Is Buying A Short Sale Right For You?

Is Buying A Short Sale Right For YouIf you have been looking for a new home, and you find one offered under a short sale, this may be to your advantage. While some buyers are wary about buying a home that needs to be sold with the approval of the lender, it’s a great way to get a bargain on a home that you love.

A short sale may be a perfect way to buy a home, as long as you are able to wait until the offer is approved.

The Basics Of A Short Sale

A short sale occurs when the homeowner is facing a foreclosure and trying to avoid it. The true owner of the property, is the lender who provided the money to purchase the home. The borrower owes more on the home than it is worth, and many stop making mortgage payments. Instead of allowing the home to sit there and go to a foreclosure, the lender tries to cut their losses through the process of a short sale.

Additionally, there may be other liens on the home that have to be satisfied by the sale of the property. Anyone that holds a lien on the property has to negotiate the money they are willing to accept for the deal to be finalized.

Why A Short Sale Benefits The Buyer

When you make an offer on a home that is selling under a short sale, you can usually offer less than what the home is worth. The homeowner is eager to sell the home. The homeowner will want to accept an offer fast to get the process started and avoid a foreclosure.

While you may have to wait longer for a short sale to go through than a traditional sale, the savings on the price of the home are usually worth it. Lien holders understand that a short sale is usually the best option to get most of their money, so they are anxious to settle the deal fast.

A short sale is right for you if you aren’t trying to buy a home fast. When you are a savvy buyer, you can make an offer less than the asking price, but you’ll have to wait for all lien holders to accept it. If your current living situation provides you with the opportunity to wait, a short sale will give you more house for your money.

Talk with a real estate agent to learn more about a property if you find one you love that is under a short sale.

4 Quick Tips To Help You Compare Movers

4 Quick Tips To Help You Compare MoversChoosing The Right Movers Can Save You Time And Money

It can be overwhelming to choose a moving company if you are buying or selling your home. There are usually numerous ads for movers offline and online. Determining which company is the best fit can be tricky.

Fortunately, doing a little research can help you find the right mover. If you are looking to compare movers, you have come to the right place. Here are some tips to get started. 

Are They Licensed? 

When you hire a mover, you are entrusting your most valuable possessions to that company. The first thing to determine is whether or not they are licensed. If you are moving to another part of the country, then ensure that the moving company you use is licensed by the federal government.

Every state in the U.S. has its own laws regarding local moves. Check to see what the requirements are in your state. Make sure that the mover and that you choose has the proper licenses. Selecting an unlicensed mover is just asking for trouble.

Do They Have A Solid Reputation? 

Another way to compare movers is to look at each company’s reputation. Comb through online reviews of each mover that you are considering hiring. It is impossible to make everyone happy. Therefore, there will be negative reviews from time-to-time.

If there were problems, how did the moving company handle it? Did the mover reach out to the customer to try to address the problem? Did they ignore the review — or worse yet — disparage the reviewer? Steer clear of companies that ignore, criticize or attack their customers online. 

Do They Belong To Moving Associations? 

Membership in moving associations and other industry recognitions are signs of a trustworthy moving company. Are they a certified ProMover? The American Moving & Storage Association provide this designation. It indicates that the mover is a high-quality professional who follows industry standards. Choosing a ProMover can help you weed out con artists and other shady movers who are only out to take advantage of people. 

How Long Have They Been In Business? 

Try to stick with moving companies that have been in business for a long time. There is a higher chance that they provide excellent service if they have been in business for many years. Some “fly-by-the-night” movers hire unemployable workers who can’t pass background checks. Most movers who have been in business a long time avoid this practice. After All, they must be doing something right to have remained in business for so long. 

Your trusted real estate agent will likely have referrals for movers in your area.  These professionals are well-versed in moving. Ask!

 

Home Automation Conveniences Attract Buyers

The rise in Millennial homebuyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home salesThe rise in Millennial home buyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home sales.

Consider trends over the past decades that have included conveniences such as built-in dishwashers, central air, energy efficient appliances and many others. As mechanical and technological advances move into the mainstream, prospective home buyers seek them out and favor properties that come tech ready.

While Millennial buyers have a vastly different world view than previous generations, Baby Boomers and Gen X homeowners are also enjoying the ease of technology. For many homeowners, automation equals convenience and improved quality of life. That’s why having the latest automation integrated into a home can make it a priority home on the market. These are some of the latest — let’s call them gadgets — that seem to be piquing the interest of today’s home buyers.  

