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Category Archives: housing - Page 2

Sell that home!

2015-05-Sell that home

Selling a house can be stressful. Making the decision, preparing the house for sale, keeping it clean, waiting for a buyer, dealing with offers, and advancing to the closing table – all of these steps can involve discomfort. This is a huge financial transaction with many emotional aspects. But you can get it done – and it may even be easier than you anticipate. One thing to keep in mind is that you’re not alone. An experienced, professional real estate agent can guide you through the process, help resolve any issues that come up, and ensure that your home sells for the optimal price in a timely manner.

Home Seller Mistake No. 1: Pricing Too High

“I can always lower the price later if I don’t get any offers.”

That statement costs home sellers millions of dollars every year.

Yes, you can always lower your asking price, but that’s not a good strategy. Time and time again, experience shows that sellers who list competitively from the start get a better price than sellers who list high and then go lower and lower.

Why? Psychology.

When you price too high, here’s what buyers think:

“Wow, three price cuts in the last four months… There must be something wrong with that house.”

“With all the price cuts on this house, the sellers must be desperate. Let’s offer them far below what they’re asking and see if they bite.”

Sound Pricing Strategies

A far smarter approach is to find a knowledgeable agent who understands the local market and then work together on setting the right price. A good agent can help you avoid the overpricing trap.

An experienced agent will help set the right price for your home by considering the following:

Similar homes, via a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): Your agent will provide a professional analysis that goes deep into stats about recent sales and current listings similar to your home in size, age, condition and features. Sales within the past six months are especially relevant.

General market conditions: Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market in your community? It’s important to note that what’s happening nationally may not reflect local conditions. Your agent can explain the difference and clear up any misconceptions you may have.

Find a local RE/MAX AllPro agent who can tell you all about helping you meet your real estate goals.

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.

9 Signs You’re in Love With Your House

2015-02-LoveHome
How deep do your feelings go for the place you call home? Here are some indicators you’re completely head over heels.

You know you’re in love with your house when:

1. You can’t wait to see it at the end of the day. In fact, you catch yourself daydreaming about being there.

2. You have trouble sleeping when you’re away too long, and your own bed is the only place you want to be by the time you return.

3. You sometimes put its needs ahead of your own – like cleaning the gutters instead of watching the game.

4. You manage to return from most shopping trips with at least one item just for the house. “Those outdoor lights would look great on the garage.” Sound familiar?

5. You seem to have more photos of all the great projects you’ve completed than you do of the people who live there.

6. You lose track of time on the weekends and sometimes stay there for days at a time.

7. You do everything you can to protect it because you would be devastated if anything bad ever happened to it.

8. You appreciate every one of its quirks. The creaking floors might bother someone else, but they make you feel like the house is happy you’re there.

9. You feel the chemistry, but you can’t explain it. It just feels like home – plain and simple.

Perhaps your current place is not so lovable and you’re ready for something new. It is a good idea to sit down and clarify your motivations and draw up a basic time frame for the selling and property search process. Do you intend to simply find a larger property, or do you plan on moving to another neighborhood, school district, city or state?  You might think your reasons are obvious, but it would do well to consider the implications of each option for your lifestyle, opportunities, and finances.  Being clear about your intentions for selling will make it easier to determine the most appropriate option for your specified financial, lifestyle, and real estate goals.

Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent who can guide you every step of the way.

National Housing Report : Home Sales Up

Defying the normal trend, home sales in December rose above the number of November sales by a significant 14.4%. Sales were also 3.9% above those of last December. Although home sales have generally been lower in 2014 than 2013, three of the last four months have experienced sales higher than the same month last year. Home prices in December were also higher than one year ago, rising 5.9%. Inventory continues to be constrained, with 10.7% fewer homes for sale than last December. As a result, the Months Supply of inventory rose to 5.7 on a scale where 6.0 indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers.

See the full report here : http://remaxallpro.com/pdfs/REMAX-National-Housing-Report-Jan2015.pdf

4 Ways to Get Involved in Your Neighborhood

2015-01GetInvolved
What can you do if you want to get involved in your new neighborhood? Here are four ideas to help you connect and get acquainted with your neighbors. If you have more ideas, let us know!

1. Join a group. Most neighborhoods have public forums, such as city or town council and citizen advisory group meetings, that address specific community issues. Groups like these allow you to get involved in the issues directly affecting your neighborhood. They’re also an excellent way to meet like-minded people. An online search should give you some ideas of where to begin. If your neighborhood has a homeowners association, talk with the officers about the kind of support they need. Check NextDoor.com for online communities in your city.

