3 Critical Tips for Buying a Home in a Short Sale

3 Critical Tips for Buying a Home in a Short SaleYou just found your perfect home, and you feel like everything is right including the price. But, what could be wrong with your ideal home? Maybe, it is being sold as a short sale, and that could present a major challenge if you want to become be the eventual homeowner.

Short sales are different from other conventional real estate transactions since the property in question is usually listed at a price that is much lower than the amount of the outstanding mortgage debt.

Unlike a regular sale, the homeowner must obtain permission from the lender before proceeding with the transaction. Whether you are a veteran property buyer or a first-time home buyer, closing a deal on a short sale can be a challenging and stressful experience. We compiled the top three tips for buying a home in a short sale.

Consult a Short Sale Expert

First, you should consider getting help from a short sale expert who will help you identify homes that are being offered as short sales, help you determine a reasonable purchase price and also advise you on what to include in your offer to make it attractive to the seller.

Before you go for a particular short sale expert, ask them how many buyers they have helped purchase homes on short sales and how long they have been in business.

Good Deals Take Patience

Secondly, remember to be patient when engaging in a short sale deal. There is a high likelihood that most buyers will get impatient after several weeks of waiting and walk away from the deal leaving you in a strong position to negotiate.

If you understand that the initial offer on any short sale can take a long time before the lender accepts or rejects it, you will be in a better position to get a good deal since there will be no stiff competition. However, you should keep in mind that the lender might reject your offer.

Get a Full Loan Approval Early

Lastly, make sure that you get approved for a loan and not just pre-approved. Go through the trouble of getting approved if you want to stand a good chance of landing your dream home through a short sale.

Keep in mind that there will be multiple bids on the property and most of the prospective buyers will be pre-approved. Since you want to get the home at the best possible price below the market prices, being fully approved will make your offer stand out with the lender since you no longer face the risk of your financing falling apart at the last minute.

Entering into a short sale transaction will require patience and diligence. One of your best partners will be your trusted real estate professional. 

Tips For Selling Your Home In The Winter

Tips For Selling Your Home In The WinterWinter typically isn’t one of the busier home buying seasons – those seasons are reserved for spring and summer. But to think that you can’t sell your home at market value during the winter months is being naive. In fact, you can even use some of the characteristics that define the season to your advantage. For instance, because winter isn’t a hot selling season, there’s typically less inventory during this time of year. That said, if your home stands out in the listings, you have a better chance of getting on that coveted “short list” of buyers.

Here’s a look at some tips on how to do it:

Make Your Home Look Inviting

This is essential for selling your home at any period of the year, but it’s perhaps most important during the winter months. That’s because colder temperatures and shorter days have the tendency to make a property look a little dreary from the outside.

There are a few ways to enhance your home’s curb appeal during the winter months:

  • Exterior lights: Shorter days mean less daylight, so make sure your home is well-lit so that buyers can see all of its features in periods of low light.
  • Easy to navigate: Always ensure that your driveway and any walking paths are clear. This makes it easier for potential buyers to safely access the home and more closely observe the condition of the driveway, sidewalks, etc.
  • Decorate it appropriately: Don’t overdo it, but some seasonal decorations can add a nice touch.

Turn Up The Heat

Ideally, you want would-be buyers to walk in from the cold into a warm, cozy environment. So crank up the thermostat, make a fire in your home’s fireplaces (if applicable) and brighten any dark areas of the home. This helps create a comfortable interior environment as well as show off some of your home’s amenities.

Think Spring And Summer

As you know, your home is bound to look different during the summer months than it will during the winter. Hence, we’d encourage you to make sure that this is noted in your listings. Include exterior photos of your home during the warm weather months so would-be buyers can see the green grass, flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees.

Sometimes, envisioning how a home that is being shown in the winter will look at other times of the year can be difficult. Don’t waste the opportunity to include a few photos of your home at other times of the year.

Don’t be nervous about selling your home in the winter – just know how to showcase it to capture buyer interest. The buyers are out there in the winter, it’s just a matter of making your home stand out. Your trusted real estate agent is just the person to help you make sure your home is buyer-ready any time of the year!

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top Dollar

5 Tips To Price Your Home To Sell For Top DollarMany home sellers are confused about how to price their home to sell. It’s definitely challenging to try and find that sweet spot between pricing it low enough so it flies off the market without undercutting the home’s value. Emotions play into the decision, too. If the seller has a lot of sweat equity in the home, or the property is the only place the children have ever called home, owners may tend to place a higher value on the house.

Here’s how to correctly price a home to sell in any market.