Automation Home Control Devices

The era of clap-on lights and voice-controlled systems has given way to smart technologies. Homes that are integrated with smart technologies are getting a leg up in the market and future-leaning companies are rolling out devices to fill the need.

A company called Nanoleaf is marketing a 12-sided remote that can be programed to automate and control an entire smart home. The Nanoleaf Remote is expected to interface with Apple Homekits to produce amazing home scenes and manage devices throughout the household.

If you saw the movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise, you may remember him interacting with a 3D holographic interface. The new “Talon” smart ring hitting the market is a wearable smart remote that looks similar to the popular Fit Bits. It also interfaces with your home in a futuristic way and can automate most everything. The point is that smart homes are popular and complimentary devices will only make them more so.

Alexa Is The New BFF

Alexa became America’s best friend by providing everything from favorite music to voice-command Google searches. Alexa looks to be everyone’s BFF going forward and more and more home automation technologies are developed to directly connect with the little Echo Dot. iDevices’s new light switches can be brightened or dimmed via Alexa. Consider Alexa-driven automation.

Automated Home Security

In an era when security is frequently on people’s minds, things like motion detectors, security cameras and smart locks are looked upon more favorably when they are integrated into the home and fully automated. Homeowners are not looking to take on home security as an after-work task.

The Ring company, among others, is introducing everything from smart doorbells to outdoor lighting. When fully automated, security can be a huge boon for home sellers.

The Real Estate market remains competitive and seemingly small differences between properties can set them apart. Automation and smart-technology integration can be a game-changer in terms of days on the market and asking price.  

Contact your trusted real estate professional to find out more about these trends whether you are in the market to sell or find your new automated dream home.

How To Manage Investment Property While Working Full-Time

How To Manage Investment Property While Working Full-TimeIn 2017, upwards of 75 percent of independent rental property owners in the U.S. reportedly worked another job on top of being a landlord. That means the overwhelming majority of landlords are attempting to juggle more than they can handle at times. However, there are organizational and strategic concepts that can maximize efficiency and profitability.

Consider the following tips that bring property management tasks under three basic headings: organization, automation and outsourcing.  

Organization Matters

One of the things that tends to overwhelm landlords is thinking about the rental properties as an extension of home ownership. The rental seems like it involves many of the same tasks such as maintenance and repair.

By rethinking rentals in terms of a small business, the way these and other tasks are approached can become radically different. If this were a Mom and Pop store or a corporation, the necessary resources would be brought in to handle niche labor. Organize all of the tasks that the rental unit(s) require under categories that may include the following.

  • Rental Advertising
  • Applicant Interviews
  • Background Checks
  • Legal Documents (leases)
  • Maintenance and Repairs
  • Rent Collection and Bill Paying

Accounting

With a defined set of tasks organized under specific headings, it becomes much easier to visualize the breadth of work involved and what supporting resources would be needed.

Automation Matters

Industries across the globe are moving to automation as a way to increase productivity and lower costs. There’s no reason landlords working other jobs cannot do the same.

While fixing a burst pipe may not be a good candidate for automation, there are numerous tasks property owners undertake that no longer require valuable time.

  • Advertising: Consider a process where an online advertisement is pre-written and posted when a lease expires.
  • Rental Payments: Consider automatic withdrawal from tenant accounts or having them direct deposit.
  • Bill Payment: Consider auto pay for every possible facet of the property, including utilities, taxes, insurance, mortgage and others.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Consider an online form for tenants to fill out that provides real-time notification.

These and other tools can streamline the amount of time required to manage a rental property without incurring significant expense.

Outsourcing Matters

People who work regular jobs and also manage rental properties are entrepreneurs by nature. That go-getter personality leads many to take on more tasks than there is time in the day. That’s why outsourcing is so important.

Outsourcing things like accounting or legal services are no-brainers because they require specialized knowledge. But other tasks such as applications, background checks and maintenance may be good things to put on someone else’s plate as well.

As noted in the beginning of this article, if a small business mindset were applied, many of these tasks would be assigned to a designated resource. Consider operating rental units in this fashion by running a cost analysis and outsourcing. Roll in the labor costs that make sense and take some time to binge watch a Netflix series while your investment turns a profit.

If you’re ready to invest in a rental property, contact your trusted real estate professional who can point you to the hottest markets in your area. 

