out:

  • You have a debt-to-income ratio higher than 40%, which means your homeownership expenses take up over 40% of your income. (As a general rule, it’s best to not spend more than 30% of your income on living expenses.)
  • Your home equity makes up more than 80% of your total net worth.
  • You have less than six months in cash reserves to cover your total monthly expenses if the need arises.

Is it bad to be house-rich and cash-poor?

As a real estate professional in St. Petersburg, FL, Patricia Vosburgh advises her clients not to become house-rich and cash-poor due to her first-hand experience in the 1980s.

“I can tell you it’s not a great place to be,” she says. “The slightest financial hiccup in your life can become an issue.”

Get Pre-Approved

Find a lender who can offer competitive mortgage rates and help you with pre-approval.

For instance, if you run into large medical bills or a costly home repair, you may not have the money to pay for it. Beyond that, being house-rich and cash-poor can lead to a downturn in your quality of life.

“You’re working constantly to hold onto the asset and not really enjoying the benefits of homeownership,” says Vosburgh.

How common is it to be house-rich and cash-poor?

These days, it’s a bit of a mixed bag: Thanks to a healthy economy, low unemployment, and stricter lending requirements put in place after 2008, many homeowners are house-rich, meaning they have good equity in their home. Yet many of these same homeowners are also cash-poor, lacking the reserves necessary to see them through life’s ups and downs.

“First-time buyers are saving up lots of money for the down payment—usually between 5% to 20%,” says Cedric Stewart, a residential and commercial sales consultant at Keller Williams in the Washington, DC, area. “But they often don’t leave any money for the ‘what if’ fund, such as emergency home maintenance.”

Another group vulnerable to becoming house-rich and cash-poor are buyers looking to trade up their current home.

“These buyers take the money from the sale of their current home and plunk it all down on the next one,” explains Stewart. That’s a risky move, he says, since it leaves you no financial wiggle room for whatever financial curveballs may come your way.

The bottom line: A buyer should never leave themselves cash-poor, says Ralph DiBugnara, vice president at Residential Home Funding.

“If it’s going to cost you every bit of savings just to acquire the house, you may not be ready for that specific home,” he says.

How you can avoid it

Deeply understand your finances before you buy a home, recommends Goldfeld. For starters, try entering your income and debts into a mortgage calculator to figure out what price you can afford on a home. Speak to a lender to find out how large a home loan you qualify for, too.

These moves will help you figure out what your monthly expenses would be if you had to pay for that mortgage. Take note: Even if you qualify for a large mortgage, you don’t want to get yourself into a position where every little expense is difficult to pay for.

So make sure you have at least a year of whatever your recurring monthly payments would be in reserve and shoot for a debt-to-income ratio under 30%. Then set a reasonable budget for the purchase price of a home. Look for a healthy balance between investing in a new home and creating your ideal quality of life after the home is bought. (It’s plain common sense to hold enough cash back to have a financial cushion in case of an emergency.)

Another option is to get a home warranty to cover any unexpected home expenses.

“I tell all my buyers to ask for one from the seller or pay for it themselves,” says Vosburgh.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/house-rich-cash-poor-meaning/

Original Date: Oct 12 2018

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Real deal: Realtors share safety tips for sellers

It is the Realtor’s job to protect consumers in the real estate transaction. Seller, particularly, can be vulnerable as they allow strangers into their home to view their property.

An open house can be a great tool for marketing a home, but it also exposes Realtors and their sellers to unfamiliar people for the first time. Thieves and assailants have been known to prey on open houses. The Silicon Valley Association of Realtors cautions its members and their clients to be watchful of suspicious behavior.

Practicing safety measures is the smart thing to do. As Realtors celebrate Realtor Safety Month in September, they share the following tips to protect their clients against crime, especially at an open house.

Sellers should remember that strangers will be walking through their home during showings or open houses. Sellers should hide any valuables in a safe place, including prescription medications and alcohol, as well as personal information, such as bank statements that could be used for identity theft.

Realtors warn their clients that not all agents are who they say they are. If a stranger stops by a listing unannounced, the seller should ask the person to make an appointment with their Realtor. Sellers should never show a home without their Realtor present; nor should they let a stranger, including an unfamiliar real estate agent, into their home unannounced.

Sellers are responsible for their pets. If possible, animals should be removed during showings. If buyers and agents are attacked by an animal, the owner will be held liable.

At an open house, be alert to the pattern of visitors’ arrivals, especially near the end of showing hours. In some cases, the modus operandi of thieves is to show up in a group near the end of an open house and, while the supposed buyer distracts the Realtor and the seller, if present, the rest of the group walks through the house and steals valuables.

