Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller’s Market? Yes, It’s Still Possible

Seller-Paid Closing Costs In A Seller's Market Yes, It's Still PossibleFor first-time home buyers, closing costs are a major hurdle for home ownership. Coming up with a down payment and several thousand dollars for closing costs can be hard without home equity to tap.

To help, buyers often ask sellers to cover all or some of these costs. In markets favoring buyers, this is a common habit, but when the market switches to favoring sellers it becomes harder. Sellers who know they may get multiple offers are less likely to say “yes” to this request.

Yet even when the market favors sellers, buyers can still ask for this help. It all depends on how the offer is presented. Here’s how to potentially make it look appealing, even with other offers on the table.

Buyers Need To Consider The Total Amount

Many sellers build negotiation room into their asking prices. This means they anticipate some offers coming in that are lower than their asking price.

Buyers asking for closing costs can offer the full asking price or more than the asking price to make the offer more appealing.

For example, if the buyer needs $2,000 in closing costs, and offers $2,000 more than the asking price, the seller won’t stand to lose money and will find the offer more appealing. This, in effect, rolls the closing costs into the loan.

On the flip side, if a buyer makes an offer well below the asking price, then also asks for closing costs, the seller is likely to say no.

Buyers Should Consider Other Components Of Their Offer

Sometimes the problem the buyer faces is a lack of cash to cover the closing costs, particularly when using a no- or low-down payment loan option. To make the offer more appealing, buyers should look at the rest of the offer’s terms.

For example, a buyer may ask for closing costs but overlook other contingencies, such as non-urgent repairs. This makes the offer appealing, because the seller’s costs even out.

Buyers Can Offer To Close Quickly

Another way to make seller-paid closing costs something a seller will accept is moving the closing date up. Most sellers want to sell quickly, so the faster the buyer can close, the better the offer may look.

For buyers in a seller’s market who need closing cost help, the key is to make all other aspects of the offer appealing. By doing so, these buyers may just get the closing cost help they need to move forward with their home purchase.

Your trusted real estate professional is well-versed in the art of negotiation and will be a great resource to guide you through your home buying or selling process. 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 6th, 2018

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 6th, 2018Last week’s economic reports included readings from Case-Shiller, Commerce Department reports on pending home sales and construction spending and an FOMC statement. Labor sector reports on job creation and the national unemployment rate were released along with the monthly Consumer Confidence Index. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller: Home Price Growth Holds Steady in May

Home price analysts Case-Shiller reported national home prices rose 0.40 percent in May and were 6.40 percent higher year-over-year. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index was 0.20 percent higher in May and 6.50 percent higher year-over-year. Only seven cities reported home price growth in May, but home prices were higher than gains reported in April.

Home price gains were highest in in Seattle, Washington with a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year gain of 13.60 percent: Las Vegas, Nevada; reported seasonally-adjusted home price growth of 12.60 percent. San Francisco, California reported a seasonally-adjusted annual home price growth of 10.90 percent. Analysts said that home price growth may be slowing, but it grew faster than wages and inflation, which continued to present challenges for first-time and moderate-income hone buyers.

Pending home Sales Grow as Construction Spending Dips

The National Association of Realtors® reported an index reading of 106.9, which was 2.50 percent lower than in May. June was the sixth consecutive month that year-over-year pending sales were lower than in the preceding year-over-year period. Pending home sales increased by 0.90 percent in June as compared to a negative reading of -0.50 percent in May.

Construction spending fell by 1.10 percent in June as compared to 1.30 percent growth in May. Analysts expected construction spending to rise by 0.90 percent in June. Home builders continued to face headwinds such as rising materials costs, labor shortages and slim supplies of buildable lots.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Rise

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the federal funds rate, which held steady at a range of 1.75 – 2.00 percent. This news did not stop average mortgage rates from moving up. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose six basis points to 4.60 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage also rose six basis points to 4.08 percent. Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages also rose six basis points and averaged3.93 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 218,000 new claims and fell short of analyst expectations of 220,000 new claims filed, which was based on the prior week’s reading of 217,000 new claims.

