House Hunting When You Are In A Time Crunch

House Hunting When You Are In A Time CrunchIn an ideal world, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, that does not always happen. Maybe you are relocating because of a job transfer. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take months to find the perfect home. You can speed up the process of buying a home utilizing some tried and true tips. 

Here are some of the best ways to speed up the house buying process. 

Find An Experienced Real Estate Agent 

An experienced agent likely has an extensive network and many connections. They might know what properties are coming on the market before anyone else does. They can also help you assemble a great team of real estate professionals such as a mortgage banker and real estate attorney. 

Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Obtaining a home loan is a long process that requires a lot of paperwork. You can speed up the process by getting pre-approved before looking for homes. You’ll need to gather some paperwork for pre-approval including bank statements, tax returns and information about your debt. Have all of these things ready when you talk with the mortgage loan officer.

Having a pre-approval letter also demonstrates to sellers that you are serious about buying. They might be more likely to respond quickly to your offer if they feel that the deal will go through. 

Make A List Of Things That You Must Have 

If you are in a hurry to buy a home, you don’t want to waste time looking at houses that won’t meet your needs. So, before doing any online research, make a list of things of your must-have amenities. Zeroing on the things that you must have will help keep you focused on properties that are right for you. 

Search Areas That Have A lot of Inventory 

Don’t waste time looking at communities that don’t have much inventory. The real estate market will be a lot more competitive. Instead, try choosing areas that meet your needs as far as easy access to your work, quality of the school and so forth. Make sure that they have plenty of inventory available. You might have to hunt in surrounding neighborhoods to find something quickly. 

Be Available to Act Quickly 

If you want to close quickly, you must be available to act as soon as an offer is accepted. It is essential to be available anytime to get in touch with your agent, respond to counter-offers and answer questions. Provide your agent with multiple ways to reach you — by phone, email or text. 

Contact your trusted real estate professional today to help you with these tips and many more to make your new home purchase as hassle-free and timely as possible.

Rebuilding Costs: Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really Need

Rebuilding Costs Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really NeedBuying a home comes with numerous financial planning obligations. It’s far from a turn-key operation and one of the significant challenges involves developing a working knowledge about things often outside your area of expertise.

For example, working as an educator, police officer, investment banker or office staffer does not necessarily make you an expert about home repairs or insurance coverage. Yet, the average homeowner is tasked with carrying a certain level of homeowners insurance coverage without a strong working knowledge.

Many homeowners just purchase enough insurance to cover the purchase price or take the advice of others. Both of those methods could prove wildly deficient.

Rethinking Total Replacement Costs

A distinct difference exists between a home’s purchase price, assessed value and total replacement costs. Let that idea sink in a minute. What you paid for your home and it’s assessed value have zero to do with what it would cost to rebuild in the event of a total loss!

If you based your homeowners coverage on purchase price or estimated value, the word that comes to mind is “Yikes.” Here’s why.

Construction costs are based on prevailing market prices that include building materials and labor costs. These vary from region to region and can pique do to materials shortages and shifting prevailing wages. National home-building averages run anywhere from $117 to $125 per square foot. But even as you read this article, that could change.

Beyond the fundamentals of calculating home construction costs on a square-foot basis, consider that rebuilding your home means that some type of catastrophe occurred. Whether that was a hurricane, tornado, flooding, fire or another disaster, there will likely be cleanup costs.

Before starting new construction, the damaged property will likely need to be razed and damaged materials removed. That comes at a cost.

Building permits and licenses will come at an additional cost. An architectural blueprint and design may need to be secured and that also comes at a cost. The permitting process can be challenging and that could result in you having to rent a temporary residence while your home is rebuilt. Obviously, there are plenty of unforeseen expenses.

Specialty Building Costs

Although average building costs per square foot are a viable standard measure, many homes enjoy specialty items.

Consider that you own a home built decades ago. The high-quality building materials used in construction may be considered specialty items today. They may inevitably be far more expensive than common building materials. If you want the home fully restored, that could cost more than the estimated average.

Accents such as rounded archways or plank-board floors are also more expensive to replace than many average materials. Those are all considerations that need to be tallied when insuring a home.

How To Recalculate Homeowners Insurance

Take the time to calculate the square footage of your home against average construction costs in your area. Factor in specialty items, permitting, razing and other potential hidden costs. Add 10-20 percent. According to some insurance experts, the average home is underinsured by upwards of 22 percent. After the carrier has paid out the coverage limit, overages could become out-of-pocket expenses.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a reputable home builder or insurance expert. Full coverage means accurately accounting for all of the rebuilding costs. 

