Making the Offer: 4 Ways to Craft an Offer That Will Catch the Seller’s Attention

Making the Offer: 4 Ways to Craft an Offer That Will Catch the Seller's AttentionIt can take a time and effort to find the perfect home to purchase. After you have found that home, you need to convince the seller that your offer is the one they want to choose. There may be multiple offers made at the same time, and you may be in a situation where you are competing for the home.

Even if your offer is the only one the seller receives, there is no requirement that they must accept the offer you make. Crafting an effective offer that will catch the seller’s attention is important, and you may be able to accomplish this by following a few tips.

Offer Close To The Asking Price

One of the first things most sellers will look at when they receive an offer is the price you are offering to pay. You may feel as though the seller is asking too much for the home, and your agent may advise you to offer a lower price. On the other hand, there may be multiple offers, and you may feel as though you need to offer a price higher than what is being requested. With your real estate agent’s advice in mind, consider that a seller will be more inclined to accept an offer if it is close to what they are asking. If your offer is too low, they may decline it without looking at the other merits to your offer.

Request A Quick Closing

When you prepare your offer, one of the factors that you will have control over is the requested closing date. Sellers generally want to close quickly, but this is not always the case. Each market is unique, but a general rule of thumb is to offer a closing date that is 21 to 28 days away, contingent on mortgage approval. You may work with your real estate agent and mortgage company to determine when a reasonable closing date is. However, offering a quick closing generally shows that you are a motivated buyer.

Choose A Shorter Option Period

A sales contract has an option period, which allows the buyer to back out of the deal for any reason. This may be a time when you get your third party reports, such as the property inspection, completed. A shorter option period may be preferred by sellers. This is because the buyer is generally locked into the contract contingent on mortgage approval after the option period has expired.

Offer A Higher Non-Refundable Good Faith Amount

When you make an offer, you will also give the seller a good faith or earnest money deposit. The amount of the deposit will be disclosed in the contract, and you will typically hand it off after the offer has been accepted. This is the amount of money that you stand to lose if you do not follow through on the terms of the contract. A higher good faith or earnest money amount shows that you are serious about buying the home.

There are many factors that a seller is thinking about when reviewing an offer. While the entire offer will be reviewed fully, the fact is that these factors are generally given significant weight in most seller decisions. You can work with your real estate agent to structure the best offer possible.

Home Security in 2015: Here’s How New Technology Can Keep You Even Safer

Home Security in 2015: Here's How New Technology Can Keep You Even SaferSecuring your home is a top priority, and you will need to make periodic updates and upgrades to your efforts from time to time. Today’s criminals are highly intelligent, and they often use superior techniques to break into homes criminals from past years and decades did not use.

As homeowners’ efforts to secure their homes become more sophisticated, the fact is that criminals are also becoming more sophisticated. There are several new products on the market that you may consider installing and implementing in your home to improve security going forward.

Wireless Video Cameras

Many of the more advanced home security systems today have some type of video surveillance system in place. Generally, this is a closed circuit system that records activities or that is motion activated so that the area is only recorded when movement is detected.

More advanced options, however, are wireless by design, and you may be able to both listen to and watch your home from your smartphone or wireless device. Keep in mind that not all activities will take place in the small perimeter that is monitored by your camera, so the ability to listen to the home in real-time is a benefit.

Keyless Entry Locks With Alarm Sounds

Many homeowners have already invested in keyless entry locks. These are often viewed as a convenience feature for homeowners because they do not have to worry about misplacing their keys or giving a key to their maid service or others who need to enter the home. The key code can easily be changed as needed to add security to the home. However, a new spin on the keyless entry lock is an audible alarm sound. With this product, the lock will emit a loud alarm signal that can alert you and others passing nearby that someone is trying to break into your home.

Smart Door Locks

You can also choose to invest in smart door locks. These are locks that you can monitor and even control through an app on your smartphone or mobile device. You do not have to give out a code to the maid service because you can simply unlock the door for the cleaners when they arrive at your home. You may have forgotten to lock your door that morning before you left for work, and you can use the app to lock the door remotely. You can also receive a notification each time the door is opened or unlocked.

