Monthly Archives: January 2019

First-Time Home Buyers: What You Should Consider Before Making an Offer


A lot of first-time home buyers get in over their heads.  They fall in love with a home before doing any research and end up signing on the dotted line with a home that is too expensive, needs more work than they expected, and are driving longer then they had expected to work each day.  There is a lot to think about when buying a home, three main issues being the offer price, the condition of the home, and location. 

Offer Price:

The offer of the home should be based on more than that it is comparable with other homes on the market. A home’s asking price is the price that is set before an appraisal has been done.  In reality an offer should than only be based on comparable houses in the area that have already closed and not by what others in the area are asking for their homes. 

 The Homes Condition:

When you are pricing out home repairs don’t automatically assume that they will be up into the thousands of dollars.  Also, don’t assume that you can take the cost of repairs off the offer price of a home as some sellers have already adjusted the asking price to consider these repairs. 

Location of the Home:

The area in which the home is located has a lot to do with the price at which the house will sell for.  Consider the location of the home for a number of reasons including how close it is to work and school but also be aware of the physical location.  See if there are train tracks close or it is in a high traffic area, those things will affect the resale value when go to sell.  Consider if granite counter tops and an additional bathroom are worth the inconvenience of a commuter train coming through the backyard every day.

Now-a-days with the internet there is a lot more information available in real time to both realtors and first-time home buyers.  It is important to keep in mind that not all of the information on the internet will be accurate, but it is a starting point.

Some websites offer free estimates to value your home.  They make a lot of assumptions about the value of properties in a neighborhood based on other homes that have sold but for homes that are non-conforming these can be inaccurate.  Consider these to be generalities and not substitutes for the research a realtor provider or an appraisal gives.

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



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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



6 Presale Home Improvements Sellers Wish They’d Never Made

smart-home-reno-regrets
narvikk/iStock

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

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

Regret No. 1: Going too trendy

Photo by Sweetlake Interior Design LLC

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

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

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

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

Regret No. 2: Smart house, dumb decision

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

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

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

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

Regret No. 3: Adding a guesthouse

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

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

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

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

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

Regret No. 4: Rehabbing the roof

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regret No. 5: DIYing to cut corners

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

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

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

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

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

Regret No. 6: Opening Pandora’s box

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

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

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

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

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

Original Date: Dec 3, 2018

Written By: Margaret Heidenry