Fix and Flip: Forget What You See on Television

Fix and Flip: Forget What You See on TelevisionThe drama of home and garden TV shows may be fun to watch, but no matter what you think, reality shows are not at all like real life. If you think it’s easy to buy a house that needs updating and turn it quickly for substantial profit, you might want to think again. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that you should shy away from the idea of buying a “fixer-upper” — just that you should approach such a home purchase with eyes wide open. 

Here are some valuable tips:

  • Buying a house that needs cosmetic updates can make financial sense, particularly if you’re handy with a paintbrush, or don’t mind tackling DIY projects in your spare time. The willingness to make a house your home through ongoing TLC can be rewarding in terms of both dollars and good sense, if the structure is sound and all systems are in working condition.
  • Modern appliances, updated lighting and water-saving plumbing fixtures and faucets — even new carpeting and tile — are all items that can be replaced over time as your budget allows. But if the existing home systems aren’t in working order, you may be in for big surprises that can be hard to handle. 
  • Buy a house that needs a new roof, major structural work, new HVAC or major kitchen renovation only if you can roll the work into a home improvement loan and, preferably, complete the rehab before you move in. If a house isn’t habitable, it’s really not a bargain! 
  • Always pay for a home inspection prior to making an offer. While an independent inspection is not a guarantee that all systems are “go,” it should allow you to plan the next move. The best strategy might be to walk away and look for another well-priced property.
  • Remember that homes are priced under market for a reason. Sometimes the reason has nothing to do with physical problems and everything to do with the seller. Older homes in stable neighborhoods often represent great deals for sellers and buyers alike!

The best way to find a great deal, though, is to work with a professional REALTOR who is familiar not only with the local market, but who can advise you about real estate trends, financing options and the best ways to realize an appropriate return on your investment.

If you have dreams of becoming the next HGTV phenomenon, take the words of Chip and Joanna to heart: Their book confirms that they worked long hours, faced plenty of discouragement and experienced a fair amount of luck. In fact, as they note, their “overnight success” took many years!

After all, owning your own home, even if it does require some fixing, is still the American Dream!

 

 

 

Buying A Foreclosure: 5 Things To Know

Buying A Foreclosure 5 Things To KnowBuying a property out of foreclosure can be a very smart move, financially. But it can also be complicated, expensive, and stressful.

Here are 5 things to keep in mind before you take a first step in that direction:

Cash Or Preapproval Required

Buying a house that has been returned to the lender through foreclosure means dealing with bureaucracy rather than with a motivated seller. Large lenders are notorious for taking their time to approve a contract, even if the offer is for the exact amount specified.

Then there’s the paperwork, which can seem endless. Most lenders require that prospective buyers have cash on hand, or a pre-authorized loan in place in order to even submit an offer. 

There’s Little Room For Negotiation

Although in certain circumstances there may be an opportunity for some discussion about the price, that is not the norm in a foreclosure. The minimum price is usually written in stone, even during an on-site property auction, and the only direction is up! The days of buying foreclosures for a song are long past, if indeed they ever really existed. 

As-Is Condition Means Just That

Some buyers specialize in foreclosures while other investors run the other direction. There are pros and cons, of course, to every transaction. Sage advice is to always pay the fee for a property inspection on a foreclosed property, even if you have experience. A third-party evaluation is especially valuable if the home has been vacant for an extended period of time, if the utilities have been turned off, or if there are extensive visible defects.

Foreclosures can be like icebergs: What you see may be nothing compared to what lies below the surface. Also, with the findings in writing, always confirm that your loan commitment and insurance quotes will be honored in spite of the existing condition.

The Need For An Experienced REALTOR

Navigating the landscape of property foreclosures is a specialty field, and caution is the name of the game. As a prospective buyer of a pre-foreclosure, a short-sale or a foreclosed home, an experienced REALTOR is your best resource. A real estate professional will help you deal with all timelines and requirements, and has the knowledge and expertise to recommend lenders, inspectors, insurance agents and contractors to help you make a decision.

Always Consider Future Value

Although the initial price might be right, there are additional variables at play in every real estate transaction. What can you expect in terms of appreciation over the short term? What is the long-term outlook for the neighborhood? Will needed repairs and improvements add to the home’s value, or simply bring its condition up to standard? Do you plan to live in the home, or is it strictly for resale?

Your trusted real estate professional is the best resource to help you thoroughly evaluate all the information about every foreclosure.

