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.

What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let’s Take a Look

What Are the True Costs of Selling a Home? Let's Take a LookAre you thinking about selling your house? Before you decide to list your home up for sale, it is helpful to get a clear picture of how much it’s going to cost. Whether you are sprucing things up with a fresh coat of paint, replacing the roof membrane or just covering your taxes, there will be a few bills to pay. Let’s take a quick look at some of the true costs that you’ll incur when selling your home.

Is Your Home Ready To Sell?

The first question you will need to answer is whether or not your home is ready to sell. Unless your house is relatively new, it will likely need repairs and maintenance. Depending on the age and condition of your home, you may also decide to invest in a full home inspection. Having a professional inspector look things over is a good investment – especially if they find problem areas that require immediate attention.

Invest In A Good Real Estate Agent (And Their Commission)

To get the best price for your home, you will need to be represented by a great real estate agent. Of course, they are not going to work for free. Once the home sells, the agent is compensated with a percentage of the sale price, which is known as a commission. In some cases, the home seller also pays the commission for the buyer’s real estate agent as well.

Factor In Costs During The Sales Process

The selling process will also have its costs. From lawyers’ fees to excise taxes, there is no shortage of small costs that can start to add up. You may decide to invest a bit in your open houses in order to make them more welcoming. Or you might need to close out your mortgage. Whatever the case, be sure to leave some space in your budget for these costs.

Moving Out Will Cost You Too

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the cost of moving to your new home. Many families fail to budget for moving expenses, which can be significant if you are moving out of a large home with a lot of furniture.

As you can see, selling a home is a major financial transaction and one that should be led by an experienced professional. When you are ready to begin the process of selling your home, give us a call. Your trusted real estate professional can advise you of local market conditions and ensure that you receive top dollar when you sell.

Is ‘Curb Appeal’ Really That Important When Selling Your Home? Yes – Here’s Why

Is 'Curb Appeal' Really That Important When Selling Your Home? Yes - Here's WhyDo you remember the first time you shopped for or purchased a home? If so, think back to that moment. What did you first notice? Do you remember certain aspects of the home’s appearance, or perhaps some unique landscape feature? Was it the bright color of the freshly-painted door or the glossy sheen from the clean windows?

The concept of ‘curb appeal’ – that is, how your home appears when viewing from the curb – is an important one, especially when selling your home. 

Give A Strong First Impression

The first impression that your home gives is one that will last. If your paint is fading or chipped, your siding is damaged, your roof is in disrepair or your gutters are hanging loose, what do you expect a potential buyer to think? It’s safe to assume that if you can’t be bothered to pull the weeds in the garden or rake up the leaves that there may be other maintenance issues lurking.

Remember, your goal is to sell your home as quickly as possible and for the best price. If your house looks like it’s in perfect shape from the outside, potential buyers will want to explore further.

Appeal To The Drive-By Buyers

You may not be aware, but many potential home buyers won’t bother connecting with your real estate agent or showing up to your open house events. Instead, they’ll drive by to get a feel for how the house and property look from the outside. Some might peer into your backyard or take a quick look around the lot as well. It’s critical that your home appears in peak condition at all times during the sales process. If your curb appeal declines, you may end up losing out on a potential sale.

Set Your Home Apart From The Neighbors

Contrast is another reason why focusing on your home’s curb appeal is important. Potential home buyers will be comparing your house with others on the same street and across the neighborhood. If your house is the best looking one on the block, it’s more likely to sell for a high price than if it’s the runt of the litter.

When you’re ready to list your home for sale, our professional real estate team will be happy to share some more curb appeal tips. Give us a call at your convenience – we look forward to connecting with you.

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.