Unemployment rate Falls Below 4 Percent

July’s National Unemployment Rate dipped to 3.90 percent and matched analyst expectations. In May, unemployment reached 4.00 percent.

Jobs grew in July with ADP posting 219,000 new private-sector jobs and the Commerce Department reported 157,000 new public and private sector jobs added in July. Analysts expected 195,000 new jobs to be added to Non-Farm Payrolls based on 248,000 mew jobs added in June.

The University of Michigan reported that its Consumer Confidence Index gained 0.30 points for an index reading of 127.40 percent.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on consumer expectations, July job openings, inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Top Tips To Get Mortgage Pre-Approval Fast

Top Tips To Get Mortgage Pre-Approval FastWhen buying a house in a market that favors sellers, buyers must be able to move quickly. Mortgage pre-approval is critical to this. Here are some tips buyers can use to get approved fast.

1. Estimate Purchase Costs

Buyers need to know what their target purchase price is. This could speed up the pre-approval process according to Realtor.com.

If buyers have been saving for a down payment, they should also tell the lender the amount they plan to put down on the home. Again, this helps speed up the pre-approval process and ensures greater accuracy.

2. Check The Credit

Lenders will check a buyer’s credit score before offering mortgage pre-approval. Checking their own credit first and making improvements if needed could help buyers speed up the approval process.

Buyers who have credit problems may want to reach out to their lender first to see what they can do to improve their credit situation. Lenders know what strong credit looks like and may help buyers make changes that improve the credit score quickly.

Knowing credit ratings before asking for mortgage pre-approval also helps buyers know what to expect from their mortgage offer. The better the credit, the better the terms on the mortgage the bank offers.

3. Get The Paperwork Ready

If the lender has to ask for a piece of paperwork after starting the approval process, a buyer will face delays. Organizing all paperwork and delivering it with the pre-approval application should help.

Start with proof of income that will be used to qualify for the mortgage including 30 days of pay stubs and the previous two years of tax returns with W-2s or 1099s.

Buyers should then gather two months of savings and checking account documents.

Finally, anything connected to retirement, assets, or 401(k) funds needs to be included.

If the buyer has any funds deposited that were from regular paychecks or do not show in the employment and payment records, they may need to have a written explanation.

4. Present Everything Clearly To The Lender

Buyers who bring everything they need to the lender in an organized fashion should get their pre-approval letters quickly. Sometimes lenders can deliver the letter the same day that they receive the information.

That said, buyers with complications, like unusual employment structures or credit problems, may face delays. Most lenders are able to deliver an answer within a few days, even with complex applications.

Mortgage pre-approval is a critical tool in the negotiation tool box for home buyers. Doing a little homework and preparation first can help buyers get approval fast, even in a competitive market. With approval, the chances of a successful offer increase significantly.

A pre-approval in hand will make home buying a much easier experience. Your trusted real estate professional can now help you find just the right home in the right price range for you.

What You Need To Know About Short Sales

What You Need To Know About Short SalesOn the surface, a short sale seems like the perfect deal. However, before you take the plunge, you need to understand how this type of home purchase works.

What Is a Short Sale?

A short sale is a home sale in which the homeowner is selling the home for less than he or she currently owes on the mortgage. In most cases, this means that the buyer is paying less for the home than it’s worth, which leads to instant equity.

Short sales allow homeowners to get out from under mortgages without damaging their credit as much as a foreclosure. Lenders often agree to short sales because the foreclosure process is lengthy and expensive, so short sales can be more beneficial for both parties in the long run.

Advantages

When you buy a short sale, you can often get a nicer home for a lower price. In most cases, you will still be able to use financing to purchase a short sale.

A homeowner attempting a short sale also tends to be highly motivated, which means they will be willing to negotiate on almost any aspect of the sale.

