‘Don’t Sit Around Waiting for a Deal’ and Other Great Advice from Successful Home Sellers

'Don't Sit Around Waiting for a Deal' and Other Great Advice from Successful Home SellersThe real estate market and all the things involved in selling a home can seem complicated, and it can be very hard to know which tips to trust. While there’s plenty of great advice to go around from many knowledgeable sources, here are some of the best tips from home sellers who have made a successful sale.

Research Your Local Agents

When considering an agent that will meet your home-selling needs, it can be tempting to go with someone familiar or recommended through a friend who seems like a safe bet. However, it’s important to do your research and find an agent who has a number of “Sold” homes under their belt. Create a list of agents you’re impressed by and take note of their sales and agent fees, and keep in mind that you may want to lean towards an agent who has expertise in your neighborhood.

Get A Second Opinion On Price

Before you have an agent appraise the value of your home, it’s worthwhile doing some research on your end to determine the approximate value of your property. Once you’ve arrived at a figure, bring in the agents you’ve selected to appraise the value of your property. If one price is significantly higher than the other, it may be a red flag that an agent is trying to win over your business, regardless of whether the sale price is reasonable. In this case, you will want to choose the agent that provides the most appropriate appraisal.

Be House Ready At All Times

Having potential buyers view your home will certainly make the idea of selling it real, so make sure that it is ready for viewing at any time. If a potential buyer cannot view your property or has to work around your schedule constantly to arrange viewings, there’s a pretty good chance that you may lose out on some good home offers. Instead of missing out, provide a set of keys to your real estate agent so they can show people around your home when you’re not around. This should automatically increase the likelihood of an offer on your home.

Heading into the real estate market can be a matter of trepidation if you’re not sure what to do, but by researching your agents and being prepared you’ll increase your chances of success. If you’re almost ready to put your home on the market, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

Thinking About Selling in the Spring? You Should Be Renovating Now. Here’s Why

Thinking About Selling in the Spring? You Should Be Renovating Now. Here's WhyThe cooler months of winter might seem like the perfect time to hibernate into the house, but it’s actually a great time to consider ramping up your home for improvements. If you’re thinking of selling come the spring, here’s why winter is the perfect time to get started on home renovations.

Flexible Scheduling And Availability

Many people are not interested in renovating their home during the winter months, so it can actually be an ideal time of year to make plans with a contractor to do some work. Since many renovations that occur on the outside of the home are likely to take place during spring or summer, it can be easier to schedule renovations for your home’s interior when it’s colder.

Pre-Planning Your Project

Since contractors can have more free time in the winter months, it’s a good time to contact them to discuss, decide and plan exactly what needs to be done in your home. With the workload of many contractors ramping up in the springtime, there’s a good chance their meeting schedule may be congested and the planning and renovation implementation will take much longer.

Get Ahead of Higher Prices

With the holiday season in swing, there are many sales on common home items from appliances to windows and cabinets. Since manufacturers will be trying to get excess stock off the floor before year’s end, it can be a great time to purchase products for instant money savings. With the new stock filling the stores in spring, there will be a higher premium to pay for all of the newly marketed products.

A Good Time For The Market

Spring is one of the most popular times of year to put a home on the market. With so many people considering a home purchase among their yearly plans, the milder season is an ideal time to get out and go house shopping. In order to have your home ready to show for the spring, you’ll need to have the renovations complete so your house will be market ready when the potential buyers are out.

If you’re readying your house for the springtime real estate market, it’s a good idea to get started on renovations now so you can save money on materials and schedule ample time with your contractor. If you happen to be considering your options for spring sale, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA Loan

Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA LoanBuying a home isn’t cheap. But if you’re determined to become a homeowner, the FHA home loan program can help. This loan program, ideal for first-time buyers with low incomes, can help you to build your credit and make home ownership a reality.

So why should you consider an FHA loan? Here are just a few ways you’ll benefit from these government-backed mortgages.

You Can Get Approved With Just 3.5% Down

Traditional mortgage lenders typically require you to pay 20% down on your mortgage, or 5% if you have good credit and agree to pay mortgage insurance premiums. But for a lot of younger people with lots of debt and low incomes, even a 5% down payment is an unrealistic burden. With an FHA loan, you can be approved for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% – which means a $200,000 home can be yours for as little as $7,000 down.

You Can Get A Loan Even With A High Debt-To-Income Ratio

Standard mortgages are difficult to get if you have a high debt-to-income ratio. Typically, lenders will want to see that your mortgage costs will consume no more than 28% of your income, and your total payments toward debts from all sources will be no more than 36% of your income. But with an FHA loan, you can get a mortgage with a 29/41 ratio.