Contact your trusted real estate professional to inquire about current home construction costs, referrals to an insurance agent and more.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 18th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 18th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included the post-meeting statement by the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee along with readings on retail sales and inflation. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

Fed Raises Key Interest Rate on Strong Economic Indicators

The post-meeting announcement by the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve indicated that committee members voted to raise the target federal funds rate to 0.175 to 2.00 percent from the prior rate of 1.50 to 1.75 percent.

The post-meeting announcement cited strong economic conditions and stated that FOMC had altered their outlook from three rate increases in 2018 to four increases. This news is significant to consumers as banks and credit card companies typically raise lending rates in response to Federal Reserve actions.

Committee members were closely divided on interest rate forecasts for 2018. Eight members said that the Fed rate would likely increase four times in 2018 while seven members said three rate increases would be appropriate. The post-meeting statement also cited concerns over inflation and Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that raising interest rates too fast could increase the risk of recession.

Consumer Price Index, Retail Sales Rise in May

The Consumer Price Index rose from 0.10 percent in April to 0.20 percent in May according to the Commerce Department. The Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, was unchanged at 0.20 percent against expectations of 0.20 percent growth and 0.20 percent in April.

Retail sales rose 0.80 percent in May as compared to expectations of 0.40 percent growth and April’s growth rate of 0.40 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector rose 0.90 percent in May; analysts expected a reading of 0.50 percent based on April’s reading of 0.40 percent growth.

Mortgage Rates Rise, New Jobless claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged eight basis points higher at 4.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.07 percent.

Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were nine basis points higher at 3.83 percent on average. Freddie Mac analysts said that demand for homes is holding steady despite higher mortgage rates.

First-time jobless claims fell by 4,000 new claims to 218,000 new claims filed. Analysts expected 225,000 new claims to be filed based on the prior week’s reading of 222,000 new jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include NAHB Housing Market Indices, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued and National Association of Realtors® reports on sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?Are you considering buying a flipped house? Here are some ways to tell if it is a good idea or not.

If you watch popular TV shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, you might believe that buying a remodeled home is a great idea. These shows always have happy endings. The process looks fun and easy, and the houses turn out beautiful. However, it is rarely this easy when buying a real-life remodeled home.

There are plenty of flipped houses that turn out to have significant problems. Contractors who do remodels sometimes rush through the job. This can lead to subpar work. While the house might look beautiful initially, problems could start to show up months later.  

A flipped house can be a great deal. However, it pays to do your homework before buying one. Maintain a skeptical eye when touring the home. If you notice any of these things, move on.

Unpermitted Work

If you live in a full-disclosure state like Texas, you are in luck. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers everything that they know about the house. This should make it easy to get a list of the work that the flipper completed.

Even if you don’t live in a state that requires full disclosure, still ask for a list of work. After you have a list of the upgrades, check for permits. Most larger remodeling projects need a permit.

Avoid a remodeled home that has had unpermitted upgrades. There is a chance that it is not up to code. Aside from being a safety risk, unpermitted work can make it harder to get financing or insurance on a home.

A Flipper With A Bad Reputation

Before making an offer on a rehabbed home, ask who did the work. Learn everything you can about the person or company. Are they known for doing high-quality work?  

Flippers that have solid reputations want happy customers. Most want to avoid legal issues later, which could ruin their reputation and damage their business. So, they will usually ensure that the work is up to standard.

Avoid flippers or contractors that are not well known. Many move on to the next town after the job is over and so don’t care if they leave behind unhappy customers as they won’t be around.

A Failed Inspection

Beautiful hardwood floors, countertops and shiny new kitchen appliances might make a house look like it was just built. However, most flipped houses hide a dark history. Many remodeled homes have had a substantial lack of maintenance and were in a state of significant disrepair before being flipped.

Some contractors cover up problems rather than do the extensive work needed. Therefore, it pays to have the home inspected. A good home inspector will be more likely to spot things that an average homeowner might miss.

Your trusted real estate agent can help you navigate through a sea of new or remodeled properties to find the best fit for you. 

 

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb Appeal

5 Inexpensive Ways To Boost Your Curb AppealIt’s no secret that we’re in the midst of a hot seller’s real estate market. That means that good homes are going fast, usually at or above list price. This is largely the result of low inventory, where good homes are scarce, keeping competition for them – and listing prices – high.

Bottom line: If you’ve been thinking about selling your home, there’s no time like the present. But before you put your home on the market, it pays to put some work into it to make it more attractive to potential buyers – and while it’s the interior that often leads to the eventual offer, it’s the exterior that first has to hook the potential buyer and capture their interest.

With that said, here’s a look at five simple, inexpensive ways you can boost your home’s curb appeal:

Paint The Front Door

Being that the front door is often the first thing that people see when accessing your property, painting it in a bold color can really help make it stand out. Just be sure that the color complements the house facade and doesn’t clash with it.