2. Volunteer. Identify a cause you feel passionate about, and think about donating your time and skills to a local organization. They’ll appreciate any amount of time you can give. Volunteering offers an opportunity to make meaningful friendships with people who also live and volunteer in the community. Start by visiting neighborhood hospitals, animal shelters and community arts groups or schools, to inquire about volunteering opportunities. Youth sports teams are also an excellent way to get involved. If you’re having trouble locating a volunteer organization that fits you, visit the local public library and ask for suggestions.

3. Organize an Event. Donation drives, block parties and other group activities can be efficient and fun ways to meet neighbors and establish yourself as someone who’s invested in the community. Share your idea by dropping off fliers. Include an email address and ask neighbors to contact you if they’re interested. You can schedule a meeting for everyone who replies to generate more ideas and make plans for an event.

4. Fill a Need. If you feel your neighborhood is underserved in any regard, get the ball rolling yourself. For example, start a neighborhood association if your community doesn’t have one, or institute an adopt-a-block program to keep your neighborhood clean. Similarly, your neighborhood might benefit from a volunteer Neighborhood Watch group. ​

 

New Buyers: 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success

2015-01-4waystosetforsuccessAs one of the largest financial decisions in a person’s life, buying a home requires discretion, sensibility and budgeting. The following tips will keep you on the right path as you look to purchase your first place.

1. Keep score
The better your credit score is, the better your mortgage terms will be. A good credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Start reviewing your credit a few months before you apply for a home loan. If you have a score in the 600s or lower, start paying down credit balances to 30 percent or less of your balance. Also make bill and debt payments on time – no later than 30 days after the due date. If you have a score in the 700s or 800s, be sure to maintain and protect your good credit. The slightest credit misstep can cause a strong credit score to plunge more sharply than a weak score.

2. Consider all costs
The cost of a home is just the start, and smart buyers tighten their belts before buying to meet the monthly and yearly financial demands of homeownership. When you buy a home, you’re responsible for paying principal and interest, taxes and insurance. Additionally, you’ll need to cover expenses such as utilities and possibly homeowner association dues. You’ll also need cash on hand for the upkeep and repair costs that come with any home. The average homeowner spends 1 percent to 4 percent of a home’s value on property maintenance each year, according to U.S. News & World Report. Expect to pay for repairs or maintenance even within the first year of owning your home.

3. Be flexible in your search
Homebuyers who distinguish between wants and needs make the most sensible decisions. A list of must-haves should include items that affect your quality of life, such as a home’s location, its price, number of bedrooms and square footage. You should be prepared to concede nonessential items, such as views and extra rooms, if you find a house meets your must-haves and is within your budget. Being flexible also involves adjusting your criteria as the home search progresses. For example, your budget may require looking at a town house rather than a detached home, or buying a fixer-upper in order to live in a better neighborhood.

4. Keep your cool
Don’t get overly excited in your search, especially in markets where homes are selling quickly. A bit of self-restraint prevents you from overspending or choosing a home that doesn’t fully fit your needs. Be prepared to walk away if a home inspection reveals more defects in a home than you’re able to deal with. Also, keep calm if you find yourself in a bidding war. Your agent can help you make the most competitive offer, and if it doesn’t get accepted then your agent can help you find the next great option. Finding the right home that fits your lifestyle and budget can take weeks or months. By starting early and being patient, you’ll avoid the sense of urgency that often drives homebuyers to make hasty decisions.

Don’t go it alone. Find a RE/MAX All Pro agent who can guide you every step of the way.

New Year’s Pledges for Home Sellers

2014-12NewYears

The New Year is a time for resolutions. If you’re thinking about selling your home in 2015, here are some resolutions that could help boost your chances of a quick sale.

Repeat to yourself: “I pledge to…”

“Avoid drastic design changes” – Unless you plan to turn your bold color palette into a more neutral one, then it’s best not to try and anticipate what buyers want in design and décor. The best approach to freshening up your home for sale is to simplify and depersonalize the look and feel so that potential buyers can picture building their own lives there. If you think repainting a bright purple wall, replacing an old toilet or buffing and restaining kitchen cabinets would help the home sell, by all means make these types of updates. Just be sure to keep your personal preferences in check. Your real estate agent can help you prioritize and remain objective.