Each of these innovative features can enhance the security of your home in different ways. When you want to gain better control over your home security, you may consider investing in some of these state-of-the-art products for your home in the near future.

What Factors Determine Your Home’s Resale Value? Let’s Take a Look

What Factors Determine Your Home's Resale Value? Let's Take a LookThere are several factors that will help you determine the value of your home when you want to sell it. Location, condition, layout, upgrades, and events relating to your home are all important when selling your home.

It’s All About Location

Anyone in real estate will tell you location, location, location is the first thing to consider when buying real estate. If your home is on a busy street, it’s going to be harder to sell unless someone is looking for that exact location.

If a buyer is looking to have a business inside the home, then having more exposure could be important. However, for a family, the most sought after location is in a cul-de-sac or dead-end street where traffic is kept to a minimum.

Your Home’s Condition Is Important

The home you are selling must be in excellent condition to ensure you get top dollar. Buyers are primarily looking for a home that is in move-in condition. If it needs painting, new flooring, a new roof, or new plumbing, it isn’t as desirable as a home that doesn’t need any work. Newer homes typically are in better condition than older homes, unless they have been well-maintained.

Your Home’s Layout

Is your floorplan functional? Most buyers prefer homes with open floorplans and ample kitchens, living areas, and bathrooms. Closets are also important as everyone needs storage space. The number of bedrooms a home has can also be important. Two bedrooms aren’t as popular or functional as three or four bedrooms. It’s also nice to have a flex room that can be a study, exercise room, or a formal dining room if need be. If a smaller home is well-designed, it can be easier to resale than a larger home.

Upgrades And Renovations

If you have an older home, but have upgraded the kitchen and bathrooms, then your home will be easier to sell. Updated appliances can also be a big plus when selling a home.

Natural Disasters And Other Events

If your home has been flooded, been through a fire, or damaged from wind or a storm, then that may cause the value to be less. If a buyer happens to talk to a neighbor who tells them a negative story, that may spook a buyer and cause them to look elsewhere.

Before putting your home on the market, you should call your real estate agent to help you with pricing. They can also suggest making repairs or changes to your home to help it sell.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 2, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week March 2 2015Last week provided several housing-related reports including New Home Sales, Pending Home Sales and Existing Home Sales reports. Case-Shiller and FHFA also released data on home prices. The details:

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes Hit Nine-Month Low

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), Sales of pre-owned homes dropped to a seasonally-adjusted annual reading 4.82 million sales in January as compared to an estimated reading of 4.95 million sales and December’s reading of 5.07 million existing homes sold. This was a month-to-month decline of 4.90 percent, and represented the lowest reading for existing home sales in nine months.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, said that a short supply of available homes coupled with rising prices contributed to the drop in sales. While mortgage rates remain near historical lows, higher home prices and short supply are negatively impacting affordability; this puts home buyers who rely on mortgages in competition with cash buyers.

More encouraging news arrived with the Commerce Department’s new home sales report; new home sales reached 481,000 sales on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis in January. Analysts had expected new home sales of 467,000 new homes based on December’s reading of 482,000 new homes sold in December.

Pending Home Sales Highest Since August 2013

The National Association of Realtors® reported that pending home sales rose by 1.70 percent in January as compared to December’s reading of -3.70 percent. Pending sales were up 8.40 percent year-over-year. Job growth, a little more leniency in mortgage credit standards and slower inflation were seen as factors that contributed to higher pending sales. Pending sales represent under sales contracts that have not closed.

Case-Shiller, FHFA Post Home Price Data

The Case Shiller 20-City Composite reported that home prices rose by 0.10 percent month-to-month and 4.50 percent year-over-year according to its index report for December. San Francisco, California had the highest year-over-year price gain at 9.30 percent, while Chicago, Illinois had the lowest year-over-year home price appreciation rate at 1.30 percent as of December.

FHFA reported that home prices for properties connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans rose by 5.40 percent on a year-over-year basis as compared to November’ year-over-year reading of a 5.20 percent increase in home prices.

Mortgage Rates Rise

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose across the board last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by four basis points to 3.80 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by two basis points to 3.07 percent and the rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was also two basis points higher at 2.99 percent. Discount points for all loan types were unchanged at 0.60 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead?