Rely On Your Real Estate Agent

Your Realtor is an expert in all matters related to home buying and selling. They have a vested interest in selling your home within a reasonable time frame. As such, they provide a valuable, objective perspective that you should closely pay attention to in order to correctly price your home to sell.

Look At Comps In Your Neighborhood

One thing that your real estate agent does is analyze the comparable properties in your neighborhood. Remember, what a home sells for in a nearby city doesn’t impact how to price your home in a neighborhood far removed. Your prospective buyers will also compare your home’s price to others they could buy in the same neighborhood.

Consider Special Features

Don’t discount special features that your home has, such as built-in shelving units, out buildings, a home movie theater, etc. These give you an advantage in that you can safely set your price a little higher than comparable homes without those features. Be sure your real estate agent mentions them on your MLS listing so buyers understand the higher asking price.

Be Prepared To Make Price Adjustments

Remember that you might have to come down from your asking price, so keep that in mind when you and your real estate agent set that number. Don’t expect that you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for unless you’re in a high demand area. When you give yourself some margin, you gain negotiating power you can use to make a sale happen.

Consider Your Own Finances

Pricing your home to sell is only one factor to consider. The larger equation takes your entire financial picture into account. Figure out how much you owe, how much commission you’ll pay and any sales concessions, if any, you’d be willing to offer a prospective buyer. This due diligence ensures you’ll be satisfied with the outcome after all the money has changed hands.

Pricing your home to sell correctly is a critical part of making the transaction happen. Remember that your real estate agent is the best judge of the best price point, but you can always point out the reasons why you’d like it higher or lower.

 

 

 

 

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First Home

5 Real Estate Professionals Who Assist You When You Buy Your First HomeSo you’re set to buy your first house. But where do you begin?

Buying a house for the first time can be nerve-racking. Most advice articles often concentrate on the steps involved in buying a house. To streamline things, let’s focus on the people who will likely be involved in your purchase transaction.

Concentrating on the finding the right professionals can help you navigate the entire buying process easier and more comfortably. Most people start with their home loan financing or locating a property with a real estate agent. Many of the other people involved in the transaction will be referred by these two important folks.

Apart from you and the seller, a number of other people will probably get involved. Some of them get involved throughout the whole process, others pop in and out, while others are optional. Below is an overview of five people involved.

Mortgage Loan Officer

First-time home buyers rarely pay all cash for their property. Most of them borrow money to purchase the property. As such, your mortgage loan officer becomes part of the process from the start to the end. From the moment you inquire if you can afford to the time of transferring ownership, your loan officer will be there.

Real Estate Agent

Most first-time buyers employ a real estate agent to assist them purchase their houses. Agents can help you find the house, draft your offer and advise you on ways to negotiate with the seller. They will likely help you circumnavigate through inspection and closing steps.

Settlement Agent

A settlement agent or a closing agent becomes involved from the moment you reach an agreement with the seller until the transfer of ownership is complete. In most cases, a settlement agent is most involved in the last days before you assume ownership.

Home Inspector

Home inspectors get involved for a short period of time. Most of them pop in, carry out an inspection, write a report and they’re gone. You may never hear from your inspector again. Your real estate agent or mortgage loan officer will most likely be able to recommend a trustworthy home inspector.

Appraiser

Mortgage lenders usually ask appraisers to estimate the market value of the house you’re purchasing. An appraiser makes sure that your lender isn’t advancing you more money than the actual market value of the house. Though the appraiser reports to your lender, you usually pay for the appraisal in your home loan closing costs.

Please keep in mind that legal requirements for transferring house ownership vary from one state to another. For instance, some states require a real estate attorney in the transfer of ownership. Check with your preferred real estate professional to get the details in your local market.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

5 Trends Shaping Green Homes

5 Trends Shaping Green HomesThink green home design is a fad? Well, think again. Sustainable home designs are gaining popularity at a breakneck speed. In 2017, green homes accounted for more than 60 percent of family home builder’s portfolios, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. 

But what is really driving green home designs? In this post, we explore five trends shaping sustainable homes. 

1.    Energy Efficiency 

Home designs that cater to consumers’ need to reduce utility bills continue taking center stage. From net-zero energy homes to energy conserving products, home buyers want to save money. Moving forward, industry experts predict that ultra-efficient building designs like net-zero-energy or passive home designs will continue dominating the industry. 

2.    Health 

Most home buyers are more aware of the dangers of chemicals than before. As such, most of them are seeking non-toxic interior products. 
The manufacturing industry trend is leaning towards healthier materials. As the demand rises and prices stabilize, these products are more likely to be game changers. Most home designs will probably focus on eliminating troublesome chemicals such as VOC paints and phthalate free flooring. 