 “Stop neglecting the drippy faucet” – This applies to any repairs you might view as minor but actually could be a symptom of a larger system problem. Addressing things like plumbing leaks, poor ventilation and cracks in walls helps everyone avoid surprises from the inspection report and avoid the delay or even cancellation of a sale. When you have the information, you can either make the fixes or work with your agent to adjust pricing during negotiations with the buyer.

“Price my home reasonably” – It’s understandable to think your home is the best on the block and worth more than all the others – especially if you’ve invested in key upgrades and remodels. And, frankly, you might be right. But the only way to truly know is to consider recent sales of comparable homes in your area. Your real estate agent can provide you with the latest information and help you list at a competitive price that’s appropriate for your area and the local real estate climate.

 “Make my home inviting” – This starts with creating curb appeal. The condition of your home’s exterior is a big part of getting buyers in the door. Maintaining the yard, sweeping the porch and driveway, replacing the tattered welcome mat, replacing missing house numbers, and removing clutter all are things that can help improve curb appeal.

 “Thin out the clutter” – The best time for making tough decisions about what stays and what goes is BEFORE you put your home on the market. By the time the for-sale sign goes up, the home should be clutter free. You can either toss things you don’t want, sell these items, or move the more personal ones to storage. The types of items to remove include your prized knick-knack collection, clothes overflowing from the closets, and family photos. You want all closets and cupboards to appear as spacious as possible. When they’re jam-packed, it gives the impression that storage is limited even if that’s not the case.

“Clean like I’ve never cleaned before” – Think about under, behind, around and between. It’s easy to focus on cleaning the major surfaces, high-traffic areas, and areas that are visible. But what about the dust on top of the refrigerator? How about the slats in the window blinds? Have you cleaned the cabinets under the kitchen or bathroom sink recently? Did you notice the cobwebs behind the guest-room door? Look high and low for the dirt.

“Nail down my next step” – Don’t let your new plans and new place get lost in the shuffle of selling your old place. Determine where you’ll go next before your home goes up for sale. Are you prepared to move if your home sells that quickly? Although it might not be typical, a quick sale is certainly possible. On the other hand, are you prepared if your home doesn’t sell quite so quickly? Be sure to talk with your real estate agent about your relocation needs and timeline.

Find a local RE/MAX All pro agent who can tell you all about his or her own resolutions for helping you meet your real estate goals.

5-Point Action Plan for Your New Place

2014-12-5point-ActionPlan

After waiting weeks for the keys to your new home, you probably want to treat yourself to something nice.

Here are some quick home improvements you’ll likely be happy with:

1. Practical problems first.
Prioritize easy repairs and upgrades that affect your day-to-day living, such as leaky faucets, dirty or worn fixtures, poor paint choices, holes that need patching or flooring that needs updating.

2. Head-to-toe detail.
Detailing isn’t just for your vehicle. Your new home deserves deep cleaning, too. Take advantage of it being completely empty, and hire someone to clean every inch.

3. Consider the view.
The right window treatments improve a home’s ambiance, comfort and privacy. They can even save you money in the long run. Drapes, curtains, blinds and shutters block unwanted light, let in the right amount of sunshine and keep your home warm or cool when drawn or shut.

4. Bright ideas.
Proper lighting also affects your comfort. After you arrange furniture, pay close attention for a few weeks and note which areas are too dark and which get too much light. From there, you can decide whether new overhead lightning, lamps or bulbs will do the trick.

5. The right appliances.
Major appliances – refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and stoves – impact your daily life, your home’s appearance and your utility bills. Purchasing the right appliances now can set you up for savings and efficiency for years to come.

Just starting the home buying process? Contact a local RE/MAX All Pro agent who can help you find the right place.

What Goes Into Making an Offer Below Asking Price?

2014-11OffersBelowAskingPrice

You’ve found a house you love. It’s the perfect size, layout, condition and even has your must-haves. There’s only one problem. The seller’s asking price is too high. It’s time for the phase of home buying that most people dread and even fewer are skilled at: the art of negotiation.

Make no mistake, negotiation is part skill and part art form. An experienced buyer’s agent will know how to finesse the contract negotiations and save you a lot of hassle. Your gut might tell you that the asking price for the house is too much, but you’ll have a better chance of getting a lower offer accepted if your agent can back it up with facts.