Disadvantages

Although purchasing a short sale can be lucrative, the process isn’t easy. Short sales can take as long as nine months to complete, which is much longer than the time required for the typical home purchase.

Because the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than you will be paying, the bank must agree to the price. This means that even if the homeowner is willing to accept your offer, the bank can still reject it.

If the home secures more than one mortgage, all of the lenders must agree to the sale before it can close. This can lengthen the process even more.

Even though the bank will hold up the process, they will want you to be flexible. Banks are less likely to approve offers from buyers with multiple contingencies, such as a house that needs to sell before closing.

Should You Purchase a Short Sale?

The decision to make an offer on a short sale home is personal. Although there are many obstacles and potential disadvantages, you may be able to save money and build equity quickly if you are able to complete a short sale successfully.

Keep in mind that most banks considering a short sale will want to see a well-qualified borrower who offers flexible closing terms, so it’s best to contact your mortgage professional for a pre-approval before you make an offer on the home.

Your trusted real estate professional is a qualified partner to help you with a short sale home purchase.

Long-Distance House Hunting Tips

Long-Distance House Hunting Tips

Hunting for a house is stressful enough even if you are moving to another part of town. However, when you are searching for a house from afar, it can make the task of finding the right home for your needs seem almost impossible. 

Fortunately, in today’s high-tech world, you have an array of tools available right at your fingertips that can make it easy to find the perfect house for your needs. So, even if you are looking for a home thousands of miles away, you can do so quickly and with minimal fuss.

Partner With The Right Real Estate Agent 

The first thing that you should do when looking for a house in an area that you are unfamiliar with is to find a local agent. Find someone who has the expertise of the local market and buying process. The information that you garner from choosing a local agent can be invaluable. They know the market intimately.

Additionally, a local agent knows the community as they likely live there as well. They know which schools and neighborhoods are best. They can get to know what you are looking for in an area and help you find the right community for your particular needs. They might also have information on local gems that are not yet showing up on online listings.  

Do Your Research 

After you find a home or two that you are interested in, thoroughly research the area. Search for information about local schools, churches, shopping centers and more. You want to make sure that the neighborhood will meet your needs. Research crime rates in the area.

Also, determine how long your commute from work to home will be each day. Even if you don’t have children, research local school rankings. The rating and quality of local schools is paramount when it comes to the resale value of your home.

Visit In Person 

There is just no amount of research that can substitute for an in-person visit to a potential home. If you are planning to hunt for a house from a distance, be prepared for the travel. Make sure that you have the money and time to visit. It is best to prepare for longer house-hunting trips so that you can take your time when walking through each showing.

Also, make it a point to pay a visit to local restaurants, parks, and businesses to get a feel for the local community. 

Your trusted real estate agent will be your best asset when searching for properties at a distance. Be sure to provide your must-have list and start searching for your new home today.

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 31st, 2018

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates 07-31-18Last week’s economic readings included reports on sales of new and pre-owned homes, mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims.

New Home Sales Slide; Pre-owned Home Sales Meet Expectations

Commerce Department reported lower sales of new homes in June. Sales were expected to reach 666,000 sales on a seasonally adjusted annual basis, but the actual reading slipped by 5.30 percent to a pace of 631,000 new home sales. Analysts cited higher building costs, home prices and mortgage rates sidelined some buyers.

Concerns over inadequate inventories of available homes also impacted sales of newly-built homes. New homes sold at a rate 6.90 percent higher year-over-year, but analysts cautioned that home price appreciation and demand may be at or near their peak.

The National Association of Realtors® reported an annual pace of 5.38 million sales of previously-owned homes for June, which matched analysts’ expectations. May’s reading was 5.41 million sales of pre-owned homes.

Analysts caution that Commerce Department readings are subject to adjustment due to the relatively small number of home sales used to represent all sales of pre-owned homes.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates last week with incremental increases in average mortgage rates. Rates for 30-year fixed rate mortgages were two basis points higher at 4.54 percent; rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.02 percent and were two basis points higher.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages were one basis point higher and averaged 3.87 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 15-year fixed rate and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 217,000 claims filed; this reading fell short of the expected reading of 219,000 new claims but was higher than the 208,000 new claims reported for the prior week.