You Can Qualify With A Low Credit Score

If you have a credit score under 700, you’ll pay higher interest rates on typical mortgages – and if it’s below 660, you may not get approved at all. But with an FHA mortgage, you can get approved for a 3.5% down payment with a credit score as low as 580 – or lower, if you agree to a 10% down payment.

FHA Closing Cost Regulations Are Better For Low-Income Buyers

FHA loans have different closing cost regulations than traditional mortgages. With an FHA loan, you can bundle closing costs into the mortgage or even use gift funds for 100% of the closing costs. That means home ownership is more accessible for people with lower incomes.

An FHA Loan Can Help You Find A Good Home

With most mortgages, you’re free to buy any home you wish as long as you stay within a set price range. But with an FHA loan, any home you buy must be habitable, sanitary, and safe – otherwise the FHA won’t approve your loan. That means using an FHA loan will ensure you get a good home.

Buying a home with an FHA loan is a great way to become a homeowner if a traditional mortgage isn’t an option for you. Call your local mortgage professional to learn more.

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best Investment

Understanding How Home Equity Works and Why Buying a Home Can Be Your Best InvestmentWhen delving into the world of real estate and investment property, there are many terms that will come up that require further explanation. Whether you’ve never heard the phrase ‘home equity’ before or you have a little familiarity, here are the ins and out of what it means and how this asset can help your financial outlook.

All About Home Equity

Essentially, home equity refers to your portion of the value of your home, and the amount of this figure is important because it is included among your assets when determining your net worth. If this sounds confusing, think of it this way: if you have completely paid off the cost of your home, the value of your home equity is this total amount. Of course, because most people seek a lender to borrow money from when they purchase a home, their home equity would consist of their down payment and whatever amount they’ve paid down on the mortgage since purchase.

An Example Of Home Equity

To provide further clarification, let’s use the example of a house that has been purchased for $300,000. In the case that a down payment of 20% has been provided at the time of purchase, the equity in the home would be $60,000. Since this amount is the percentage and cost of the house that’s been paid down, this is the amount of the house that is actually owned and this will be figured among an individual’s assets.

How Home Equity Works

As you pay the amount that you owe on your home each month, you are paying off your total debt and thereby increasing your equity. Since this amount of money is considered an asset that belongs to you, it can be used down the road to buy another home or invest in other important things like education or retirement. While paying off the amount owed on a home is a considerable investment, if the value of your home increases, this means that you’ll still owe the same on it but your home equity will have automatically increased.

As an asset that is part of your financial net worth and can be used down the road to fund other investments, home equity is a very useful term to know when it comes to purchasing a home. If you’re on the market for a home and are considering your options, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Feburary 1, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 1 2016Last week’s economic events included S&P Case-Shiller’s home price indexes, reports on new and pending home sales and the Fed’s FOMC statement. The details:

Case-Shiller Reports Fast Paced Home Price Growth

According to S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, U.S. home prices grew at their fastest pace in 16 months in November. Portland, Oregon led the charge with home prices increasing 11.10 percent year-over-year followed by San Francisco, California at 11.0 percent; Denver, Colorado posted a year-over-year gain of 10.90 percent. 14 cities posted home price gains while four cities posted declines in home prices and two cities posted no change on a month-to-month basis.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee, noted that slumping oil prices and a strong dollar were posing challenges to domestic and international homebuyers. In spite of high demand, the supply of available homes continued to drive home prices up in most cities in the S&P Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index.

In related news, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped to a year-over-year reading of 544,000 new home sales as compared to November’s upwardly revised reading of 491,000 new homes sold and expectations of a year-over-year reading of 506,000 new homes sold as of December. The December 2015 reading was 9.90 percent higher than for December 2014.

Analysts cited a shortage of new homes for driving sales; builders are facing obstacles in hiring and finding suitable land for development. Some builders were said to be targeting high-end buyers which leaves a shortage of homes available for first-time and mid-range home buyers.

The National Association of Realtors® reported a minor gain in pending home sales in December. Pending home sales gauge future closings and mortgage activity. December’s pending sales reading was higher by 0.10 percent month-to-month and posted a year-over-year gain of 4.50 percent. December’s gain represented the 16th consecutive monthly gain for pending home sales. Analysts had expected a month-to-month gain of 1 percent, but high demand and a slim supply of affordable homes are leaving would-be buyers on the sidelines.

