5 Creative Ways To Buy A Foreclosure

5 Creative Ways To Buy A ForeclosureBuying a foreclosed home is easy, right? After all, they sell for pennies on the dollar, right? Well, that could be a false assumption. Buying a foreclosed property appears easy on TV, but in reality, it can be overwhelming. 

Foreclosure sales continue to decline in the market from 38.6 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2017 but ticking up a bit in 2018 according to Attom Data Solutions, a national property data company. As foreclosure sales drop, competition for these properties become stiffer and more complex. And as home prices increase in most cities, buyers often turn to foreclosures as affordable alternatives for landing their dream home

Foreclosures usually occur when homeowners can no longer pay their mortgages and the mortgagees seize the properties. Once former owners vacate the properties, lenders typically put it on sale at discounted price or auction to the highest bidder. 

Foreclosures give homebuyers the opportunity to get great deals. While foreclosures can save you thousands of dollars, it may come with risks. Having a stomach of steel can help when pursuing a foreclosure.  

To mitigate the risks involved, keep the following hacks and tricks in mind.  

Budget Carefully 

Don’t allow a small price tag to entice you into a quick deal. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do you have sufficient dollars for extensive repairs? 
  • Do you have a team ready for any required repairs or are you handy at doing them yourself? 
  • Can you find a tenant if you intend to rent?

If you conduct thorough research, you’ll minimize the risks. 

Get A Home Inspection 

Though foreclosures are usually sold “as is”, you need to know the property deficiencies. The home seller can allow you to bring in a competent home inspector. Your inspector will give you a list of what the property lacks and the cost estimates needed to complete the renovations. You may even want to hire a home inspector after purchasing a foreclosure just to get a thorough review of the property.

Ask For Vacancy Duration  

Ask how long the house remained vacant. In most cases, long vacancy means more damages. For example, plumbing seals may dry out, bugs get into the house and sewer gases back up. 

Don’t Ignore The Landscaping 

Neglected landscaping contribute to house deterioration. Tree seedlings grow roots into the foundation and vines crawl into the windows. Small trees can also mess up pavers, and dead branches can break and crash into the house.  

Be Cautious With Auctions 

Although auctions are common with foreclosures, it’s best to avoid them. And if you can’t, be vigilant when bidding. Competitive bidding can raise the value so high that you end up losing money after the cost of repairs. 

It’s always best to work with your trusted local real estate professional to find foreclosure properties. They are experienced in determining the quality of the properties and can help you through the tenuous foreclosure purchase process.

How To Stage A House For A Faster Sale At A Higher Price

How To Stage A House For A Faster Sale At A Higher Price“Staging” a house means to prepare it for sale in ways that make it more attractive to potential buyers. Homeowners can do much of this staging work themselves and should get suggestions from their real estate agent. They can also hire a professional to do the staging work for them.

Value-Added Staging

A study of 4,200 sold homes, conducted by Home Staging Resource (HSR), found that 85% of the staged homes sold for 6% to 25% more than a home that was not staged.

Forbes reports that 95% of staged homes sell in 11 days or less. This is 87% faster when compared to the time it takes, on average, to sell a home that is not staged.

An average home sells for 10% to 20% less than the asking price. It may be even more beneficial to stage a home that would otherwise have to sell as a “fixer-upper.” When listing a home, which is in disrepair, the asking price must be at a steep discount from the market value of a similar home that is in a better condition. This steep discount may be reduced by staging the home properly.

The general rule-of-thumb is that every $100 dollar invested in staging may return up to $400 in a higher sales price.

Staging Priorities

The National Association of REALTORS® published the 2017 Profile of Home Staging, which says the staging priorities are:

  • Declutter: Decluttering a home creates more open space that makes the home look bigger. Remove at least half of the items in the home and two-thirds of the stuff in the closets. De-personalize the home by removing photos, kid toys, items for pets, etc.
  • Cleaning: The entire house needs to be immaculately clean, inside and out, to the level of a five-star hotel.
  • Carpet Cleaning/Replacement: Carpet needs to look and smell like new or it should be replaced.
  • No Pets or Children: Do not have children or pets in the home, when showing it to potential buyers.
  • Renovations: Repairs, re-painting, and re-decorating should be done tastefully and by using neutral colors that appeal to most people.
  • Rooms: Priority staging concentrates on these rooms, in this order: 1) Living Room; 2) Kitchen; 3) Master Bedroom and Bath, and 4) Dining Room.
  • Vacant Home: A vacant home will probably sell much easier when staged using rented furniture.