Inform a neighbor that your Realtor will be showing your home and ask if he or she would keep an eye and ear open for anything out of the ordinary.

When leaving a property after an open house or a showing, the Realtor should make sure that all doors and windows of the home are locked. Thieves commonly use open houses to scout for valuables and possible points of entry, then return after the Realtor leaves.

While the Realtor will take all of the above safety precautions, their clients should know when they return home that they should immediately verify that all doors are locked and all valuables accounted for.

This article is part of the National Association of Realtors’ Realtor Safety Kit. Sources are the Nevada County Board of Realtors (CA) and Realty Times. For more ideas on how to protect your personal safety, visit NAR’s website at www.REALTOR.org/safety.

Original Source: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/28/realdeal/

Original Date: Sept 28 2018

Written By: Rose Meily

Don’t Fall Behind! Here Are 5 Essential Home-Selling Moves You Might Not Be Doing

To get your home sold, you have to tackle a rather long to-do list. Some of these tasks are well-known, and some are just good ol’ common sense—like finding a real estate agent and spreading the word that your house is up for grabs. But some other steps in the home-selling process aren’t quite so obvious.

So to keep these less apparent home-selling tactics from falling through the cracks, here we’ve highlighted five things you may not even realize you have to do. Just in time to start prepping for the busy fall selling season!

1. Reach millennial home buyers

In 2017, for the fifth year in a row, Americans aged 20 to 37 were the largest group of home buyers—at 36%, according to the annual Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report from the National Association of Realtors®. So get smart: Find ways to appeal to this (huge) generation when marketing your home.

These tips will help you attract younger home buyers:

  • Promote your listing on social media. As digital natives, many of these would-be buyers are glued to Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media networks. Make sure your real estate agent is marketing your listing on these platforms.
  • Showcase your smart home technology. Millennials love smart home devices and theyre looking for these products when searching for homes. In a recent Coldwell Banker survey, more than half of homeowners (54%) said they would purchase or install smart home devices if they were selling their homes. Of that group, 72% said they would be willing to pay $1,500 more for a home that was smart.
  • Make your house more energy-efficient. Making even small changes to your house (e.g., installing a programmable thermostat, adding attic insulation, or plugging air leaks around doors and windows) can make your home more appealing to Gen Y buyers. In fact, 84% of millennials say theyre willing to pay up to 2% to 3% more for an energy-efficient home, according to a recent study by the National Association of Home Builders.
  • Show off eco-friendly features. It’s no secret that this generation is environmentally aware, but you dont have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on solar paneling to make your home green. Strategically planting trees around your home can reduce your air-conditioning costs by 15% to 50%, according to Energy.gov. They look nice, too.

2. Make your home move-in ready

Unless you’re selling a teardown, you need to do whatever it takes to make your home move-in ready for buyers.

This means tackling not only large home repairs but also small ones like replacing ripped screens, fixing leaky faucets, unclogging gutters, and mending damaged shingles.

Pro tip: If your house is in lousy shape, consider ordering a pre-inspection, where an inspector scrutinizes your property for problems before you put it on the market. This would give you the ability to fix problems ahead of time—while also presenting buyers with a clean bill of health on the property. Buyers love it, and a home inspection costs only about $200 to $500.

3. Order professional listing photos

If you have a good eye and a good camera, you might be tempted to take your own listing photos. But we’re not talking about selfies here. If you’re looking to sell your home quickly, using an experienced professional photographer is a must.

There’s proof. In one case study, real estate photography company IMOTO compared 350 listings using its professional photography with 350 similar listings without professionally done photos in the same ZIP code. According to the company’s data, listings using the professional photography sold 50% faster and 39% closer to the original listing price than those that didn’t.

4. Prepare for open houses

Your agent is hosting the open house, so it’s her job to make sure your house is ready for the big event, right? Wrong! It’s your responsibility to prep your home before strangers show up at the door.