3.    Home Performance And Monitoring 

Home energy audits are major factors considered by consumers, and home performance is key. Some cities like Austin expect new homes to undergo performance tests before recommendation for resale. 

Energy software programs allow home builders and remodelers to monitor how slight changes in home designs can save thousands of dollars in utility bills. Homeowners are also benefiting from energy monitoring devices to track their household energy consumption. 

4.    Water Efficiency 

80 percent of American states anticipate water shortages in a few years, says a Government Accountability Office survey. Therefore, wise water usage is becoming crucial as consumers demand for water efficient homes. Most builders are already getting their homes HERS Rated as consumers look for ways to save dollars from rising water prices. 

5.    Biophilic Home Designs 

Nature is beneficial to us biologically, physically and psychologically. However, in the last century, home designs separated us from nature. Today, biophilic designs (connected to nature) strive to reverse that by integrating nature into homes. Modern building can capture the sun’s movement using windows, architectural details and patterns, connecting us to the season, time of day and our inner biorhythms. 

If any of these green trends are on your list of must-haves for your new home, be sure to tell your trusted real estate professional.

 

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Slows to 20-Month Low

Case-Shiller Home Price Growth Slows to 20-Month LowHome price growth slowed to its lowest rate in 20 months according to the 20-City Home Price Index issued by Case-Shiller. After years of dismal readings, Las Vegas, Nevada led the cities included in the index.

Top three cities for August included Las Vegas, Nevada where year-over-year home prices grew by 13.90 percent. San Francisco, California saw home prices increase by 10.60 percent year-over-year and Seattle, Washington home prices rose by 9.60 percent year-over-year. August’s 20-City Home Price Index overall reading fell below six percent for the first time in a year.

Cooling Home Price Growth Helps Balance Housing Markets

Cooling home prices have been forecast for months, but August’s reading indicated that home prices have peaked and that current home price growth rates may ease pressure on overheated real estate markets, where high home prices, limited inventories of homes for sale and rising mortgage rates have limited buying opportunities. Home price growth remained above current rates of wage growth and inflation, but slower appreciation of home values will help balance the housing market from an extreme sellers’ market to more moderate market conditions.

Rising Mortgage Rates Not Sole Cause of Easing Home Prices

Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan recently said that rising mortgage rates were not the only cause of slowing growth of home prices. Mr. Kaplan said that multiple factors including rising building costs, labor shortages and rising mortgage rates combined to ease record demand for home; Mr. Kaplan said that the Fed is closely monitoring the economy and housing markets and mentioned that he had previously forecast slower housing markets as 2019 approaches.

Recent stock market sell-offs boosted the 10-year Treasury note price, but this momentum appears to be settling. Fixed mortgage rates are connected to yields on 10-year Treasury notes. Yields rise as note prices decline. Mortgage rates rise as the 10-year Treasury yield rises. While nothing is set in stone, this situation indicates that mortgage rates could continue to rise.

Rising mortgage rates and strict mortgage lending requirements have barred home buyers concerned with affordability and less than perfect credit profiles. As prospective home buyers abandon their home searches, demand for homes should ease and may further reduce gains in home prices.

If you are interested in buying a new property or selling your current property, contact your trusted real estate agent to discuss market specifics in your area.

4 Reasons To Buy Or Sell A Home This Winter

4 Reasons To Buy Or Sell A Home This WinterThe winter real estate market tends to be significantly different from other seasons. Buyers and sellers alike are often driven by different reasons than at other times of the year. That can be a win-win for both motivated buyers and sellers in the right climate.

Many homeowners list their property during spring and early summer hoping to maximize their return on investment during the competitive seasons. Families with school-aged children tend to be highly motivated buyers because they prefer not to take a child out of school mid-term.

Given the nationwide housing shortage, those seasons were hot seller’s market with Millennials scooping up listings quickly at or near asking price. But since the dog days of summer, the housing industry has changed substantially.

These are four meat-and-potatoes reasons to buy or sell property this winter.

