Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 Questions

Are You Ready for Home Ownership? Find Out by Answering These 4 QuestionsHave you been dreaming about a larger, roomier or more luxurious living space? Or perhaps just want to experience the joy of owning your own home and building your net worth instead of renting? Let’s explore a few questions that can help to answer whether or not you’re ready for a new lifestyle as a homeowner.

Can You Realistically Afford To Buy A Home?

The first consideration to make is a financial one: can you afford it? Buying in a home is a significant financial investment. In most cases you’ll need to manage monthly mortgage payments for many years. The good news: owning a home is a more affordable than you might think. If you’re already a stable renter then you’re most of the way there.

Do You Have Your Down Payment Saved Up?

If you’re confident that monthly payments are no problem, then the next step is saving up enough to cover your down payment. This is a lump-sum investment that you make when you buy the home. Typically your down payment is around 20 percent of the home’s cost, but there are assistance programs which can reduce this further.

Do You Know What Type Of Home You Need?

Once you’ve cleared all of the financial hurdles, you will next need to decide exactly what kind of home you need. If you’re a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home from which you can upgrade later. Or you might prefer something more rural which comes with more yard space, perfect for pets.

Are You Ready To Set Down Some Roots?

Finally, it’s worth taking some time to decide whether or not you’re ready to emotionally and physically invest in your local community. Is your career stable enough that you won’t be moving for at least a few years? What about that of your partner or spouse? If you don’t already, do you envision having children in the future? All of these are considerations that will help you choose the right neighborhood.

When you are ready, our professional real estate team is here to help you find the home of your dreams. To learn more about buying a home and to view homes that are perfect for first-time buyers, contact us today.

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let's Take a Look

Should You Get a Home Inspection Before Selling Your Home? Let's Take a LookIs it time to upgrade or move on to a new home? If you are planning on listing your home for sale in the near future, you will have a few key considerations to make. Do we paint? Finish the basement into a suite? Renovate the bathroom, or leave it?

However, before you start worrying about renovations it can be helpful to understand how your home has stood the test of time. Let’s have a quick look at a few reasons why you may want to consider investing in a professional home inspection before selling your home.

Assessing Your Home’s Current Condition

Give some thought to your home’s current condition. How old is it? When was its last professional inspection? Has your home suffered any significant weather or other kinds of damage? Take a walk around and look at the key structural areas. Do you see any issues with the roof? How do the walls or siding look? Are there visible cracks in the home’s foundation? If there are obvious issues, it is time for an inspection.

Do You Need A Speedy Sale?

Another excellent reason to get your home inspected early in the selling process is that it’s likely to speed things along. If there are any repairs required, you can have them taken care of before you start staging your home, having professional photos taken and hosting open houses.

A recent inspection can also give you a competitive edge over nearby or similar homes that are for sale. It signals to potential buyers that you have done some of the heavy lifting in the process and that they are unlikely to uncover any major issues when they have their own inspection done.

Take Care Of ‘Deal Breaker’ Problems

Finally, a home inspection ensures that you will be able to take care of any potential deal-breaking issues that could ruin a sale. Even if you decide to skip repairing some of the minor issues, taking care of things like cracks in your foundation, mold problems or old electrical wiring will all help with keeping your sale on track.

These are just a few of the great reasons to invest in a professional home inspection before listing your home for sale. To learn more about the home selling process or to get started, contact your local real estate professionals.

4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making Them

4 Mistakes That Plague First-Time Home Sellers and How to Avoid Making ThemAre you thinking about selling your home? If this is your first time going through the selling process, you may be wondering just how well things are going to go. Selling a home is usually a smooth process – there are thousands sold each day – but issues can arise if you’re not careful. Let’s explore four mistakes that are commonly made by first-time home sellers and how you can avoid them.

Trying To Sell Without Experienced Representation

The first and most significant mistake that some first-time sellers make is to try to go it alone. Selling a house is a major financial and legal transaction and one where experience is crucial in getting things right. Invest in an agent who has a track record of quick, efficient sales and you’re going to have an advantage.

Choosing Emotion Over Reason

Next, you’ll want to avoid letting your emotions control how you react or respond during the selling process. Many homeowners become emotionally attached to their homes, which is fine while you’re living there but can be a problem when you’re selling. It’s important to let logic and reason guide the sale. Don’t let yourself get caught up emotionally or you may make a critical mistake.