Whats Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic releases include readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and readings on pending home sales and construction spending. Labor reports including public and private sector jobs growth and the national unemployment rate will also be released.

Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be published.

 

How To Green Up Your Home To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

How To Green Up Your Home To Reduce Your Carbon FootprintIf you are a home owner trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s time to make some changes to your property. The more you can do to reduce energy costs, increase efficiency and reduce waste, the less impact you and your home will have on the earth.

From small changes, such as using energy efficient light bulbs, to big changes such as adding solar panels to your home, you can make your home a more Earth-friendly space.

Install Energy Efficient Appliances

Appliances that are labeled energy efficient are going to help you reduce your carbon footprint. When you need a new appliance, look for ones that are energy efficient.

When doing things like washing dishes, flushing the toilet or washing clothes, look for the settings that use less water and energy. Take the time to understand your dishwasher or washing machine to see how you can reduce energy and water waste.

Use Energy Saving Light Bulbs

One of the easiest ways to make your home a little more Earth-friendly is to replace old light bulbs with energy saving ones like LED lights. In many areas you can have an energy audit done on your home and get ideas on ways to save even more on energy related costs. Pay attention to turning off your lights when not in use.

Saving Energy Saves Money And The Environment

When you reduce your use of energy to heat, cool or run your home, you are going to save money on utility bills. Try having your home a few degrees cooler in the winter to see if it is still comfortable. Use fans instead of air conditioning whenever possible in the hot weather. Hang out clothing to dry instead of using a clothes dryer. Save money on bills to run your home and protect the earth at the same time.

Collect Rainwater For Your Garden

If you have a garden, use rain barrels to collect rainwater to be used to water your flowers and vegetables. You won’t have to turn on the hose, and you will save a little bit of money on water fees. Rainwater is healthy for your plants, and can be used for a variety of things when you collect it properly.

Check Into Solar Energy

Check with a solar panel company and see if you can have solar panels installed. This may save you money on electrical bills and may allow you to sell electricity back to the grid if you produce enough. Saving energy and water is possible in your home, you just have to look for ways to do it.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly property, contact your trusted real estate professional today!

Home Office Ideas For Small Spaces

Home Office Ideas For Small SpacesDo you think that you don’t have the space for a home office? Maybe you are under the impression that you need an extra bedroom or spare room for a workspace.

An entire room is not necessary for an office. All that it takes is a little bit of creativity to carve out an office space in any home. Here are some home office ideas for smaller areas.

Here are some smart home office ideas that prove you don’t need to have a lot of space to have a home office.

Office Nook  

If you have a small nook located near a window, close off the space with a curtain. This move will allow you to separate the home office area from the rest of the room. Use a subtle pattern on the curtain so that it blends in with the rest of the room. When not in use, you can just close the curtain.

For small spaces, simplicity is the key. So, add just the essentials to your little office nook. A small desk with some drawers for office supplies should suffice just fine.

Secret Under-The-Stairs Office

The space underneath a flight of stairs is valuable real estate that often goes unused. This area can be the ideal spot for a small home office. Just add a floating shelf and a cork board above the desk. A built-in cabinet can be used to add useful storage space.

Spare Closet Home Office

Do you have an extra closet or pantry that you are not using? If so, then you can make that space work for you. There are just a few things that you’ll need to do to turn any closet into an office space. First, take the doors off. This step will add more room. Next, paint the interior of the closet a light color to add brightness to the space. Add some storage shelves and a built-in desk, and you have with the perfect workspace.

Corner Office

Got a vacant corner in your home? Turn that space into a mini office. If you have a corner with a view, that is even better. You can purchase a corner desk pretty reasonably. Add a chair, and a few office accessories and you are good to go. To the make the most of the space, consider adding floating shelves to each side of the corner.