  • Inventory Shortage: During the first six months of 2018, the national housing shortage stood at a 20-year worst. That was great news for sellers who enjoyed higher prices and fewer days on the market. It wasn’t great for buyers who were in heated competition for homes. A shortage is expected during the winter months. That could be good news for sellers. But there is likely to be less competition, and that may allow buyers a little wiggle room in negotiations.
  • Interest Rates: The Fed announced that interest rates would inch up in four increments by the end of 2018. While that may seem like bad news, it could be helpful for motivated buyers and sellers this winter. The rate increases will likely result in listing prices leveling off, and that could help buyers from being priced out of the market. The Fed also announced that rates would likely increase further by the end of 2019, which should motivate people to buy sooner rather than later. Simply put, the winter market forecast looks hot.
  • Tax Cuts: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act helped many Americans keep more of their own money and ratchet up the economy. A recent announcement from the White House says a middle-class tax cut of 10 percent is expected to be pushed through Congress. Rates may eek up but keeping another 10 percent of your money can provide a great deal of mortgage bandwidth.
  • Employment Opportunities: As mentioned above, spring and summer markets are often driven by family considerations. The winter market tends to be driven by others. One of the key reasons buyers and sellers relocate during the winter is driven by jobs. It is common for large and mid-sized companies to hire for the first of the year. Given the tremendous opportunities in this robust economy, higher salaries and dream jobs may present themselves. This winter could be a carpe diem homes market.

Although winter housing markets may have been sluggish in some years, it’s been a long time since everyday Americans were immersed in a thriving economy. With unemployment at a near 50-year low and wages rising, this winter could be a winner for buyers and sellers.

Whether you are buying or selling, your trusted real estate agent is available to help you navigate the market any time of the year in your area.

4 Housing Market Trends To Expect In 2019

4 Housing Market Trends To Expect In 2019Just like Fantasy Football players try to predict who will score the most touchdowns, pass for the most yardage and win the Super Bowl, people with an eye on the real estate market also engage in speculation. Like sports fans, expectations are often driven by statistics from the previous season.

That being said, these are some of the important housing market trends buyers and sellers can expect in 2019.

1: New Construction To The Rescue (Sort Of)

The 2018 housing shortage has been well documented. The inventory shortfall has driven up listing prices and created a powerful seller’s market. The law of supply and demand would indicate that the construction sector will ramp up new home building in 2019.

Materials and labor costs are relatively modest when compared to new homes selling for approximately $150 per square foot on average. Home prices are expected to rise throughout 2019 creating more opportunity for construction outfits to build custom and spec houses. It is unlikely that new construction will keep pace with the high demand for homes. But buyers can expect more availability and custom-design options by working directly with builders.

2: Millennials Will Drive The Housing Market (Again)

In 2018, the full presence of Millennials was felt in the housing industry. There are now an estimated 75 million adults who fall into the demographic and they were reportedly responsible for upwards of 34 percent of all recent single-family home sales. Millennial home buyers were significantly responsible for higher than usual competition for starter homes in 2018.

At the older end of the spectrum, many are now in their mid-30s and fully engaged in careers. At the younger end, many are graduating from college and looking for starter homes as they enter the workforce. With more looking to buy first homes and others trading up, sellers would be wise to remain keenly aware of what Millennials want. Having grown up immersed in technology, Smart homes, and other integrated technologies tend to be attractive to this class of buyer.

3: Waiting May Result In Higher (But Still Low) Rates

The Federal Reserve continues to roll out interest rate increases against the fast-growing economy and employment stability. This did not come about unexpectedly and should not frighten off home buyers.

The Fed dropped rates to historic lows in 2008 after the Great Recession hit in an effort to stimulate growth. These days, business is thriving and there are reportedly 7 million unfilled jobs. All this good news means that the Fed will likely continue its planned increase throughout 2019. However, rates are likely to remain relatively low and buyer friendly.

4: Economy Expected To Remain Robust

To say we live in unusual times would be something of an understatement. The country has been embroiled in a series of tariff wars and trade negotiations many thought would cripple the GDP. The exact opposite seems to have occurred.

With the NAFTA deal now being redone as the USMCA, trade with Canada and Mexico are expected to be more beneficial for American businesses and wages. The administration is currently reworking a trade deal with the EU and a zero-tariff goal is on the table. The U.K. is in the midst of Brexit and a more beneficial trade agreement is expected there as well.

In terms of the dust-up with China, manufacturers appear to have simply shifted their output to other plants to avoid paying hefty tariffs. The price of goods appears to be staying low and the U.S. Business Confidence Index remains over 100 percent. These trends seem to overwhelmingly favor the American economy and housing market in 2019 and beyond.

Whether you are buying or selling, your trusted real estate professional is aware of the trends in your area and ready to help you find success with your real estate transactions.