Pricing Outside Of A Realistic Range

Asking too much – or too little! – for their home is another common mistake made by first-time home sellers. It’s critical to understand that the local real estate market has a lot of influence on the correct asking price for your home. Current listings and recent sales of similar homes in the area tend to set a price range in the minds of buyers so these will need to be observed. Your real estate agent will be a big help in choosing the right sale price.

Selling At The Wrong Time

The final mistake we’ll cover today is listing your home for sale in the wrong environment. The local real estate market is in a constant state of change due to a variety of factors. The seasons, other local home listings, interest rates, new home construction, local municipal zoning changes and all sorts of other factors can influence your sale. Unless you are under a time constraint, it’s best to let your agent advise you when it’s a good time to list your home.

Selling your first home can be a daunting experience, but with the right frame of mind and professional representation, it will go smoothly. To learn more about the home selling process or to list your home for sale, contact us today. We are happy to assist you.

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't Refuse

Win the Bidding War With Our 5 Minute Guide to Making an Offer the Seller Won't RefuseAsk any experienced homeowner and you’ll learn that buying in a ‘hot’ real estate market can be challenging. A high supply of buyers competing for a low stock of available homes is a combination that can lead to bidding wars, price inflation, and other headaches. The good news: with some careful preparation and the right mindset, a bidding war is one that you can win. Read on to learn how you can beat out other bidders by making an irresistible offer.

Start With Strong Representation

Answer this question honestly: are you an experienced negotiator? Unless you have made a career out of buying and selling homes, you may find that your skills are lacking. The middle of a bidding war is a poor time to have this realization, so it’s best to start the process with strong professional representation. Invest the time in securing the services of an experienced real estate agent who has a history of successful home purchases and happy clients. For extra assurance, ask them for recent testimonials so you can hear how they helped other buyers.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Mortgage Financing

Now that you have a good real estate agent on your side, you’ll want to move to the next step: meeting with a mortgage lender. Your goal is to secure pre-approval for your mortgage financing, which will show the seller that you’re both prepared and serious about buying their home. Gather up recent financial information like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements before meeting with a mortgage professional. Being prepared will make the approval process a bit easier.

Have The Appraisal And Inspection Team Ready

Once you have found your dream home, you will need to move quickly to have it appraised and inspected. As with your other professionals, it’s best to pre-book these companies ahead of time so they’re ready to go. Ask your friends and family for referrals now so you can chat with potential appraisers and inspectors.

Be Serious About A Quick Closing Process

Finally, if it isn’t already obvious to them, make it clear to the seller that you’re interested in closing quickly. Every home seller is interested in a fast, efficient close so they can move on. Pushing the pace a bit will demonstrate that you’re not going to reverse course.

When you are ready to buy your dream home, our professional real estate team is here to help. Contact us today and we’ll share how we have helped other locals buy some amazing properties. We look forward to meeting you!

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 13, 2017

Last week’s economic news included a survey of senior loan officers, Freddie Mac’s average mortgage rates, and new jobless claims. An index reading for consumer sentiment was also reported.

Loan Officers: Standards for Residential Real Estate Loans Eased or Unchanged

According to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Senior Loan Officers,72 institutions surveyed reported that all types of residential real estate loans saw easing of lending standards or no change in lending requirements. Demand for real estate loans eased, which likely influenced financial institutions decision not to tighten lending criteria for home loans. In contrast, banks surveyed indicated tighter lending requirements for auto loans and credit cards.

Mortgage Rates Fall, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week.30-year fixed rates averaged 3.90 percent; 15-year fixed rates averaged 3.24 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rates averaged 3.22 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages. Lower mortgage rates were good news for home buyers who continue to face high home prices coupled with competition by cash buyers.

First-time jobless claims increased by 10,000 new claims to 239,000 new claims. Analysts expected a reading of 231,000 new claims based on the prior week. The week-to-week reading, which can be volatile, was eclipsed by the four-week rolling average of new claims, which hit its lowest reading since March 1973.

The bump in weekly first-time jobless claims was caused by a backlog in jobless claims filed in Puerto Rico. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Computer and infrastructure problems caused delays in claim filing.

Consumer sentiment dipped in November to an index reading of 97.8 as compared to an expected reading of 100.7 and October’s reading, also 100.7; Indicators of rising inflation concerned consumers, according to the University of Michigan, which conducts the survey.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, housing starts, building permits issued and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. Monthly readings on inflation and retail sales will also be released.

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit Score

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit ScoreIn the market for a new home in 2018? With the new year just a few short weeks away, that leaves you with precious little time to get your finances in order. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you get a jump on improving your credit score before the end of the year.

