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Category Archives: home-ownership

6 Decisions to Make Before Your Home Search

 

In the market for a new home but have no idea where to start? There are several decisions you should begin to make before you even start your home search. By asking yourself the right questions, you can quickly pinpoint what you want – and can afford – in your next home.

1. What’s your budget? See how your finances stand up to the 28/36 rule, which lenders use to see what you can afford to pay each month. A financial adviser or your real estate agent also can help you crunch the numbers. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process lets you know how much lenders will allow you to borrow – plus it helps you show sellers that you have the funds to backup your offer.

2. What do you need in your new home? How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? What about a large kitchen, a home office or a playroom for the kids? How many cars need covered parking? It’s critically important to ensure the home you select meets your family and lifestyle needs.

3. Do you want a condo or single-family home? Condos come with much less maintenance. You typically won’t be shoveling snow in the winter or replacing the roof, but you’ll likely pay monthly association fees to cover services and repairs in the community. Houses, on the other hand, come with more privacy and freedom to customize. They also come with full responsibility for maintenance.

4. How do you feel about living under covenants? Depending on where you buy, you may have to pay homeowner association (HOA) fees in addition to your mortgage. There are benefits to HOAs, such as maintenance, community centers, and maybe even a pool or gym. But you also could be faced with more restrictive rules about the look of the outside of your home, down to the color of your front door, types of window coverings, and whether you can plant flowers in your yard.

5. What school district do you want to be near? Even if you don’t have children in the house, local schools will affect your property value. Prospective homebuyers tend to search with education in mind. Do your research on the schools in the areas you’d like to live in.

6. Should the home be move-in ready? Ask yourself how much elbow grease you’re willing to put into a home – or how much you’ll pay someone else to do the work. Fixer-upper homes can be great after the work is done, but you’ll want to figure out your renovation budget before you start your home search. A203k home-renovation loan might be the right resource for you. If you’re not ready for the extra financial commitment of rehabbing a home, or you can’t or don’t want to wait for remodeling projects to finish up, then a home that’s move-in ready might be right for you.

After considering all these factors, you’ll be ready to start the home search with a clearer picture of where you’re headed. When that time comes, let a RE/MAX agent guide you all the way there.

Five Things to Know: Millennials and Home Buying

Millennials are now major players in the home buying arena, according to the recent Home Buyer and Generational Trends report released by the National Association of Realtors:

1. Millennials accounted for 35% of buyers in 2015. This is up from 32% in 2014, and is the third year in a row Millennials have composed the largest group of recent buyers.

2. In 2015, the number of Millennials purchasing in an urban or central city area decreased to 17% from 21% in 2014. Suburbia-phobe? Perhaps not.

3. They have help getting their foot in the door. Twenty-three percent of Millennials used a financial gift for (or toward) their down payment.

4. An online search was the first step for 56% of Millennials, whether they were looking for properties or searching for information about the home buying process.

5. Almost 90% worked with a Realtor to buy their home.

Are you a Millennial looking for your next home? Work with an agent prepared for the changing marketplace. Find one here.

6 Reasons Why Autumn & Early Winter Might Just Be the Best Time to Purchase a Home

5 Tips for a Safer Backyard

Every year in the U.S., more than 50,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room for home playground equipment-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. To keep kids safe, remember the following tips when it comes to creating and maintaining play space in your yard.

1. Soften the fall
If you have a play set in your yard, consider upgrading the ground around and below it, as kids will inevitably be landing on it from a tall height or at high speeds. About 60 percent of all playground injuries are caused by falls to the ground, and a more shock-absorbent surface can reduce the risk of serious injury. Consider sand, wood chips, pea gravel or shredded rubber.

2. Keep a safety zone
If you install equipment like swings or a trampoline, be sure to place them a safe distance from fences, trees or your house in case kids accidentally (or not!) launch themselves in that direction.

3. Go with a pro
While it’s great to have friends or family members offer to help assemble and secure your backyard play equipment, it can pay to invest in professional installation. This will help ensure the fort doesn’t collapse during your kid’s birthday party or the jungle gym doesn’t go sailing the next time the wind kicks up.

4. Inspect your equipment regularly
Standing up against the weather – and kids – can take its toll, even on the highest quality play equipment. Check the hardware and wood to make sure bolts and screws remain secure and rot (or splinter-causing flaking) doesn’t begin.

5. Beware of lawn treatments
Know what’s in any lawn treatment to make sure it’s safe for kids and pets to roll around in.

Wondering how much value your backyard adds to your home’s potential sale price? An expert who knows your local market can help calculate what your land may add to the listing price. Find one here.

Sellers: How to Decide Between Multiple Home Offers

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What a splendid dilemma! You’ve received several offers on your property. Which one should you choose? It’s not always the highest one.