This week’s scheduled economic news includes consumer spending, construction spending and the Labor Department’s non-farm payroll and national unemployment reports. Weekly jobless claims and Freddie Mac’s PMMS report on mortgage rates will be released as usual on Thursday.

Saving Up for Your First Home? Our Guide to Finding Ways to Save Your Down Payment Faster

Saving Up for Your First Home? Our Guide to Finding Ways to Save Your Down Payment FasterIf your goal is to purchase a home, you may find that it’s challenging to save up enough money for your down payment. While this is something that many first time home buyers struggle with, it is by no means insurmountable. By making a few simple changes you will be able to accumulate the funds you need for your down payment.

Keep Track Of Your Spending

One of the reasons why it can be difficult to save money is that you aren’t even sure of where your money is going. While you may be aware of major expenses such as rent, car payments and utilities, it’s easy to lose track of many of the smaller bills and impulse purchases. If you aren’t keeping a budget, you should begin as soon as possible. Software programs and apps such as Mint.com can make this simple.

Consider If You Have Anything To Sell

You may be able to raise some quick cash by selling some personal belongings. Don’t part with something that will cause you regrets, such as a precious family heirloom. However, if you’re like many people, you probably have lots of items you no longer need. In addition to holding a garage sale, you could sell items such as jewelry, electronics, art or almost anything on eBay.

Refinance Credit Cards

Refinancing credit cards or any type of debt can help you save money on monthly bills. Balance transfers can often give you a more advantageous rate with credit cards. If you have a car loan, you may be able to find better terms with a different lender.

Find Another Source Of Income

In addition to finding ways to cut back on your spending, taking in some extra money every week can make it much easier to save up for that down payment. Perhaps you or your spouse could find time for a part time job. You might also consider starting a part time business, such as an online store that can be managed from home.

If you are creative about it, you can probably find many ways to save up for your down payment. You should also do plenty of shopping around when it comes to finding the best deal on a mortgage for your first home.

FHFA House Price Index Rises for 14th Consecutive Quarter

FHFA House Price Index Rises for 14th Consecutive QuarterAccording to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), U.S. home prices rose by 1.40 percent for the fourth quarter of 2014 and were up by 0.80 percent month-to-month from November. The seasonally adjusted FHFA House Price Index measures purchase transactions for homes connected with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

FHFA also reported that home prices rose 4.9 percent year-over –year from the fourth quarter of 2013 to the fourth quarter of 2014. FHFA Chief Economist Andrew Leventis described the report for the last quarter of 2014 as “relatively strong” and also cited low inventories of available homes and improving labor markets as contributing to home price growth.

FHFA House Price Index Identifies Significant Trends

FHFA’s expanded house price data, which adds data from county records and the Federal Housing Administration, to the FHFA House Price Index, indicated that home prices grew by 1.30 percent in the fourth quarter; year-over-year home prices grew by 6.0 percent according to FHFA’s expanded house price data report.

According to purchase-only indexes for the 100 most populated metro areas, the San Francisco-Redwood City-south San Francisco, California metro area posted the highest rate of year-over-year home price gains at six percent for the fourth quarter of 2015. The lowest reading was for the El Paso, Texas, which posted a loss of 6.60 percent in the fourth quarter.

The mountain division of the nine U.S. Census divisions posted the highest annual home price growth at 5.50 percent and 1.40 percent in the fourth quarter. House price appreciation was weakest in the New England Division, where home prices fell by0.03 percent.

FHFA also reported that its “distress free” home price indexes which the agency publishes for 12 metro areas have shown less price appreciation than the FHFA purchase only Home Price Index. Distress-free means that foreclosed homes and short sales were not included in these index readings.

FHFA has expanded its home price reports with a set of reports based on three-digit zip codes. Sorting house price data by the first three digits of a zip code provides more specific data for regional home price trends; mortgage and real estate pros can find house price data for specific neighborhoods and communities. FHFA described its three-digit zip code reports as “experimental” at present.