Backyard Farming: Fad Or The New Future

Backyard Farming: Fad Or The New FutureWhile a kitchen herb garden or pot-grown tomatoes may be commonplace in both suburban backyards and on urban condo patios, an increasingly large number of homeowners look to backyard farming as a way to relieve some of the stresses of modern life. Other benefits include cutting grocery bills, living a more sustainable life, and teaching children about food.

The New Food Landscape 

Do new trends signal a return to simpler times, or are they a pushback against higher food prices and loss of control over the food supply? Is it a lasting change that will spread across the country or a trendy, elitist phenomenon?

The answers may not be simple, but a huge increase in the popularity of farmers’ markets and community gardens leads some analysts to predict that a major change in attitude as well as lifestyle is taking place in American neighborhoods. There is evidence that family health and nutrition improve when access to gardens and fresh food is made easier. It is as true in affluent neighborhoods as it is in disadvantaged communities.

In cities as diverse as Seattle, Boston and Fort Worth, Texas, community groups and activist neighborhoods have developed community gardens. Some of the more innovative offer food free for the taking to anyone in need. Seattle boasts more than one edible park, meant to help eliminate the city’s food deserts. Numerous community gardens throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex encourage pick-your-own plots that are open to all.

Growing Food for Personal Consumption

For homeowners who want to grow their own fresh produce and salad greens, the way forward is not always as easy. Zoning stipulations and HOA regulations sometimes specify that food plants are unauthorized landscaping elements. The times, however, have begun to change in many communities. 

New subdivisions in some cities offer community gardens for homeowners that are every bit as popular as community pools and clubhouses. They exist in million-dollar neighborhoods as well as more modest surroundings. Other cities allow some types of food gardens while discouraging plants like corn. Still others allow edible plants only behind a backyard fence.

The Future Of A Backyard Farm

The movement goes beyond growing edible plants, however. Keeping chickens and even goats is allowed by some municipalities, and urban farmers experience success with soil-free growing methods, including aquaponics, hydroponics and aeroponics.

While these alternative methods are usually found under roof, some aquaponics systems — which incorporate growing fish and plants together in a closed loop system — thrive in simple outdoor hoop-house structures. The growth of food-based “cottage businesses” is also worth watching. 

In short, as huge farms disappear from the scene, smaller home-based farms may take their place, not only in the Midwest, but in cities large and small from coast to coast. If you are in the market for a new home with a garden-friendly yard or want to create greater sustainability in or near your home, contact your trusted real estate agent today to see what the housing market has to offer.

 

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What’s the Difference?

Smart Technology or Home Automation: What's the Difference?Is it worth it to add smart appliances or automated features if you’re selling a home? Just how much connectivity do buyers want? And what exactly do the terms refer to in terms of home updates.

Although smart homes and home automation are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to two basically different concepts about how appliances and home systems can operate. Then there is the need for “connectivity,” adding another dimension to any discussion of futuristic home features.

Home Automation

According to a Texas-based Direct Energy blog, home automation has a long history, beginning with the first labor-saving devices that operated with electrical current. “Automatic” washing machines and hot water heaters certainly made life easier at the time, a time long before wireless technology and integrated home entertainment systems.That may be simplistic, but the truth is that any device that operates without human intervention can be termed automatic. 

Today, however, automation commonly refers to home features that are controlled by computer, or that can be set to operate in specific ways: motion-detected lighting, robotic floor cleaners, dishwashers and ovens with delay settings, and the wide range of room monitors, security cameras and voice or motion-controlled devices.

Smart Technology

Computers introduced American homes to smart technology and the Internet of Things. Today, almost every home has several “smart” devices, even if they are simple ones.  

Case in point: A programmable thermostat, common sensor-operated smoke detectors, and a backyard irrigation system with a timer control can be termed smart devices, albeit maybe only “elementary” smart.

Today, most smart technology is also controllable by wireless remote device. But the true definition of smart is any product that incorporates sensors or data storage, microprocessors or controls that allow autonomous operation. An internal operating system is employed to assure that the product operates as programmed, either through user interface or initial setup. Modern smart technology allows for broad integration of devices, in effect creating a “genius” network.

Connectivity

The third piece of the technology puzzle is connectivity. Both home automation and smart technology can be “connected,” for greater flexibility and integration, but it’s not necessary. And, just because homeowners can change a setting via smart phone or battery-operated remote doesn’t necessarily make an automatic appliance or home product smart. 

Connected products interact with one another over a network; the network collects and shares data, and is designed to monitor and allow some degree of control over the functioning of network-connected products or systems. 