A few key elements:

Comparables and Statistics
The best way to determine the fair market value of a house is to measure its asking price against similar homes that have sold in the same area, providing a set of numbers known as comparables or comps. Your agent will handle this, providing data from the local multiple listing service, or MLS. This gives you a baseline starting point. Your agent will also consider other factors, including the original listing price of similar homes versus their selling price, as well as the number of days the house has been on the market. All of this information can help make a better factual case for making an offer lower than the asking price.

Following a Process
Your agent will prepare a written offer to submit to the seller or seller’s agent. Along with this written proposal, your agent can present facts such as the comps and other data to justify your offer. When the seller sees this in writing, you have a much stronger case. Also, writing a letter to the sellers about your situation and your feelings about their home can make a big impression.

Seller Motivation
One of the strongest negotiating factors is understanding the seller’s motivation. This may be hard to do on your own, but your agent may be able to help. If your agent learns, for example, that the sellers are moving and have closed on a house elsewhere, this tells you they’re probably motivated to sell quickly. Knowledge is power – especially in negotiations.

Making Your Lower Offer Work for Them
Sometimes buyers can make their lower offers more palatable to sellers by offering concessions or compromises. Something as simple as being flexible on a closing date can be attractive. If, for instance, the sellers are facing a one-month gap between the sale of the current home and their purchase of the next, they might appreciate it if your offer included an extension of the closing date or an opportunity to lease their home back from you for a month. If you don’t need assistance from the sellers to pay closing costs, they could see this as a big plus. Also, having a pre-approval letter from your mortgage lender is one of your best advantages. This tells sellers that your financing is secure and not likely to fall through.  It can be a gamble for sellers to accept an offer from someone who hasn’t yet secured financing.

Making the Asking Price Work for You
Depending on how far off the asking price is from your budget and your understanding of the home’s value, you and your agent might consider agreeing to the full asking price but requesting additional concessions from the sellers. For instance, your agent could include in the offer a request for the sellers to pay your closing costs. Perhaps there are household items, such as the washer and dryer, you would be interested in keeping; these also can be written into an offer. A home warranty is another item sellers may agree to purchase for you. These types of seller concessions could offset the gap you and your agent see between asking price and the fair market price.

A Backup Plan
Not all negotiations result in an agreement. Sometimes the parties are too far apart in price, and there’s nothing to be done. In these cases, your agent can be ready with other properties that fit your needs. In any negotiation, you have more leverage if you’re willing to walk away.

The End Game
Above all, remember that negotiating the price you’re willing to pay for a house is just that – a negotiation. You’re trying to reach an agreement that’s acceptable to both you and the sellers. The object isn’t to beat the sellers or win the negotiation. The object is to purchase the house. Good agents know this – and will use their expertise to make it happen.

Find a local RE/MAX All-Pro agent who can guide you through the negotiating process.

Breaking/Good News for Housing Industry

2014-10HousingIndustryNews

Two monumental decisions in U.S. housing regulations this week are major victories for homebuyers – and the housing industry at large.

For starters, the final qualified residential mortgage, or QRM, rule eliminates the highly controversial requirement of a specific down payment amount, bringing the rule in line with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s qualified mortgage, or QM, rule. The latter was created to protect borrowers from predatory lending practices.

Another victory for housing: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are releasing new guidelines that will allow borrowers with lackluster credit profiles to obtain loans with a down payment as low as 3 percent by considering “compensating factors.” Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt, who oversees both Fannie and Freddie, announced the government’s new plan in hopes of quelling lenders’ fears when the government-backed loans they sell go sour.

Additionally, Fannie and Freddie also plan to loosen demands on lenders to buy back defaulted mortgages, creating more stability, confidence and clarity for the lending industry.

RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly applauded the announcements, which ultimately help first-time homebuyers, as well as those who earn lower incomes, to more easily obtain government-backed loans.

“This is great news for our industry, and it’s a welcomed change we’ve been advocating at RE/MAX,” Kelly says. “Taking a measured but less stringent approach to lending creates more stable housing conditions and, most importantly, opens the doors to homeownership for qualified, willing homebuyers who’ve been sidelined in the wake of the downturn.”

Read more about these key housing developments:

NAR: QRM Mortgage Rule Could Ease Credit for Consumers
Los Angeles Times: Regulator unveils plan to spur lending by Fannie, Freddie
New York Times: Federal Housing Finance Agency Unveils Plan to Loosen Rules on Mortgages