 

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It’s Time to Upgrade

Have You Outgrown Your Current Home? Here Are Five Easy Ways to Tell if It's Time to Upgrade Your home is your castle, your own little piece of the American dream. But lately, your little corner of the world has been feeling cramped and you find yourself eyeing those larger homes. Is it time to pull up stakes and move on from your starter home?

Growing Family

If you’ve added to your family in recent years, you may have more bodies than bedrooms. A two-bedroom home may have been a great idea when it was just you and your spouse, but with two kids, you’re starting to have turf wars over the play area.

Overflowing With Stuff

From an overflowing toy chest to closets packed so tightly with shoes and coats you risk an avalanche every time you open the door, your home just doesn’t have the space to keep all your things. You may have even had to move some things off-site, spending money to rent storage space to keep that antique dresser your grandmother left you or the set of state spoons you carefully collected during your college years.

No Rest For The Weary

You’d love to spend an afternoon soaking in the tub, but before the warmth of the water can take you away, there’s a banging on the door of the only bathroom in the house and a chorus of “hurry up” invading your quiet time. And the man cave you dreamed of? Those visions of a big screen television were shattered by the realization you needed somewhere for the kids to sleep.

No Room For Extras

When you first moved in, the two-car garage doubled as your woodworking shop. Now, the equipment has been sent to storage to make room for the family’s second car. You’d love to take up organic gardening, but your tiny yard barely has room for a grill and a lawn chair. You’d love to host your friends visiting from out of state, but there is hardly room for their luggage, much less them.

Changes In Career

You may have opted for a starter home when you first entered the market because you had a smaller income. Now, thanks to changes in careers or promotions at work, you can afford a home with greater square footage and room for your growing family that will provide the space you need for many years of happy memories.

Home prices across the country are starting to rise. Contact your local real estate agent today and take advantage of the opportunity to give your family the most space at the best price now.

Case-Shiller: Rising Home Prices Boost Inflation

Case Shiller Rising Home Prices Boost Inflation

December home prices rose by 0.10 percent according to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index. The composite report tracks home prices in 20 U.S. cities. December’s results boosted home prices by 4.50 percent year-over-year, which is approximately double the inflation rate for 2014. Analysts note that the overall reading was less significant than individual readings for the 20 cities included in the report.

Regional Home Prices Suggest Disparity in Housing Recovery

The top three month-to-month home price increases for cities surveyed were led by Miami, Florida with an increase of 0.70 percent, Home prices rose by 0.50 percent in Denver, Colorado, and by 0.50 percent in San Francisco, California.

Chicago, Illinois posted a month-to-month loss of -0.90 percent; Cleveland, Ohio followed with a loss of -0.50 percent, and Las Vegas, Nevada and Minneapolis, Minnesota were tied with monthly losses of -0.30 percent for home prices.

Winter weather conditions and the holidays can dampen demand for homes; it’s worthwhile to note that three of the cities posting the largest month-to-month losses are located in cold winter climates.

Month-to-month readings for home prices are typically more volatile; the corresponding year-over-year readings provide a more accurate reading of real estate trends in specific cities. Nine cities posted month-to-month gains for home prices, while six cities posted lower home prices from November to December.

San Francisco Leads Year-over-Year Home Price Growth

San Francisco, California led year-over-year home price growth with a reading of 9.30 percent. Home prices grew by 8.40 percent in Miami, Florida. Denver, Colorado home prices grew by 8.10 percent year-over-year in December.

The three cities showing the least amount of home price growth year-over-year were Chicago, Illinois with a reading of 1.30 percent, Cleveland, Ohio and Washington, D.C. were tied with year-over-year readings of 1.30 percent growth in home prices year-over-year.

Home prices are growing more slowly in the North and Midwest regions, while home prices continue to grow fastest in the Southeast and Western regions.

Home prices in the cities surveyed have increased by 29 percent since the March 2012 low, but remain 16 percent below their July 2006 peak. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index measures home prices using a three-month rolling average, while other home price reports base their readings on monthly sales. Case-Shiller’s year-over-year reading of 4.50 percent for December of 2015 closely approached CoreLogic’s reading of 5.00 percent home price growth year-over-year.