Here’s a handy checklist to get your home ready for an open house:

  • Remove all prescription drugs from your medicine cabinet. This includes even the ones you think are harmless. After all, you don’t want people knowing your identity. Also, you don’t want people stealing your meds,” says home stager Alice T. Chan.
  • Tidy up. Clear clutter, take out the trash, and do a thorough clean. Dont have time to get these things done? Hire a professional cleaning service, which costs $90 to $150 on average, according to HomeAdvisor.com. It’s money well spent.
  • Organize closets. Overstuffed closets can make your home appear to have insufficient storage space.
  • Protect yourself from theft. Secure jewelry, art, heirlooms, and other valuables. (You knew this one already, right?)
  • Open curtains and blinds. Letting natural light in will not only brighten up the space, but it can also make rooms appear larger.
  • Hide family photos. Buyers need to see a neutral field where they can put down their roots. Having your family photos on display can make that a challenge.
  • Prepare refreshments. Its one of the oldest tricks in the book, but buyers love being greeted with a warm cookie or a cold bottle of water. It’s a home-selling cliché because it actually works.

5. Pet-proof your home

If you have pets, be warned—their presence can be a huge turnoff to some home buyers, says Diane Saatchi, an East Hampton, NY, real estate broker with Saunders & Associates. So, take these steps to make sure your furry family members don’t hinder your sale:

  • Clean the yard. Be prepared for buyers to walk around your yarda stroll that will be ruined if they step in poop.
  • Remove odors. To banish traces of cat or dog urine from carpets or rugs, try a bacteria-eating pet odor remover. If the odor lingers, you might have to hire a professional cleaning service.
  • Vacuum up hair. Pet hair can trigger allergies and send potential buyers sneezing and wheezing out the door. So, vacuum and dust to remove any settled hair or dander around the house.
  • Remove pet paraphernalia. Before showings, tuck away any leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, and food.

The Lake Home Of Your Dreams Isn’t Always Perfect To Begin With

Can’t Find Your Lake Of The Ozarks Dream Home? Buy A Fixer-Upper And Make It Your Own

Earning the designation of best recreational lake in the U.S. has made the Lake of the Ozarks even more popular among visitors and home buyers. Local businesses have enjoyed the benefits of booming tourism and it’s made for an incredibly hot real estate market.

On the other hand, with home buyers from across the country eager to own a slice of paradise at Lake of the Ozarks, local real estate listings are dwindling. The Property Shop at the Lake owner Tina Stotler said this dynamic has made it especially difficult for mid-level buyers to find Lake homes that fit their budget.

“Lake-wide, we are experiencing a very low inventory of homes, both waterfront and off the water,” Stotler said. “And homes under $400,000 are particularly hard to find.”

But all is not lost. Stotler says investing in a fixer-upper is a great opportunity to purchase a lake home without breaking the bank.

Check out some before/after fixer-upper photos from a home sold by The Property Shop at the Lake:

“Fixer-uppers are an affordable way for buyers to get into a home and customize it to their lifestyle,” Stotler said, noting that obtaining a loan for renovation projects is easier today than in the past. She regularly works with lenders who understand the dynamics of renovation projects and have lengthy  experience in helping borrowers navigate the approval process.

“Lenders now have a special loan program for purchasing a fixer-upper that includes additional funds to update and remodel. There is only one closing and one closing cost.”

Stotler stressed that financing is only one of many factors to consider when purchasing a fixer-upper property. Owners should take into account the location of the house, the type of lot it sits on, waterfront issues, foundation problems, things that can and cannot be changed, as well as the overall potential of the home.

“One of the most important things to consider when purchasing is to keep an open mind. If the location of a property is good and the lot is nice, you should consider the potential in the house,” Stotler said. “Buying a property that needs work gives you the opportunity to ‘make it’ what you want.”

Still, tackling a fixer-upper is not for the fainthearted: it can be a daunting task for even experienced renovators.

Renovation projects can cost more in time and money than anticipated; and Stotler emphasizes working with a real estate professional who has relationships with local contractors and sub-contractors along with experience in guiding buyers through the fixer-upper process, is a must.

“Your Real Estate Professional should be able to help guide you with more than just the purchasing aspects of buying the property,” Stotler said. “Ask them if they have information on permitting, recommendations for contractors, making sure you can permit your dock, or replace it with a bigger dock, etc. The list is long and you want a realtor who knows the answers.”

Herself nearing the end of a lengthy journey through renovating her family’s former Lake home, Stotler is well aware of the pitfalls and the rewards of bringing new life to older homes.

“When I decided it was time to move back into a lakefront home, I looked for several months to find the perfect ‘fixer upper,’“ Stotler said. “Based on purchase price, renovation costs and accomplishing my ideal results, I realized that nothing could replace the location and the memories of my parents’ lake house.”

Stotler purchased the house from her brother and began the renovation process utilizing the craftsmanship of local contractors and sub-contractors to add 1,340 square feet and a 2-car garage to her former childhood lake home.