Pressure Wash Your Siding/Brick

Siding, especially siding that is light in color, can get dirty over time. What’s more is that it can often bleed its color onto any brick that is located below it. The good news is that for about $50 you can rent a pressure washer and give your siding and brick a good thorough cleaning. You may be surprised at how nice it looks afterwards.

Upgrade Your Mailbox

While the mailbox may seem like a big project, you can actually purchase a nice new one for only about $20. So if your home’s current mailbox is rusted, dented or just doesn’t complement the overall look of the house, buying and installing a new one certainly won’t break the bank.

Flower Boxes

Is your front porch a little bland and in need of some color? If so, then flower boxes are a great way to do it. Put these in the windows or along the bottom of the front porch, and be sure to pick out some flowers that really pack some oomph when it comes to noticing and appreciating the house.

New House Numbers

A nice house number won’t just make it easier for potential buyers to find your home, but if it’s done the right way it can greatly enhance its exterior. There are many different finishes and styles you can choose from for this, and they’re all fairly inexpensive.

For more information on some affordable ways to give your home a boost in curb appeal, contact your real estate agent today.

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage Ready

Selling Your Home? 4 Ways To Get Your Garage ReadyAre you selling your home? If so, then don’t forget to stage this vital area of your house.

The garage is often the last thing on seller’s minds when it comes to home staging. It is prudent to make sure your kitchen and bathrooms are perfect for showings. Make sure that you don’t neglect your garage when getting your home ready to sell.

A good-looking garage can be a great selling point. Has your garage become a greasy, junk-filled space that you don’t like to visit? If so, then buyers won’t want to see it either. Fortunately, it is easy to get your garage in top shape before your showings. Up the appeal of your garage with these easy tricks.

Get Rid Clutter

The first step to getting your garage in tip-top shape is to remove all of the clutter. The garage often becomes a storage place for random things. Purge everything that you don’t need. Getting rid of junk can help make moving easier and more comfortable, as well. Divide your stuff into piles: trash, donate and keep. Get rid of all garbage. Recycle broken items. You can give things that you don’t need anymore to Goodwill or another charity.

Organize

Buyers love organized homes, and this goes for the garage too. Organizing your garage can also help make your move easier. Install a pegboard on your wall. Pegboards are inexpensive, and they can make a garage look neat and clean. You can use ceiling space to hang items. Ceiling-mounted racks are easy to install and not too pricey. Buyers will appreciate the extra storage space as well.

Paint the Floor

Is your garage floor stained with rust or oil? A dirty garage floor can turn buyers off. You can brighten up your garage and make the concrete look brand new with a couple of coats of epoxy garage floor paint. It isn’t very costly or time-consuming to refinish your garage floor. This is a project that most people can do in a spare weekend.

Add Light

Most garages don’t have windows. As a result, they tend to be dark and dreary. The first step in adding light to your garage is to replace any light bulbs that aren’t working. If your garage still looks dark, consider installing additional lighting. You can replace your standard bulb with a multi-directional LED fixture if you only have one lighting fixture in your garage. These are kind of pricey but they don’t require expensive rewiring. They simply screw into your existing socket and offer about four times more lighting compared to a traditional 60-watt bulb.  

Contact your trusted real estate agent for more valuable tips like these to get your home market-ready in no time.

 

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.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 11th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 11th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included analyst assertions that U.S. housing markets are overvalued in over 50 percent of markets. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

CoreLogic: Over Half of Top 50 U.S. Housing Markets Overvalued

Rapidly rising home prices are causing some U.S. markets to be overvalued, which means that home prices are higher than a community’s ability to sustain. What goes up must come down in such scenarios, but home prices continue to grow in many areas.

While Boston, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California continued to see rapidly rising home prices, analysts said that residents of the two cities had incomes sufficient to meet the cost of homes. Examples of cities where home prices were overvalued in April included os Angeles, California, Denver, Colorado and Washington, D.C. Supplies of available homes have fallen over the last three years.  Real estate pros and analysts continue to cite building more homes is the only solution to the shortage.

The National Association of Realtors® said that although supplies of new homes have increased in recent months, most newly built homes are priced for move-up buyers. Moderate-income and first-time buyers haven’t seen much improvement in available affordable homes. Rising mortgage rates in recent months also presented an obstacle to finding affordable homes.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates last week. Rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell two basis points to 4.54 percent; rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage were five basis points lower at an average rate of 4.01 percent. Rates for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage averaged 3.74 percent and were six basis points lower. Discount points for 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 0.50 percent; discount points for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 0.40 percent.

First-time jobless claims fell last week despite predictions that they would rise. 222,000 new claims were filed as compared to expectations of 225,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 223,000 new claims.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic releases include the post-meeting statement from the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, readings on consumer prices and retail sales. Mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

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.