Fed Holds Off on Raising Rate; Mortgage Rates Lower

The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise its target federal funds rate on Wednesday; Freddie Mac reported lower average mortgage rates on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 3.79 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell 3 basis points to 3.07 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were lower by one basis point at 2.90 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6, 0.5 and 0.5 percent respectively.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes reports on construction spending, ADP payrolls, Non-Farm payrolls and the national unemployment rate.

FOMC Statement: Fed Holds Steady on Rates

FOMC Statement Fed Holds Steady on RatesAccording to statement issued at the conclusion of today’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting, committee members decided against raising the target federal funds rate. Mixed economic conditions, slower economic growth in the 4th quarter and low inflation contributed to the decision against raising rates. The target federal funds rate was raised in December to a range of 0.25 to 1.59 percent after remaining at 0.00 to 0.25 percent for several years. While rising fed rates were expected to cause a hike in mortgage rates, mortgage rates fell after December’s rate hike.

Committee Cites Mixed Data in Decision

While labor conditions and housing markets continue to improve, FOMC members said that further improvement in labor markets and achieving the medium term goal of inflation influenced the committee’s decision not to raise rates. The Federal Reserve has a dual goal of achieving maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. While labor conditions continue to improve, the Committee wants to see further improvement. The inflation rate has stubbornly stayed below 2 percent and lower energy and non-energy import prices caused the inflation rate to fall further in recent weeks. The Fed also downgraded its reading of household spending and business investment growth from “strong” to “moderate.”

FOMC members consider global economic and financial conditions as well as trends and developing news affecting domestic economic and financial developments. Wednesday’s statement emphasized that constant monitoring and analysis of financial and economic readings are significant in monetary policy decisions. Analysts noted that recent economic developments including slowing economic growth in the US and China, along with resulting turbulence in financial markets likely contributed to the Fed’s decision not to raise the federal funds rate.

FOMC Says Policy Decisions to Remain “Accommodative”

Members of the FOMC do not expect marked economic improvement in the short term and said that they expect Fed monetary policy to remain accommodative “for some time.” This suggests that rapid rate hikes are not likely to occur in the near future; the Fed’s commitment to gradual rate increases is expected promote further improvements in labor markets and hold down borrowing rates for consumer credit and mortgages.

The Committee’s vote not to increase rates was unanimous. The next FOMC meeting is set for March 15 and 16. In the meantime, Fed Chair and FOMC Chair Janet Yellen is slated to testify before Congress about the economic outlook on February 10 and 11.

Video: What Is A Counter-Offer?

What Is A Counter-Offer?

The video puts this in more visual terms, but basically, a seller can respond to a buyer’s offer with changes – a “counter” – that improves the terms.

You need to put yourself in their shoes and construct a modified offer that you think they might take that meets more of your needs. Then it’s their turn – accept, reject, or construct yet another counter.

It’s an efficient market process, but beware: clauses and costs matter. Your broker should be closely involved in constructing a counter. Successful bargaining is best done with a win/win approach where each side is meeting their biggest needs and compromising others to reach an agreement.

Remember that outside conditions like interest rates, and supply and demand, will keep evolving so you’ll need to be patient but decisive to craft an counter-offer that works for both sides.

What Is A Counter-Offer?

Mythbusting: is Winter a Bad Time to Buy a Home? No – and Here’s Why

Mythbusting: is Winter a Bad Time to Buy a Home? No - and Here's WhyThe cooler months of winter often seem like the best time to hibernate into your house and wait for spring to appear, but it can actually be a prime opportunity to start looking for a new home. If you’re not interested in waiting until next season, here are a few reasons you may want to get started on your home search a little earlier than expected.

Opportunity For A Lower Price

With prime moving time occurring during the months of fall and spring, there’s a good chance that a home purchase will end up costing you less in winter than it will during other times of the year. Most home sellers are not going to want to keep their house on the market for an extended period of time, so if it happens that their house is still for sale when the winter comes, they’ll likely be willing to consider a lower offer.

More Attention From Your Agent

Since fewer people will be selling and buying in the winter months, it’s quite likely that your real estate agent will have a lot more free time on their hands and will be able to give you more of their attention. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the New Year to arrive, take the opportunity to redefine your needs to your agent so – no matter the season – you’ll have someone who’s truly prepared to tackle the market for you.

The Added Perks Of A Slower Season

Most home sellers will have been advised by their real estate agent that the winter market is a lot slower, so you may be able to get some added benefits along with your purchase that make for a better deal. Whether you can garner a better negotiation, a quicker closing date or provide an offer that includes updated home appliances, there will probably be a few opportunities which will make the cooler winter search worth the effort.