Nine months later, she readily admits that renovating a fixer-upper can be an arduous process, but she stresses that the final result makes it well worthwhile.

“My ‘dream home’  and ‘fixer-upper’ will be done sometime in mid-September and I’ve experienced first hand how taking on renovations, big or small is not an easy decision or an easy task,” Stotler said. “It takes a lot of imagination, cooperation and patience. But the end result can be very rewarding.”

Original Source: https://www.lakeexpo.com/advertorial/can-t-find-your-lake-of-the-ozarks-dream-home/article_60c56f36-969f-11e8-8f70-e7ca8a812457.html

     

    Beat the Crowds! How to Buy a House Before It Officially Hits the Market

    Buying a home is a lot like running a race: Once a listing goes live, buyers have to sprint off the starting block before throngs of other buyers start bidding. Talk about stressful!

    What if there were a way to buy a house before it’s officially on the market?

    Well, there is—and it can help you snag your dream house long before your competition even knows it exists.

    “Making moves to get ahead of the general public when you’re the buyer is wise if you want to get the perfect house,” says real estate investor Steve Davis, founder of Real Wealth Academy, LLC. “All it taskes is a little ingenuity and some sleuthing, to find out which homes are going on the market before the listings go live, so that you’re ready to pounce.”

    Want to get ahead of the curve? Here are some secrets for beating the crowds.

    Ask your agent about listings he’s trying to get

    Don’t just ask your real estate agent about current listings; ask if there are any listings he or she is working on where the seller hasn’t signed on yet.

    “Basically, the agent will try to find an interested buyer before they have even locked down the listing, and use that to entice the seller to sign the listing agreement with them,” says Davis. You’re basically offering yourself up as “bait,” so to speak, and the listing agent will help you do it because it’s mutually beneficial. Of course, you aren’t promising to buy a place, but if you’re seriously interested, that can be enough to get your foot in the door before the rest of the world hears about it.

    Hone in on homeowners undergoing life changes

    One great place to seek out budding home sales in a neighborhood is to infiltrate their local parenting groups. After all, parents are all in “transitional periods—with newborns, babies on the way, or young children heading off to school,” says Davis. “Thus the likelihood of these families looking to move is very high.”

    Additionally, paying attention to the “life events” of people in these areas via local papers or other outlets can also provide solid leads. Check local announcements on births, weddings, and yes, even the obituaries (a bit morbid, but many of these homes will be market-bound in the near future).

    Another place that may be plugged into upcoming sales are social clubs.

    “Utilize social clubs as a forum to ask if anyone is selling a home,” says Collin Bond, Esq., a broker at Triplemint, a company that specializes in off-market property outreach for their clients. “Clubs like the Junior League, Lions Club, or Knights of Columbus can be great places to inquire about people thinking of moving.”

    Do a mass mailing

    Sometimes, a little retro outreach can also work wonders—which is why you should consider doing a mailing to the people in the neighborhood where you wish to reside.

    Davis suggests using a company like Dietrich Direct to purchase residential mailing lists for the area you’re interested in (costs are low, starting at $25). Then draft a letter to send to all those homeowners. “In the letter, simply state that you are looking to buy a home in their area and ask if they will be selling any time in the near future,” says Davis.

    You can also post “bandit signs” in the area, essentially flyers or posters stating that you’d like to purchase a home in this area and that people should contact you if they know anyone who might sell. Davis suggests that people hesitant to post their own phone number can use a Google number or create an email account just for this purpose.

    Hit up HOA boards

    If there’s a certain building or community you’re interested in, contact its HOA or condo board and inquire if anyone has heard rumblings of any places that might soon be up for sale.

    “I’m frequently inundated by requests to see my listings before they launch, by people who’ve heard about it from the head of the board or someone in the building,” says Brian Letendre, a broker at Bohemia Realty Group.

    In fact, many neighborhoods and buildings have their own online sites, Facebook pages, or online communities, which can be a perfect way to get the insider scoop on homes or apartments about to be listed.

    “Another suggestion would be to search hashtags for the neighborhood you’re interested in on various social media platforms, and include #realestate or #moving,” adds Letendre.

    Use current listings as a springboard for up-and-comers

    Current listings may be out of the bag, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to find listings that may be waiting in the wings.

    “Go to open houses in the area where you are looking, and chat up the neighbors if you see them,” says Bond. “Ask the real estate agent and neighbors about the neighborhood, and try to work in a question about if they know of other homes becoming available.”

    Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/how-to-buy-a-house-before-its-listed-on-mls/

    Original Date: Jul  18 2018

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