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4 Steps to Launch the Home Buying Process

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You’ve decided you’re ready to buy your own home­ – now what? Start with these initial steps:

1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Calculate how much money you have in savings and assets, your total annual income and your expenses. Know how much of it you can allocate toward a downpayment and other expenses. Check your credit report and fix any errors. This will help you determine what type of loan you qualify for, and the price range of homes you want to look at.

2. Determine how much house you can afford.
A common rule is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax income. You can plug your information into an online mortgage calculator to get a starting idea of exactly how much you’ll pay each month with different interest rates and terms.

3. Find a real estate agent.
Interview several agents to find one that specializes in the communities you’re interested in and has experience representing buyers with the type of home you’re looking for. Search for a local agent now.

4. Shop!
It’s important that you keep an open mind and look at a wide range of properties. Go to open houses. Cruise the Internet. Peruse different neighborhoods. Your agent will also help by finding properties that match as many of your “wants” and “needs” as possible. When you fall in love with a house and are ready to make it official, your agent can help you navigate the process from putting in an offer to the closing table.

Whether you’re buying, selling or looking to make your house a home, you can find more advice on the RE/MAX blog.

RE/MAX All-Pro Open House Showcase

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Don’t forget to come out to our Open House Showcase this Sunday! 17 homes will be shown, with more than a dozen of our agents hosting!

View Listings >

 

4 Things Agents Consider When Setting Listing Prices

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There’s no online calculator for setting the perfect listing price for your home. It takes experience, market savvy, and even a bit of psychology. A strong listing agent can help you set the right, most competitive price for your home. Here are a few things they might look at:

1. The competition
Your agent will look at the prices of similar homes in your area that either are currently listed or sold during the past few months. They’ll take into account how many days the properties were on the market, and how the listing prices for those homes differed from the final sale prices.

2. Market trends
What’s affecting the market in your neighborhood, and your region? Your agent will consider national factors that shape the real estate market, such as possible rising interest rates, as well as local factors, like whether the average home price in your neighborhood has been rising or falling. They’ll also think about things such as new companies moving to the area in the near future, or plans for improving local amenities, like parks and shopping districts. All can increase the value of your home to a buyer.

3. Your neighbors
Although a home the same size and age recently sold for a high price, your own place might not fetch the exact same fortune if, say, junky cars continue to proliferate in your neighbor’s driveway. On the flipside, if the grass is in fact greener on the other side of the fence, your home’s value may be higher due to your neighbors’ curb appeal.

4. The Goldilocks price
Listing your home at a price that’s “just right” from the start is critical to selling it quickly, for the best price. Overpricing your home, and then dropping the price a few times while it sits on the market, could lead to a lower final sales price than if the home was priced appropriately from the beginning. And, of course, setting a price that’s too low leaves money on the table.

Wondering how much your home might be worth in today’s market? Find a local RE/MAX agent who can explain how these and other considerations could factor into a pricing strategy for your home.

April Housing Report

The 2016 home buying season began in March with a 33.4% jump in sales from February among the 53 metro areas surveyed for the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which is a little better than the 31.0% seven-year average of February to March increases. March sales were also 3.6% greater than sales one year ago. So far in 2016, the average year-over-year increase in home sales has been 4.9%. The median price among the Median Sales Prices of the markets in the survey in March was $204,000, which was the same median price reported in March 2015. The inventory of homes for sale remains very tight in many markets across the country, with March seeing a level that is 13.3% lower than a year ago, the exact same difference seen in February. At the rate of home sales in March, the national Months Supply of inventory was 3.2, down from 3.7 in March 2015.

The April 2016 Housing Report infograph can be found here.

September 2015 RE/MAX National Housing Report

RE/MAX researches 53 major metropolitan markets and analyzes the data to get a pulse on the US housing market. Here are some highlights from this months report. For more information about your local real estate market and what these trends mean for you, contact a local RE/MAX All-Pro agent.

August home sales were 5.0% higher than August 2014 and were 27.6% greater than the sales in August 2008, the first month of the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Completed transactions in August were 11.4% lower than in July, which was the second best month for home sales since 2008. Click here to download the August 2015 Housing Report.

May 2015 RE/MAX National Housing Report

Home sales in April were greater than in any other April since the RE/MAX National Housing Report began in 2008. This continued a three-month trend in which sales were higher than both the previous month and the same month in the previous year.

Ready to start a new career in 2014?