For instance, a smart home with sophisticated lighting controls might automatically sense lower light levels at dusk, triggering an adjustment to window shades and turning on both interior and exterior lighting.

Confused? Actually, there’s no real need to be. No matter what you call them, the home features that make living better are all desirable!

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational Sense

Home Updates That Make Good Multi-Generational SenseMulti-generational households and the growing preference on the part of many retirees toward “aging in place”have altered home design in recent years. Interiors are more open, more functional and more adaptable that they were even a decade ago. Spaces tend to be less formal; living space is better integrated with work space like the kitchen, and rooms tend to serve more than once purpose, both for quiet pursuits and for family gatherings.

Universal Design

Home design has gained a new dimension — planning for the future and for a changing lifestyle. Universal design features and amenities that were once off the radar are now very much the focus. Even younger buyers are tuned in to accessibility concerns. Wider doors and hallways, easy to navigate stairs or single-level living, doorless and curbless showers, motion-activated faucets and lighting — these are just a sampling of what may soon become mainstream in American homes.

Add the popularity of home automation and connectivity, and today’s home is uniquely suited for all ages. If you’re thinking of remodeling an existing home, some of these features are well worth the extra cost. Not only do they offer living options, but they also promise great ROI should you wish to sell.

The New Face Of Home

If you are currently looking for a home to buy, view the existing floor plan with an eye toward modifications that would make it more accessible and multi-generation-friendly. Consider the possibility that you might someday share the home with aging parents or with grown children and grandchildren. 

Integrated “apartments”with separate entrances, “granny pods”or separate guest houses, dual master bedrooms, and “au pair”quarters are just some of the ways to offer future flexibility. They are common across the country, but also across price ranges, as sensible and cost-effective alternatives to home health care or retirement housing. 

Renovate For The Future

Renovations that reflect the changing face of family life are always good choices for return on investment in remodeling. Because the traditional family is no longer the norm, any home that offers such options is desirable. If you have questions about what features are important to buyers in a specific market, speak to a real estate professional about trends that go beyond energy savings and sustainability. 

No matter what choices you make about a home update, rely on professional advice and insist on reliable contractors. There is no substitute for quality materials and first-class work. Whether you’re adding space or rearranging it, planning for your future in the home or hoping to appeal to the right buyer, spending a lot or a little, you won’t go wrong with universal design features. Aging is, after all, a reality that we all face sooner or later.

 

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller’s Market

5 Critical Tips For Buying In A Seller's MarketThis summer, quality homes are being scooped up almost as fast as they’re being listed – and for top price. Yes, it’s a seller’s market out there, which is great news if you’re planning to list your home. For those looking for a home, the competitiveness can be frustrating and aggravating.

Frustrating as it may be, there’s plenty of reason for buyers to stick it out until their offer is accepted. For starters, interest rates are still fairly low. And secondly, there are great homes out there if you act fast enough.

How can you successfully get that dream home in a seller’s market? Here are some top tips:

Stay Dedicated

Make sure that you and your Realtor are on the same page with your must-haves for your new home. Then, make sure you check for new listings daily. If any look good, make an appointment to see it that day. Don’t wait, or it will likely be gone. It can be tempting to make an offer based on listing photos alone, but be very wary of doing this. Go out and see it – and do it quickly.

Start With Your Best Offer

With some good properties gone in a matter of hours, this is no time to nickle and dime a seller. What’s more is that the seller will be unlikely to even entertain the offer and counter it. The best practice in competitive times is to start with your very best offer on the property and give the seller something to seriously consider. Chances are your offer isn’t the only one they’ll be receiving. You want it to make an impression.

Include A Personal Note

Even though they’re essentially getting rid of their property, sellers often like to work with a buyer who is going to appreciate and care for the home they’re purchasing. That’s where a personal note included with your offer to the seller can come in handy. In your note, talk about the things you love about the home and how you know it will be the perfect fit for you and your family. You can even up the ante and include a family photo. 

Make A Significant Earnest Money Deposit

Generally speaking, the larger your earnest money deposit, the more serious of a buyer you are. In a seller’s market, you will want to look for any competitive advantage over the others that are likely to make an offer on a particular property. A big deposit can serve as that advantage.

Stay Patient

Like we said in the opening, a seller’s market can be frustrating for buyers – so try to stay patient. The right home is out there for you, and good things come to those who wait. 

Your trusted real estate agent is ready to talk to you about the impact of a seller’s market and show you the best houses available in your area. Create your must-have list and call today!