Conclusion

Staging a home for sale makes perfect sense and is worth the investment of time, energy, and money. The benefits are that the home usually sells for a better price, probably sells more quickly, and the investment in staging usually makes a profit for the home seller. Consult your trusted real estate professional for guidance in selling your home quickly for a great price.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 26th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 26th, 2018Last week’s economic readings included readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, National Association of Realtors® report on sales of pre-owned homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Housing Market Challenges Catch Up to Builder Sentiment

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder sentiment fell six points to November’s reading of 60. This was the largest decline in builder sentiment since 2016. Ongoing concerns over lot and labor shortages and rising costs of building materials were cited along with recently rising mortgage rates.

Demand for homes eased as potential buyers were sidelined by rising rates, shortages of homes for sale and approaching winter weather and holidays. Any Housing Market Index reading over 50 is considered positive, but steep drops in builder sentiment is considered a predictor of stabilizing market conditions.

National Association of Realtors®: Sales of Pre-Owned Home Sales Rise in October

Sales of previously-owned homes rose in October to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.22 million sales as compared to September’s reading of 5.15 million sales. Analysts estimated a reading of 5.18 million sales. While this reading suggests that buyers are active, an increase in home sales signals easing demand as compared to recent months when many buyers were sidelined due to extreme buyer competition for short inventories of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates First-Time Jobless Claims Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.81 percent, which was 13 basis points lower than the previous week. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.24 percent and were 12 basis points lower.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 4.09 percent and were five basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose last week to 224,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 215,000 claims. The prior week’s reading was 221,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic readings set for release this week include Case-Shiller home price indices, new home sales and pending home sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

How To Choose Between Laminate And Hardwood Flooring

How To Choose Between Laminate And Hardwood FlooringPicking out a new flooring can be exciting. After all, as anyone knows, new flooring in a home or business property can completely change the entire atmosphere. A common question asked by commercial and residential property owners is “Should I go with laminate or hardwood flooring?”

If you have found yourself asking this question, understand that both types of flooring materials each have their own pros and cons. For the most part, hardwood flooring tends to be more expensive than laminate but this isn’t always the case.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits and disadvantages of laminate and hardwood flooring.

Pros And Cons Of Laminate Flooring

Most times, laminate flooring will be about 50 percent less expensive than hardwood flooring. It has a beautiful finish and can give the appearance of a real hardwood floor. Also, being that it is made of pressed wood, it tends to be a bit more durable than hardwood as well as more scratch resistant.

Although it’s usually easier to clean, if you don’t invest in high-quality laminate, you’ll end up with flooring that looks as if it has fake wood grains. In all actuality, this is what cheap laminate flooring is; cheap wood grains pressed together.

Pros And Cons Of Hardwood Flooring

Although hardwood flooring is more susceptible to scratching, you may like this characteristic because it gives it a more natural look. When it comes to beauty, nothing beats real hardwood flooring, and best of all, it tends to last many years longer than laminate. Because of this, even though such flooring is a bit more expensive than laminate, being that it lasts longer, it’s considered to be a very good investment.

Think About The Lighting In Your Home

One very important aspect to think about when choosing flooring for your home is whether or not your floors see a lot of daylight. The sun and its UV rays will cause real hardwood flooring to fade. Laminate on the other hand is usually made with UV protection. If you like to keep your blinds open and let natural sunlight in, it’s usually best to invest in laminate flooring.

Don’t let choosing the perfect flooring material for your home stress you out. With a bit of research, you’ll be well on your way to deciding whether laminate or hardwood is a better investment for your lifestyle and personal needs.

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

3 Important Factors That Affect Your Real Estate Transaction

3 Important Factors That Affect Your Real Estate TransactionThe real estate market is quite different from other markets and can be confusing for even the most experienced buyers and sellers. You will need the help of a real estate agent whether you are an experienced buyer or doing it for the first time.