Are you ready to take full control of your sales career?
You’ve taken the first step – now find out more about RE/MAX All-Pro and the AV’s best real estate professionals. No one in the Antelope Valley sells more homes and the reason is simple, we know our market and provide our team with the right tools. Some of the benefits include…

Everybody Knows Your Name

  • You benefit every time a RE/MAX TV ad hits the airwaves
  • Tie your personal promotion into the national campaign
  • Create your own professional listing flyers, virtual tours and more

Get More From Your Brand

  • Thousands of top-producing agents have established the powerful reputation of “RE/MAX” for you
  • Combine your name and talents with the worldwide leader in real estate sales
  • Take your marketing Above the Crowd!® with the world-famous RE/MAX balloon

Mine Social Media for Leads

  • Post videos of your listings on the RE/MAX YouTube Brand Channel
  • Leverage RE/MAX sites on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Make a Difference

  • Support compelling causes while bolstering your business
  • Make miracles happen for sick and injured kids; connect your business to the fight against breast cancer

RE/MAX in the News

  • Share in a reputation for leadership, and the respect and visibility that comes with being part of RE/MAX

 

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Things to keep in mind when buying a home

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The benefits of home ownership

Plain and simple, owning a home can improve your quality of life, provide stability and give you a sense of control you just can’t get from renting. You have a place to live when you rent, but buying is something much deeper – and better.

The intangibles are tough to measure, but there are other benefits you can quantify:

Financial investment:
Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.

The interest on your mortgage is a tax deduction:
While this isn’t a reason in itself to buy a home, it’s nice to get a break at tax time.

Fixed monthly housing payment:
If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly rate of your mortgage won’t change for the length of the term.

Look for a house you can stay in long-term; one that will “grow” with your family and needs. The financial benefits of owning increase over time.

Look for an agent who understands your lifestyle. Make sure the agent knows the neighborhoods you’re interested in, and can answer questions you’ll have about the location.

Tax-free gain:

When it’s time to sell your home, you don’t pay taxes on the proceeds of the sale that are above what you paid (with some restrictions – see information on capital gains).

The importance of a buyers agent

A real estate transaction is a complex process involving stacks of paperwork and a number of outside service providers and contractors.

An experienced buyer’s agent can guide you through the process, answering your questions and serving as your advocate (see the Anatomy of a Home Purchase). Your agent will help you find the property that fits your needs, submit offers and counteroffers, suggest a good property inspector and other professionals, and provide all sorts of relevant advice.

With a buyer’s agent, you’ll have someone on your side, looking out for your interests every step of the way.

When seeking out a buyer’s agent, look for factors such as productivity, education and experience.

Look for an agent who understands your lifestyle. Make sure the agent knows the neighborhoods you’re interested in, and can answer questions you’ll have about the location.

What are the costs involved in hiring a buyer’s agent?

As a buyer, you don’t pay your agent directly. Instead, the agent receives an agreed-upon portion of the listing agent’s sales commission (usually about half), which is paid by the seller.

If you’re thinking this structure works against you by giving your buyer’s agent an incentive to let you pay more than you need to, consider this:

The increase in a buyer’s agent commission on, say, a $5,000 to $10,000 jump in price would be only $125 to $250. Good buyer’s agents – those who are productive and engaged in the business full time – aren’t going to risk their reputations. Your satisfaction – which can generate referrals to your friends and family – is the lifeblood of their careers.

Deciding where to live

If you’re unfamiliar with the area where you’re moving, your buyer’s agent is an invaluable resource. He or she can offer insider knowledge on neighborhoods, schools, access to recreation and shopping districts, and the many other details on local neighborhoods and subdivisions.

It’s important to have a clear picture on the features that matter most to you in a home or location. Creating a list of “must haves” and flexible “nice-to-haves” from the start will make things a lot easier for you.

Factors to consider:

1. Size of home – square footage, number of bathrooms, rooms, etc.

2. Home features – updated fixtures/appliances, property size, garage, storage, etc.

3. Location – proximity to schools, open space, entertainment, work, etc.

4. Neighborhood – older or newer homes? Families, retirees or singles?

5. Room to grow – planning to have more children?

6. Condition – move-in ready or a less expensive home in need of improvements?

Your buyer’s agent can offer advice on the countless items you should consider according to your lifestyle, budget and particulars.

Anatomy of a home purchase

For most people, finding the right home begins with a house-hunting strategy combining personal preferences, guidance from others (including an agent) and a mix of neighborhood exploring and online search.

For some, the search takes a while; others find what they want right away. In either case, your real estate agent can be a huge resource of insight and guidance, working through issues or complications that arise along the way.

Here’s a general outline of what to expect during a home purchase, from the buyer’s perspective.

Buyers make a purchase offer.
This is it! You’ve found the home of your dreams, looked over disclosure documents, reviewed comparable sales data, talked it over with your agent and submitted an offer. The sellers may accept your first offer, but more often will return a counteroffer. In fact, additional negotiations are common, and your agent will help you through this generally stressful stage.