Implement these simple ideas to maximize your space and have an in-home office that you love!

If you have your heart set on a designated office space and you are in the market for a new home, make sure to tell your trusted real estate professional to add it to your must-have list.

 

 

4 Tips For Downsizing To A Smaller Home

4 Tips For Downsizing To A Smaller Home

You can make the most of a small home with smart design strategies and careful planning.

Maybe your youngest has finally gone away to college, and you have much more space than you really need. Or perhaps you want to minimize your lifestyle and shrink your carbon footprint.

Whatever your reason for downsizing, you can rest assured that moving into a smaller home will not cramp your style. Making a more modest space work doesn’t have to be difficult. These tips can help you make the transition with ease.

Identify Your Needs

Before you start organizing things for the move, identify your needs. Think about your lifestyle and what things you will need to support your lifestyle. Be aware of what resources you will absolutely need moving forward.

If you have a lot of pictures and other sentimental items, consider ways to preserve these things for your children or grandkids. Maybe you can scan and upload old photographs to a shared online family photo album.

Get Rid Of Rarely Used Items

It can be challenging to get rid of things — even if you don’t use them often. However, change is good. Downsizing your belongings can also simplify your life. If you have items that still have a lot of life left in them, you might try giving them to family members, charities or friends. Finding a good home for your things can make it easier to part with them. You could also try to sell items that are valuable.

Choose Smart Storage Solutions

Having less square footage doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of everything you own. You just have to be smart about how you organize your space. There are many storage solutions that can help you make the most of a small area. Maybe mount your television to the wall to enhance your floor space. Use storage ottomans for combination seating and storage. Built-in cabinets are also great storage solutions for tiny rooms.

Take Measurements

Before you move furniture and other larger items, measure the space to make sure that they will fit. Also, measure how much cabinet and closet space you will have available for use. You can use these measurements as a guide before moving anything to your new home. This simple step will save you the hassle of having to later get rid of items that you have already moved over.

Contact your trusted real estate professional if you are thinking about selling your home or buying a home. 

Should You Buy A Fixer Upper?

Should You Buy A Fixer UpperPopular TV shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers have brought the charms of owning a fixer upper to light. A fixer-upper can be a great option if you are prepared for the experience of owning a house that needs work and time.

A house that needs work can be a great investment if you are ready to invest the time and money into it. On the other hand, buying a fixer upper might be a problem if you are not aware of what you are getting into.

Not sure if owning a fixer upper is worth it? Here are some considerations to think about.

Start With This Easy Equation

Start with the likely market value of the house after renovations will be made. Then, sum up the cost to renovate the home. Then, add another 25 percent to the renovation costs for unforeseen problems that will no doubt come up during the renovation process.

Next, subtract the renovation costs from the probable market value of the house after the renovations are made. Use similar real estate prices in the area to get your estimate.

What number is left? This number what you should offer.

So, if the comparable estimates are $100,000 and the house needs $25,000 in work, then you should offer no more than $75,000 to break even. Most professionals recommend deducting 10 percent from the asking price just to make the investment of time worthwhile.

Determine How You Will Pay

If you buy a fixer-upper, you’re going to need some way to fund the renovations. It can be hard coming up with the funds for repairs and upgrades after paying closing costs. Some options for funding renovations include a renovation loan, like Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Loan. This loan is rolled right into your mortgage, which makes things easier.

Another popular option is an FHA 203(k) loan. This loan is a little easier to qualify for than the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan and it only requires 3.5% down.

Decide If You Want To Invest The Time

Buying a fixer-upper is an investment. You will have to invest your time in making a lot of decisions. You’ll need to decide on things like building materials and aesthetics.

Do you have a design or architectural background? Do you enjoy remodeling projects? These are questions that you’ll really want to think about before buying a fixer upper.

Your trusted real estate professional will be your best resource to help you find the right fixer upper and negotiate your best offer price.