Grab A Fresh Copy

The first step is to order a fresh copy of your credit report from one of the major agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. So, if you have not ordered a copy recently, it is time to do so. You can access this free service through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a website recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Clean Up Anything Outstanding

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, it’s time to go through it, line-by-line. You should recognize every current and outstanding account in the report. Any balances owing should be in order and reflect how much you owe. It’s critical that you flag any mistakes or old debts that you have already paid in full. If you come across anything that shouldn’t be on your credit report, call the reporting agency to let them know. If necessary, they will assist you with challenging the issue.

Pay Down Those High-Interest Debts

The final tip in today’s guide is to prioritize your outstanding debts so that you can pay them off more efficiently. The essential debt payments are your mandatory minimums, which you need to pay to avoid being sent to a collection agency. From there, try to pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first. Getting these paid off faster means that over time, you’re spending less on interest payments. Moreover, you can use that extra cash to pay your debts down further.

The above are just a few of the action steps that you can take today to start improving your credit score. When you’re ready to begin searching for your new home, contact your local real estate professionals.

Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging Tips

Buying a New Home? Make Your Move Easier With These Three Purging TipsAre you thinking about buying a new house or apartment? While the prospect of a new home is undoubtedly exciting, you may be dreading the thought at having to pack everything up and move. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips for purging old, unwanted or forgotten items before making a move into a new home.

Sort Everything That You Don’t Need

The first step you will want to take is to sort everything in your home. Many families go through the house, room-by-room, separating their must-have items from everything else. At first, this process is quick as there are many items just sitting around waiting to be thrown out. However, you are bound to find some older keepsakes that are much harder to let go. In the end, you’ll want to ensure that you only keep those goods that are important to you. Everything else should go.

Host A (Virtual) Yard Sale And Consider Consignment

Now that you have everything in your home sorted, it’s time to host a yard sale. If you are so inclined, you can run a traditional sale where you place everything out on the lawn on a Saturday morning and put up signs to let the neighborhood know. Alternatively, you can run a virtual yard sale through the web and app-based classifieds like Craigslist.

You may also want to consider calling up local consignment shops to see if they’ll take some of your unwanted goods. A consignment store will sell your items for you and keep a portion of the sale price as a fee. This can be a useful option if you have antiques or other goods that are more popular with an older crowd.

Donate Everything Else

Is there anything left in your home? If so, it’s time to hand over this last bit of unwanted clothing, furniture or appliances to your local charity. Many charitable organizations will come and pick up your unwanted items, which saves you from having to drive a load of stuff over somewhere to drop it off. Call up your charity of choice and see if they accept donations. If not, they will be able to refer you to other local organizations that are interested.

Purging your older or unwanted items is a surefire way to make your move easier. If you’re in the market for a new home, or for more information about real estate opportunities in the local area, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to show you around.

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - November 6, 2017

Last week’s economic news included readings on Case-Shiller home prices, construction spending, and consumer sentiment. Labor sector readings on private and public employment and the national unemployment rate were also released. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

CaseShiller: Home Price Growth Approaches Record

Home price growth approached a record set in 2006 in August, but analysts said that affordability and the shortage of homes for sale could signal slower growth ahead. David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the S&P Index Committee, said that while home prices appeared to be “unstoppable,” signs of slowing momentum could signal the end of rapid home price growth.

Case-Shiller’s national home price index reported a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 6.10 percent as compared to July’s corresponding reading of 5.90 percent. The 20-City Index reading was 1.80 percent short of the record set in 2006. Seattle, Washington led home price growth with a reading of 13.20 percent year-over-year. Las Vegas, Nevada held second place with a seasonally-adjusted annual growth rate of 8.60 percent and San Diego, California held third place in the 20-City Index with a reading of 7.80 percent.

While the West continued to post highest home price gains, some home price gains are leveling out. San Francisco, California, which posted double digit home price growth in recent years, posted 6.10 percent growth year-over-year and a negative reading of -0.10 percent in August as compared to July.

September construction spending rose due to public works projects and housing construction. This was good news as a shortage of available homes has daunted real estate sales in past months. Building more homes is the only solution to the ongoing shortage of homes for sale. Construction spending 4ose0.30 percent in September as compared to an expected reading of no change, which was based on August’s reading of 0.10 percent.