Here are just some of the areas your agent could ask you to pay particularly close attention to as you’re weighing the options.

1. Do the math
This goes beyond simply calculating the dollar difference between the various offer prices. Before you do that, be sure to do all the math. Subtract things like closing costs, fees and potential repairs to determine the net proceeds of each offer.

2. Consider the financing
Can the buyer provide proof from the bank that there are funds to back the offer? Your agent can help verify this – and help you understand the terms of the buyer’s financing.

3. Motivation
Do the buyers have a baby-sitting parent in the neighborhood? A new job just around the corner? Buyers with extra motivation to purchase your home are less likely to press for concessions and more likely to work harder to close the deal. Some buyers even include a personal letter with their offer to explain why they want the home. These letters can be particularly helpful in multiple-offer situations.

4. Timeline
Note the closing date each offer proposes. You’ll want a closing date that best meets your needs. You can always counter a closing date, too, if the best offer doesn’t quite meet your timeline.

Weighing the pros and cons of each offer can be tricky. An experienced agent can help you clarify, calculate and secure the very best deal for you. Find a local RE/MAX agent who can help.

3 Ways to Separate Wants from Needs in a New Home

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Rolling Stones fans and savvy homebuyers both know you can’t always get what you want. At least not everything you want. You should, however, have some sense of what you want and what you need when you start your search for a new home. Distinguishing between the wants and needs can be tricky because so much emotion can swirl around visions of your “dream home.”

But making two separate lists of wants and needs will save you hours and energy in the long run. Here are three things to do to help you decide how to assign home features to your lists:

1. Ask yourself if you can truly live without it.

“Wants” are features that would be nice to have. “Needs” are things that you really must have to function. Be honest, can you truly live without shiny new stainless steel appliances? If yes, put them in the “Wants” column. On the other hand, an additional bedroom may belong in the “Needs” column if you’re expecting twins. Creaky knees? A ranch layout is a “need.” Occasional desire for a nap by the hearth? That fireplace is a “want.”

2. Determine if a feature could be changed or added later.

No matter how ambitious you are, some things may remain beyond your control to change, like proximity to public transportation, or quality of the local school district. If these features are critical to you, they go on the “Needs” list. On the other hand, things like patios and hardwood floors can be added later. List them as “Wants.” Your agent can probably help you talk through potential future costs of renovations and additions to accommodate your wants. Changing the bus routes, on the other hand, is probably beyond the capabilities of even the most experienced Realtor.

3. Talk it through with your agent.

A trusted Realtor can bring a much-needed dose of objectivity to your decision-making. He or she can help you visualize the day-to-day reality of living with (or without) a certain feature, as well as guide you through the math that may help you separate wants from needs.

A Realtor you can trust always goes on the “Needs” list. Find a RE/MAX All-Pro agent who can guide you through the homebuying process.

April 2015 RE/MAX National Housing Report

March home sales rose a significant 33.9% over sales in February. This marks the third largest single month increase since the RE/MAX National Housing Report began in August 2008. The total number of home sales in March was the largest total of any previous March.

March 2015 National Housing Report

Unlike last February, this February experienced increased home sales, but with only a moderate rise in prices. Home sales in February rose 7.1% from January and 2.2% from February 2014. Sales through the fall and winter months held ground, as four of the last six months saw higher sales than the same month in the previous year.

 

How Much Does My Agent Need to Know About My Finances?

Money is a delicate issue. How much we earn and how much we owe is information many of us prefer to keep close to the vest.

If you’re concerned about detailing your finances to your real estate agent, rest assured that there’s plenty of privacy in the client/agent relationship.

In their wheelhouse
Real estate agents don’t need, or expect, you to disclose everything about your money. That said, they must understand your overall situation to help guide you to a home that’s within your budget.

An agent’s job is to negotiate a home purchase or sale on your behalf, keep the transaction on track and help you navigate real estate paperwork. His or her strength lies in understanding home values, and property and neighborhood features. Home financing is an altogether separate story from a home search or sale; therefore, agents usually don’t delve into your finances to crunch the numbers.

Leave it to the lender
Agents are happy to let your mortgage lender handle the financial questioning. A loan officer at a bank or mortgage company calculates your maximum purchasing power and your monthly payments based on your loan application, financial documentation and debt-to-income ratio.

Be prepared to supply your lender with your last two years of tax returns, recent pay stubs, bank statements and investment accounts. Agents then present a lender-generated preapproval letter to listing agents, indicating the amount you’re able to borrow.

Contact your local RE/MAX All Pro agent if you have questions about buying a house or selling one. Our real estate professionals can guide you – with discretion – toward your next home.