While increasing home prices are good news for homeowners, higher home prices represent an obstacle for moderate income and first time home buyers, who are also impacted by strict mortgage credit standards. As the peak home buying season approaches, increased demand for homes could drive home prices higher.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – February 23, 2015

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Feburary 23 2015

Last week’s housing related reports included the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index for February, The Commerce Department’s report on Housing Starts for January and Freddie Mac’s weekly report on average mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve released the minutes of January’s FOMC meeting, which indicated that FOMC members are in no hurry to raise the target federal funds rate. The details:

Home Builder Confidence, Housing Starts Impacted by Winter Weather

The NAHB Housing Market Index for February fell from January’s reading of 57 to 55. Analysts expected a reading of 59. This was the lowest reading since October, but February’s reading remains above the benchmark of 50. Readings exceeding 50 indicate that more home builders are confident about housing market conditions than not.

According to the NAHB, harsh weather contributed to lower builder confidence in February. NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said that low mortgage rates, increasing affordability and improving job markets are helping home buyers.

The NAHB Housing Market Index is calculated based on three components. Builder confidence dropped by one point to a reading of 61 for current housing market conditions. Not surprisingly, the winter weather caused buyer foot traffic to drop five points to a reading of 39. A gauge of housing market conditions in the next six months was unchanged.

Regional readings showed declines in three of four regions: The Northeast saw a one-point drop to 46; the Midwest and South dropped by two points to readings of 54 and 57. The Western region gained two points for a reading of 68.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported that January’s Housing Starts dropped from 1.09 million in December to 1.07 million in January; the reading for January matched analysts’ expectations.

Weekly jobless claims provided some good news; they dropped from the prior week’s reading of 304,000 new claims to 283,000 new claims. The expected reading was 290,000 new jobless claims.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Points Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates rose last week. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose by seven basis points to 3.76 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage increased by six basis points to 3.05 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.97 percent. Discount points were unchanged at 0.6 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s scheduled economic news includes several reports related to housing. New and existing home sales reports will be released along with the Case-Shiller Composite Housing Market reports. FHFA will release its House Price Index Report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to testify before Congress. Reports on Consumer Sentiment and Consumer Confidence are also scheduled along with weekly reports on jobless claims and mortgage rates.

Moving In: Our Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Will Help You Maximize Your Space

Moving In: Our Ultimate Guide to Unpacking Will Help You Maximize Your Space Many buyers anticipate the day they drive to their new home. Then it happens: the movers pull up. It’s time to move everything in. This can be a daunting task, but following a few steps will break down the work and careful planning will maximize space in the years ahead.

Clear Your Space

Go through each room to make sure the seller removed all belongings. Contact the real estate agent if the seller did not do this. Check the condition of all surfaces to determine how much preparation may be required.

Place Boxes In Correct Rooms

Boxes should be marked by room and either carry a label detailing what’s inside or be matched to a list showing what’s inside. Put each box in the correct room.

Place Boxes In Order Of Need

In each room, place boxes that will not be immediately needed against the far wall. Place boxes needed sooner in front of or on top of those boxes.

Eliminate Excess Items

If this wasn’t done while packing, buyers should stop any unwanted belongings from being taken into the house.

Create A Strategy

Unpacking does not have to be done in one day. Create a strategy for unpacking in three steps: immediate, secondary, and long-term needs.

Immediate Unpacking

Unpack what you need in the next couple of days. This will include bedding, toiletries, basic cooking equipment, and a few changes of clothing.

Secondary Unpacking

In the first week, unpack secondary items. Each day, unpack these items for one or two rooms. In the bedroom, for example, unpack your clothing and accessories. In the kitchen, unpack the rest of what you use for everyday cooking and eating. Do the same for other rooms.

Long-term Unpacking

By the end of the first month, decide what you are going to do with items you don’t use every day. Use extra closets, cupboards, basement or storage rooms, outdoor sheds, and the like. Remember where you put things so you can find them later.

Organize as You Go

Put items away in an organized fashion. Don’t just haphazardly unpack and toss things. It’s better to unpack more slowly and take time to put things away thoughtfully.

Call your real estate agent for moving-in tips and lists to track belongings. Take your time with unpacking and you will create a home where you can find things easily, maintain livable spaces, and enjoy a spacious environment.