Even with the help of an agent, you can educate yourself on some of the basic elements of a real estate transaction in order to make yourself more comfortable throughout the process.

Here are 3 things that you should be aware of before you start a real estate transaction:

Market Demand And Sales Price

There are many factors that determine the appropriate sales price at which you sell or buy a piece of property. Among them is the market demand and other recently sold homes in the immediate area that match the characteristics of your home. Real estate agents can prepare a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help you understand the recent activity in your market and the best price to list your home at.

If you’re a buyer, you can ask your agent to run a property listing report to show you all of the comparable homes that are currently listed in your area. You can even get set up on an automatic email update of any home that meets your criteria as soon as it comes on the market or there is a change in the listing price.

A professional real estate agent can be of great help when it comes to finding customers for your property. As a buyer, you can seek for the services of a real estate agent that will help you in getting a property at affordable prices.

Absorption Rate

This term is quite common among real estate agents, however a lot of consumers haven’t ever heard of it. It is the amount of time taken to sell a piece of property that is listed in a particular market based on the total housing inventory and the average monthly properties sold. The absorption rate can guide you if you are planning to make investment in a particular area or if you are planning on selling your home.

For instance, if you know the average time on the market for a home similar to yours is 90 days you can plan approximately when to list your property in order to move at a specific time. It’s important to understand that many factors determine whether a particular home sells within the average time frame, but it can be useful as a guide. A professional real estate agent is your best resource to find out the details on your local market absorption rate.

Escrow

There are many buyers and even sellers that have seen funds mishandled when making a private real estate transaction. The best way to prevent this from happening is by opening an escrow account. This account is virtually always opened with an independent third party on behalf of the buyer and seller at the beginning of the transaction.

Some escrow companies also handle the title research and title insurance elements of the real estate transaction. They hold all of the documents and money until the transaction has been completed. At the end of the transaction they balance all of the expenses and deposits and ensure that each party is compensated appropriately.

As always, working with a team of real estate professionals is the best way to navigate all of the elements of your next real estate deal. 

What Does A Home’s Energy Rating Imply?

What Does A Home's Energy Rating ImplyYour home’s energy rating is an evaluation of your home’s overall energy efficiency. If your house’s rating is high, it means your potential for energy loss is also high. Bringing your rating numbers down means that your home is becoming more energy efficient. 

Your home’s energy rating is based on several things. When your energy company does a home energy audit, they are looking for ways that your home or its components are wasting energy. A low rating means that a home is more energy efficient than one with a higher number. For example, if a home is rated at 70 on the HERS Index, it is approximately 30% more energy efficient than a home built in 2006. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining a home’s energy rating.

Here are several things you can do to bring your numbers within an acceptable range. 

Energy Efficient Appliances

All new appliances manufactured within the United States must now carry an energy rating label that states its efficiency and how much energy is required for it operate. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that, in order to save as much energy as possible, appliances are to be manufactured to certain specifications that will allow them to be operated using as little energy as possible.

HVAC System

One of the biggest energy drains in your home is your HVAC system. With regular maintenance and prompt repairs, your heating and cooling system can operate at maximum efficiency for many years to come. Changing the filters every month and keeping the ductwork and vents properly cleaned can also help your HVAC system to function efficiently and may reduce any type of energy waste.

Insulation, Windows, And Doors

Other areas where energy can be lost is through the roof and the windows and doors. Adding more insulation to your attic may prevent energy from being lost through the roof. It can help to keep your home cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months. Replacing older windows with newer, more energy efficient windows can dramatically reduce energy loss and improve your home’s energy rating. The same is true for older doors that may have worn weatherstripping.

The government offers rebates on your federal taxes for each home improvement you make that improves your home’s energy rating. If you are interested in learning more about energy ratings, contact your local utility company to have an energy audit performed. They will provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

If you are in the market for a new energy efficient home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 19th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – November 19th, 2018Last week’s economic news included readings on inflation, core inflation and retail sales. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Inflation, Retail Sales Rise in October

Commerce Department readings for October showed higher inflation and retail sales. Consumer Price Index rose by 0.30 percent and met expectations. September’s CPI reading was 0.10 percent. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy sectors, also met expectations with a reading of 0.20 percent growth. September’s reading was 0.10 percent. Analysts attributed the highest reading in nine months to higher costs of fuel, rent and used cars.