Mortgage Rates Little Changed, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported no change in the average rate of 3.94 percent. Average rates for a 15-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were each two basis points higher at 3.27 percent and 3.23 percent respectively. Average discount points were 0.50 percent for all three mortgage types. The President is expected to announce the appointment of a new Federal Reserve Chair this week, which could impact interest rates either way.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 229,000 claims filed as compared to expectations of 235,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 234,000 new jobless claims. Private-sector employment grew by 235,000 jobs in October as compared to September’s reading of 110,000 new private-sector jobs.

The Commerce Department reported 261,000 new public and private-sector jobs in October. Analysts expected 325,000 new jobs, but September’s reading was adjusted to 18,000 new public and private sector jobs added. The national unemployment rate dipped to 4.10 percent as compared to an expected reading of 4.10 percent and September’s reading of 4.20 percent.

Consumer confidence grew to an index reading of 125.9 in October as compared to analysts’ expected reading of 121.3 and the prior month’s reading of 119.5.

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our Homes

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our HomesAre you ready for the coming shift to driverless cars? While it might seem like some sort of futuristic vision, the truth is that driverless vehicles will be on the road within a few short years. Let’s explore three key ways that driverless cars are going to help to shape how we think about our homes in the very near future.

#1: Goodbye, Garages

It might seem a bit strange to think about now, but many people are likely to get rid of their cars entirely. Car ownership is expected to shift to entrepreneurs and services who offer vehicles for on-demand use. We are already starting to see this transition take place, especially with city dwellers who are becoming familiar with Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. So, if you do not own a car, having a garage attached to your house does not make much sense.

Consider the many uses that a family can get from the space currently occupied by a garage full of cars. Your house footprint can be that much bigger, or you can convert that area into more yard space.

#2: Get Used To Smaller Streets And More Efficient Land Use

The second significant change you are going to see is a complete re-imagining of how we design and use our streets. Fewer people will own cars that need to be parked along the side of the street. Also, self-driving cars can move elsewhere for storage when they’re not needed. This combination will allow city planners to thin streets, freeing up land use for bike lanes, boulevards or larger yard areas. If you are the type that enjoys having a beautiful big front lawn, the coming shift to driverless cars will benefit you.

#3: More Space Means More Green Space

Finally, expect to see a lot more green space around your house in the future. You will have more space for landscaping, flower beds, gardens, trees and other yard fixtures. Even if you do end up owning a driverless car in the future, it’s likely to be electric. The most substantial commitment you will need to make is either a charging plug and wall fixture or a large ground pad that the car sits on when it needs to top off the batteries.

There are few who doubt that driverless cars are going to cause a major shift in how we live, work and move from place to place. If you’re looking to take advantage of this shift when you buy your next home, contact us. Our team of real estate professionals will be happy to share excellent home listings that will be perfect for those looking to change how they use their car.

Real Estate 101: What Is a "Short Sale" And How Does It Work? Let's Take a Look

Real Estate 101: What Is a Are you on the hunt for great deals on a local home? If so, you have probably heard about “short sale” homes, although it can take a bit of searching to find one. Let’s take a closer look at real estate short sales to learn how they work and when you might want to take advantage.

What Is A Real Estate Short Sale?

A real estate short sale takes place when a homeowner sells their home for less than they owe on it. This tends to take place in volatile real estate markets where a substantial price increase took place with a rapid price decrease following after.

Whatever the case, the homeowner is now facing a home with less value than their mortgage. They may approach their lender about a short sale, or the lender may force it on them. A short sale can take place even if a homeowner is still making their monthly mortgage payments on time, although that is somewhat rare.

Stick With The Pros When Buying A Short Sale

Without question, if you are considering buying a short sale home you will want to work with an experienced real estate agent. Short sales take place due to a variety of circumstances, few of which are positive. You will want a real estate professional who knows the ins-and-outs of the short sale process and will protect your interests. They can also help you understand what happens with the outstanding debt on the property.

Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Short Sale Home

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of stories about short sale buyers who made a poor decision when trying to score a great deal. First, ensure that all of the necessary research is done on the home, its title and any liens against it. A home inspection is also critical as there may be structural or other issues which led to the decline in value. Finally, be sure to leave enough time for the closing process as it can take longer than with a traditional home purchase.

As you can see, short sales have their pros and cons. If you are the one selling the home, you have likely been forced into a short sale due to your circumstances. If you are the one buying the home, you may be able to swing a great deal on it. Again, due to the circumstances. Regardless, understanding how short sales work is a good idea. To learn more about local real estate short sales, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to help.