The winter months can be a great time to hibernate, but they can also be ideal for searching for a home if you’re in the market. With the slow selling season, you may be able to take advantage of lower prices and more perks along with your purchase.

If you’re planning on moving a little bit sooner than expected, you may want to contact one of our local real estate professionals to see what opportunities are on the market.

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won’t Hear from Your Friends

First Time Home Buyers: 3 Essential Tips That You Won't Hear from Your FriendsWhen it comes to diving into home ownership for the first time, it can seem like there are so many things you just don’t know. Whether you’re getting advice from your real estate agent, your friends or your family, there are so many things that seem like common sense that they might be lost in the mix of details. Instead of having to squeeze it out of them, here are three tips that are easily forgotten but still essential.

Be Patient And Take Your Time

It’s certainly not the most popular advice, but one of the most important things when deciding to purchase a home is having the time and know-how to make the decision that is right for you. Since you’ll need to consider so many different things when committing to such a significant purchase, from the neighborhood to the local amenities to the future salability of the home, it’s always best to ask the questions so there will be less to regret.

Get More Than One Opinion

It’s entirely possible that you’ve found a home you love and there’s nothing that’s going to get between you and it, but getting someone else’s opinion may provide the criticism you need to take a step back from a home-buying mistake. Instead of going it alone, bring along a friend or family member whose opinion you trust that will be honest with you about the flaws they see. It’s possible that they may notice something you’ve missed that could make or break the entire deal.

Prepare For The Home Inspection

Until you do it, you never really know what you’re going to find out during the home inspection, but doing a little bit of research to determine things you should be looking for can go a long way in saving money down the road. It may seem like you should be able to rely on the inspector to assess things for you, but by asking the right questions you might be able to spot the water tank that’s about to give out or a leak that’s about to get much worse.

There are a lot of little details that go hand in hand with purchasing a home, but often the advice that is the simplest is the easiest to forget. If you’re curious about other aspects of purchasing real estate that go beyond the home inspection, you may want to contact your local real estate agent for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – January 25, 2016

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week January 25 2016Last week’s scheduled economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders, Housing Starts, and Existing Home Sales. Weekly reports on new jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released. 

The National Association of Realtors® reported that sales of previously owned homes rose to 5.46 million sales on an annual seasonally adjusted basis in December. This reading surpassed expectations of 5.21 million sales and November’s reading of 4.76 million sales. November’s low reading was in part affected by new mortgage rules, which delayed some closings into December. Economic factors pushing housing markets include low driven by falling fuel costs easing consumers’ budgets could provide confidence to move up to a larger home and for first time buyers to enter the market.

Existing Home Sales Up 7.6 Percent in December

There was a 3.9 month supply of pre-owned homes on the market in December; this was the lowest inventory since January 2005. High demand for homes and a slim supply of available homes continued to tighten housing markets. Growing demand for homes coupled with a shortage of homes for sale are driving up prices; the national average price of a pre-owned home rose 7.60 percent in December to $224,100. Rapidly rising home prices present an obstacle to first time buyers and as home prices rise, more buyers will face affordability concerns.

Housing Starts dipped in December to 1.15 million as compared to expectations of 1.23 million and November’s reading of 1.18 million housing starts annually. Builders constructed homes in 2015 at the highest rate since the recession. While December’s reading fell short of expectations, housing starts increased nearly 11 percent year-over-year. While builders cite obstacles such as shortages of land and labor, a growing pace of housing starts is seen as a partial solution to the shortage of available homes.

Building permits issued increased 12 percent in 2015; permits issued gauge future building activity and supply of available homes.

Mortgage Rates Fall for Third Consecutive Week

Average mortgage rates fell last week according to Freddie Mac. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped 11 basis points to 3.81 percent; the rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by nine basis points to an average of 3.10 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped 10 basis points to 2.91 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60, 0.50 and 0.40 percent respectively. Sean Becketti, chief economist for Freddie Mac, cited turbulence in the financial markets as a factor contributing to lower mortgage rates.

New jobless claims rose to a seven week high of 293,000 new claims as compared to expectations of 279,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 283,000 new claims. The four-week rolling average of new claims jumped by 6.500 new claims to an average of 285,000 claims. Lingering layoffs of temporary holiday workers were cited as contributing to higher first-time claims.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled events include data on new and pending home sales, the Case-Shiller home price indexes. The Fed will release its latest FOMC statement. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released as usual. Reports on consumer confidence and sentiment will also be released.