Retail sales recovered from September’s negative reading of -0.10 percent and surpassed expectations of 0.60 percent growth with October’s reading of 0.80 percent. Higher fuel prices prompted the jump in retail sales after August and September readings were revised to negative readings. Recent declines in oil prices were expected to stabilize gas prices for consumers.

The reading for retail sales excluding autos also exceeded expectations with a reading of 0.70 percent. Analysts expected growth of 0.50 percent based September’s revised reading of -0.10 percent. Looking forward to the holiday shopping season, analysts expected robust readings for retail sales. Increased wages and a strong labor market were expected to help consumers during the holiday shopping season.

Mortgage Rates Stabilize

Mortgage rates were mostly unchanged last week, which provided a reprieve for home buyers. Freddie Mac reported that rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.33 percent and was unchanged from the prior week. Mortgage rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages rose three basis points and averaged 4.36 percent.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent and were unchanged from the prior week. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages. Discount points for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were 0.30 percent on average.

First-time jobless claims were higher last week with a reading of 216,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 210,000 new claims filed and the prior week’s reading of 214,000 new claims filed New jobless claims remained near historic lows despite last week’s increase in claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. The National Association of Realtors® will release its report on sales of pre-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy Homes

5 Strategies Millennials Can Use To Buy HomesMillennials face numerous challenges when buying their first homes. 55% of young adults between 25 and 34 years old don’t own homes as compared to 80% in 1967, according to data from the Census Bureau. 

Buying a home is tough with the $1.4 trillion student loan debt, growing childcare expenses and rising rental costs. However, hope is not lost. Millennials can realize the quintessential dream of owning a home. 

Millennials can employ several strategies to plan for home ownership without selling their kidneys. Here are five ways to do just that. 

Develop A Realistic Budget 

Now is a great time to examine your finances and create a budget for a house you can really afford. Lenders may be able to approve you for a larger loan amount than what you thought possible. Therefore, it’s imperative to be realistic when deciding on the amount of home mortgage payment you can afford comfortably per month.   

Make Sacrifices 

Not long ago, someone said (and probably regretted) Millennials can’t save enough to buy homes because they are spend extravagantly. Well, saving thousands of dollars for down payment isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible either. And there are many low to no down payment programs available if you check with your trusted mortgage professional first.

You may have to sacrifice and cut unnecessary expenditures such as buying new outfits and even getting a new car. Living minimally can help pad your personal savings to propel you into owning a house. 

Consider The Suburbs 

Although it’s vital to stay near family and a lively social location, consider purchasing a house in a suburban area, where houses are typically more affordable. Plus, if you have pets they will love the larger lots and yards giving them space to play.

You can choose a less populated state where you will probably have a higher chance of affording a home. Although this may not be ideal, if owning your own place tops your list, then location will not stand in the way. 

Use State And Federal Programs 

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) gives home buyers the chance to purchase houses with a very low down payment. This lower amount is quite attainable if you save toward this goal.  Some states also offer supplemental programs beyond the FHA program. Find out whether you can access extra grants and subsidies. 

Get Your Hustle In Gear 

Although most millennials struggle with unemployment, if you have one job, look for other ways to make extra dollars. You may consider driving for rideshare services, freelance gigs and running errands for people as a way to temporarily boost your earning potential.

Owning a place to call home is great. Like anyone else millennials can buy homes. Talk to a home finance expert and your trusted real estate agent for more information on how you can make your best investment. 

5 Home Design Trends To Watch Out In 2019

Home design trends continue to change at supersonic speeds. With New Year right around the corner, the home design world is focusing on trends that will probably reign big in 2019. 

5 Home Design Trends To Watch Out In 2019So, as you make your annual resolutions or consider revamping your home, it’s worth knowing them. After all, we all adore coming back to a place that makes us happy and helps us disconnect from tough days at work. 

It’s wise to be aware of temporary fads in design, but don’t be shy to try some new home designs and decor in 2019. In this post, we explore five trends to watch out for in 2019. 