Ways to Stay Safe During the Holidays

Ways to Stay Safe During the HolidaysThe arrival of fall, with cooler temperatures followed by a season of holiday celebrations, means getting cozy at home, spending more time cooking and enjoying friends and family in front of a blazing fire, and lighting up your home for a series of holidays. Sadly, though, it is also a time that carries a higher risk of property losses due to fire and accidental injuries.

Here are some guidelines about how to reduce those risks and stay safe this winter:

Keep The Kitchen Safe

Serious burns and kitchen fires can dampen any holiday celebration. Statistics show that Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays can be especially prone to accidental kitchen fires and injury. If you have guests helping out, or children in the kitchen, be especially watchful. Don’t overload circuits and never let electrical cords dangle over counters. Supervise young helpers, and know what to do in case of a stovetop grease fire or a sparking appliance.

Check The Fireplace

There’s nothing as cozy as a roaring fire on a chilly winter evening. But follow the rules for fireplace safety: Have a proper screen, don’t throw paper into the fire, and check the damper and chimney spark arrestor. Whether you have a traditional fireplace or a gas-fueled metal firebox, perform a pre-season check to assure that everything is operating properly before lighting that first fire.

Candle Safety

Candles are a huge risk during the holiday season, from Halloween on through New Years. As pretty as they are, wax candles should never be left to burn unattended, indoors or out. If you want to line your sidewalk with jack-o-lanterns or create a glowing pathway for winter guests, consider battery-operated candles for safety. Indoors, keep candles away from draperies, drafts and flammable decorations, and don’t ever place candles on a Christmas tree or among pine boughs on a mantel or dining room table. It’s simply too dangerous.

Trees And Home Decorations

If lighting up the home for the holidays is a tradition for your family, check the UL label for both indoor and outdoor lighting and never overload a circuit. Use care when stringing lights, and turn them off when you’re not at home. Check ornament labels — look for flame retardant and non-flammable certification. Always turn lights off at night or when you’re not at home.

General Safety Precautions

Autumn is also the prime time to test your home’s smoke alarms. It’s smart to stage a family fire drill. Go over your escape plan in case of fire, and be sure to inform guests about what to do in case of emergency. In addition, if you don’t already have a carbon monoxide detector, why not consider installing one this fall?

Staying safe is a family responsibility, one that you should take seriously!

Whether you are looking for a new home or want to list your current property this winter, your trusted real estate agent has home safety and home improvement ideas that will help to make your next home transaction a wonderous success!

 

Winterizing Your Yard: 3 Landscape Tips

Winterizing Your Yard: 3 Landscape TipsIn some parts of the country, it has already started snowing! But, even if you live in an area with a moderate climate, your lawn and garden are about to take a “winter break.” 

Here are 3 tips to assure that your yard will not only survive the winter, but flourish during the dormant season. They’ll assure that your landscape will greet spring full of life and beauty.

Fertilize The Lawn As Recommended

Most types of grass and landscape plants have a kind of built in “alarm clock” that helps them prepare for the changing seasons and the onset of winter. Many lawns, though, benefit greatly from a a fall “feeding” in order to supply proper nutrients to help roots survive during the cold and be ready to start growing again above ground in the spring.

Applying the proper fertilizer this fall is a simple and cost-effective way to get a jump on next year’s beautiful lawn. When and whether you fertilize will depend on your specific type of grass and your location.

Baby Your Plants

Autumn is the time you’ll want to pamper your plants — from rose bushes to winter squash, kale or potatoes — and different plants require varied treatments to protect them from the cold and frost. If you’re not a master gardener yourself, your local nursery should be able to offer advice. The top three things to remember are that plants need to be well-hydrated in order to prevent stress, that they might need extra nutrition (fertilizer) during the cold season, and that most plants like an extra blanket (in the form of additional mulch) during the winter.

Again, specific solutions will depend on the types of plants in your garden, but a little extra effort this fall will help even your traditional flower garden bloom even more beautifully come spring!

Extend The Growing Season

If you have a backyard vegetable garden or a raised bed full of herbs and spices, and you live in an area with mild to moderate winters, you might be able to extend the growing season indefinitely by covering your beds or tenting the garden. Learn how to protect your plants from freezing by using a frost blanket or rotating row covers. It’s not really that difficult, and the difference of only a few degrees can make a big difference. 

Although frost blankets can top plants directly, you can make them even more effective if you build a simple framework — something like a miniature greenhouse — to give your plants a winter home that allows air to circulate.

For additional information, check with a local greenhouse or nursery, or just experiment with different ideas. No matter what you plan to do, the time to begin is now!

If you are interested in putting your house on the market, your trusted real estate agent has tips and tricks to make the outside and inside of your home shine for potential buyers.