Check out our interactive HUD-1 and GFE (Good Faith Estimate) documents so you’ll know what to expect when these appear lap during the transaction.

The sellers accept.

Once everyone is happy with the terms, the parties have reached what is known as mutual acceptance and enter into a purchase and sale agreement.

Buyers put up earnest money.
To solidify your intent to buy, you’ll place a deposit, or earnest money, on the property. The amount varies, but is generally at least 1 percent of the purchase price. You’ll write the check to the escrow company, not the seller. Note: This money counts toward your down payment later.

Escrow opens.
The earnest money deposit goes into an escrow account, where all funds will be held until closing, when they are then distributed to the right people (lender, mortgage broker, title insurer, real estate agents, etc.).

Buyers apply for a mortgage.
This step is streamlined if you’ve already been preapproved for a loan (which is a smart thing to do). If not, you’ll begin the loan application process now.

The lender inspects title history and orders a property appraisal.
The lender needs key information about the property before granting a loan. This is when potential problems can come to light. For example, the appraisal could show a lower value than the purchase price, or the lender could have trouble finding comparable homes. Also, the title search could turn up liens or other problems.

A home inspection takes place.
You’ll hire an inspector – generally, your agent will suggest one, or provide several options – to check the home and point out minor and major problems that should be fixed before closing. At this point, you still have the option of backing out of the deal. Through your agent, you’ll submit a list of requested work, and the sellers have the option to complete the tasks, do some of them but not others, or reject the request. The sides will negotiate until reaching an agreement.

Removing contingencies.
If the house passes inspection, appraisal and title search, and everything is good to go, then all contingencies can be removed, paving the way to a closing.

Closing time arrives.
Once contingencies are removed and financing is set, all parties sign a seemingly endless stack of documents, and the transaction closes.

Packing begins!
When the final signatures are in place, it’s time to put down the pens, shake hands, exchange smiles and start packing for the move!

How much house can you afford

Knowing how much you can afford to pay is a crucial step in your search. Nailing down your budget early will make the overall process more focused and less stressful.

Here’s a good way to figure out how much you can afford:

The 28/36 Rule

The 28/36 rule is an established benchmark used by many lenders to determine how much credit to offer you. Here’s how it works:

Get preapproved for a mortgage. Your lender can approve you for a certain to loan amount prior to your home search. This gives you a solid number against which you can assess the affordability of the houses you visit.

The “28” refers to the notion that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly household income should go toward housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

To calculate, simply multiply your gross monthly income (amount before taxes) by .28. Use this amount as a guide for how much house you can afford.

Example: You earn an annual salary of $70,000. Divide 70,000 by 12, giving you a monthly gross income of $5,833. Multiply that by .28, and you’ll find you should spend no more than $1,633 each month on total housing costs.

The “36” part of the 28/36 rule refers to your overall debt, which shouldn’t exceed 36 percent of your income. This is important to consider because other high monthly debt loads – such as car and credit card payments – impact the amount you can afford to spend on housing.

For first-time home buyers, the tricky part is knowing how much to budget for taxes and insurance. An experienced real estate professional can assist you with this.

 

RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon Fun Facts…

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It’s one of the most recognized corporate symbols on the planet, and understandably so. At seven stories tall, the RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon grabs attention wherever it flies.

First introduced at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 1978, the balloon perfectly represented the RE/MAX network’s “Above the Crowd” commitment to quality. Today, the nearly 120 RE/MAX Hot Air Balloons in operation comprise the largest fleet on the planet.

In logo form, the RE/MAX Balloon is even more prevalent. It adorns countless business cards, advertisements, vehicles, yard signs, billboards, websites, T-shirts – you name it. In other words, the RE/MAX Balloon is virtually everywhere, and when AV residents see it, they think of the local RE/MAX All-Pro agents they know in the Antelope Valley!

RE/MAX All Pro agents…get the job done.

RMX Power of the brandYour home is one of your largest assets! When it comes time to choose a real estate company, rest assured by putting your trust in a RE/MAX All-Pro agents hands your property will have the highest exposure the industry has to offer. Nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX. When it comes to buying or selling our agents have the experience to get the job done in today’s market. When you deal with RE/MAX All-Pro agents you will experience the highest level of service. Everything we do is designed to make home buying and selling easier for you. The market is on the rise, and you may have more equity than you think. Contact a RE/MAX agent or visit http://remaxallpro.com for a FREE market analysis to determine your homes current value.

For all the things that move you there’s RE/MAX All-Pro.