Nature Luxury 

Blending outdoors with indoors continues to trend and is not stopping soon. Today, the idea enjoys a boost from state-of-the-art accessories made from natural elements to complete the appearance. Natural fibers, wood and rattan are getting indoors, helping to blur the lines. 

Classic Terrazzo Comeback 

Terrazzo, a hard stone with chips of granite, glass, marble and quartz reigns with its speckle signatures. Terrazzo was popular in the 80s but making a comeback in 2019. Because of its versatility, terrazzo is preferably used on countertops and not floors. This comeback will likely take away from marble’s more recent popularity. 

Colored Kitchens 

Though white remains a classic color for most kitchen designs, homeowners are injecting vibrant colors and shying away from bland hues. Rich colors, including wood tones and neutrals like mahogany, blues and grays are making their way into kitchens giving them a fresh, warm and unique feel. 

Social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest play key roles exposing homeowners to the endless possibilities and fun of rich colors, encouraging them to be risk takers when it comes to color. 

Blue Hues 

Blues are gaining popularity in interior dress ups. Most paint companies prefer shades of blue as their top choice in 2019. Blueprint is often seen as warmer than denim and softer than navy. Blue is perfect for reflecting the pool. The coloration is also popping up in home accessories like artwork, pillows and throws. 

Florals 

Though tropical palm prints remained popular this year, people aren’t tired of the look quite yet. In fact, eye-catching, oversized florals will probably dominate throughout 2019, with more complex interpretations expected. 

Your trusted real estate professional is familiar with popular trends in your area. Be sure to let them know what tops your list! 

How To Handle Common Homeowner Challenges

How To Handle Common Homeowner ChallengesIt takes hard work to achieve the American Dream of homeownership. Everyday people work to save for a down payment and build a good credit score. When you turn the key to your first home or dream home, the sweat equity feels well worth it.

But the hard work of buying a home continues long after hanging family photos and hooking up a big-screen TV. There are challenges that property owners are unprepared to handle. These are three of the more common ones you may want to be ready to manage.

Leaking Pipes

Plumbing does not last forever and at some point, it will begin to leak. For people who have wells on their property, copper pipes can wear thin faster. That’s because the pH of well water can tend to be on the more acidic side and corrode pipes quicker.

Many homeowners are ill prepared to deal with pipes that spring a leak. If a leak goes unchecked, the water can cause other damage or hazardous mold growth behind walls and under floorboards. While one solution is often having a plumber make an expensive emergency call, there are other simple solutions.

Take a piece of an old bicycle tire tube and fasten it tight over the leak using a pair of hosepipe screw clamps. These clamps wrap around the pipe and can be closed over the rubber and leak using a screwdriver. If you do not have these items handy, it may be in your best interest to spend less the $5 and get them sooner rather than later.

Moisture In The Bathroom

The single most destructive force to any home is not rodents or termite infestations. Water can do more damage than the average homeowner might imagine. A poorly ventilated bathroom can create one of the most hazardous problems.

When moisture seeps behind walls or under the floor, it can spur on dangerous mold growth. These health hazards often go undetected and sick family members may not know the root cause is hidden behind the walls.

Overly moist bathroom walls from hot showers are a telltale sign that you need improved ventilation. Start immediately by opening a window when showering and enlist the help of a professional to properly vent the bathroom. The difference could be thousands of dollars in ripping out walls and rebuilding, not to mention your health.

Power Outages

There are two types of power outages that homeowners would be wise to prepare for — short ones and long ones. If your power is interrupted for a few hours or half of a day, keep the refrigerator shut and enjoy the time without television noise. A few inexpensive battery-operated lanterns or candles will provide enough light.

But if you are hit by a long-term outage, there are things you can do ahead of time to be prepared. Many homeowners in areas that suffer annual severe weather incidents purchase generators. Small ones can be set outside and run electricity to important items. Even a modest generator can help a homeowner through a week-long outage.

If you don’t have a backup generator, the time is now to prepare. They will fly off the shelves when the lights go out.

The joy of homeownership is coupled with ongoing challenges. Planning ahead can save time, money and help keep your dream home in tip-top shape.

Your trusted real estate professionals has tons of tips for homeowners and will likely be able to make sound referrals for home improvement professionals if the need presents itself.