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The Role Access Plays in Getting Your House SOLD!

So you’ve decided to sell your house and you want that house sold, easily!  You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you with the entire process and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to potential buyers.

house sold

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is Access, followed by Condition, Financing and Price. There are many levels of access that you could provide to your agent to be able to show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you could give a buyer with a brief description:

  1. Lockbox On the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  2. Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showing with just a phone call’s notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48 Hour Notice) – Many out-of-town/state buyers and relocation buyers visit an area they would like to move to and only have the weekend to view homes. They may not be able to plan that far in advance, or may be unable to wait the 48 hours to be shown the house.
  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.



 

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Changes To Make In Your New Home Now

You are finally in your new home now. What’s the first thing you should do?

The moving frenzy never ends: Even after you close, the to-do lists drag on and on—endless pages of bullet points that keep you up at night when all you want is to begin your new life. Some of them are fun, like redecorating and buying new furniture.

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Others, not so much.

“When you move into a new house, you’re more concerned with decorating and taking stuff out you don’t like,” says Kevin Minto, president of Signet Home Inspections in Grass Valley, CA. “But let’s not forget about the less romantic things that are mundane—but more important in the long run.”

Once you’ve got the keys, feel free to give yourself a break. You deserve it! But don’t rest on your laurels too long—and make sure to do these eight things right away.

1. Change the locks on your new home now!

Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them rekeyed. It’s not that you don’t trust the sellers (who are, we’re sure, perfectly respectable and upstanding citizens). It’s that you shouldn’t trust everyone who’s had contact with those keys over the years, any of whom could have copied the keys for some unsavory purpose.

home-security

2. Change the alarm batteries

Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seem like a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move (and aren’t they all), but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it now, when the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house—without lugging a ladder around furniture.

3. Review your home inspector’s report

Can’t find your inspector’s report? Minto says reports are often filed with the escrow papers—but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues in their report, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything as particularly pressing, make sure to handle it before moving in.

4. Find the circuit breaker

If you were there during inspection, you should know where your junction box is, but if you don’t, finding it “should be the first and foremost thing that should be attended to,” Minto says. During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. (While you’re there, find the water shut-off, too.)

Then, get familiar: If it’s not already well-marked, have your spouse or another family member stand in different parts of the house while you flip different switches, and make a note of which ones handle different rooms.

water fix

5. Deal with any water problems

Looking at that inspector’s report? Deal with water-related issuesimmediately, says Minto. These tend to be troublesome because they’re so easily ignored—”out of sight, out of mind,” he says. A leaky toilet might seem minor, but the steady drip can damage internal structural components.

Check your roof, too: If the rubber vent boots on your roof are leaking, you might not know it for a while.

“By the time they see it in a ceiling, there’s been a fair amount of water,” Minto says.

6. Caulk everything

This one isn’t mandatory, but caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty, letting you see all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Minto says he sees caulking issues on “every home,” and while they might seem minor, it doesn’t take long before cracking gives way to leaks and even more water issues.

7. Plan your emergency exits

Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need some adjustments—say, removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.

gutter clean

8. Clean your gutters

BO-RING. Right? You can put this off until Day 2 of your big move, but don’t let the dullness of the task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so in your new home NOW!

“I see gutters that are filled with organic materials start to rot and start to rust through,” Minto says. Take 30 minutes to clear them out, and you’ll be rewarded come the rainy season.

Article written by Jamie Wiebe. Jamie writes about home design and real estate for realtor.com. She has previously written for House Beautiful, Elle Decor, Real Simple, Veranda, and more.


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Ready to Find your Dream Home?

Are you ready to find your next dream home? As we bring in the New Year, families across the country will be deciding if this is the year that they will sell their current house.

dream home

Many will decide that it is smarter to wait until the spring “buyer’s market” to list their house. In the past, that might have made sense. However, this winter is not like recent years.

The recent jump in mortgage rates has forced buyers off the fence and into the market, resulting in incredibly strong demand RIGHT NOW!! At the same time, inventory levels of homes for sale have dropped dramatically as compared to this time last year, making finding your dream home more of a search.

Here is a chart showing the decrease in inventory levels by category:

dream home

List your home & find your dream home!

Demand for your home is very strong right now while your competition (other homes for sale) is at a historically low level. If you are thinking of selling in 2017 and want to find your dream home, now may be the time.

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Buying: 37.7% Less Than Renting in the US

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

renting

Speaking of renting, the updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 17.4% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 53.2% less expensive in Miami & West Palm Beach (FL), and 37.7% nationwide!  That’s a huge savings in buying a home rather than renting.  As they say, either way you’re paying someone’s mortgage….may as well be your own!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • Home prices would have to appreciate by a range of over 23% in Honolulu (HI), up to over 45% in Ventura County (CA), to reach the tipping point of renting being less expensive than buying.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 145% increase over today’s average of 3.7%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

rent-vs-buy

So, do you buy or stay renting?

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find your dream home.

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Empty Nest to Full House Multigenerational Families Are Back!

From Empty Nest to Full House, multigenerational homes are coming back in a big way!

Empty Nest

In the 1950s, about 21%, or 32.2 million Americans shared a roof with their grown children or parents. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, the number of multigenerational homes dropped to as low as 12% in 1980 but has shot back up to 19%, roughly 60.6 million people, as recently as 2014.

Multigenerational households typically occur when adult children (over the age of 25) either choose to, or need to, remain living in their parent’s home, and then have children of their own. These households also occur when grandparents join their adult children and grandchildren in their home.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 11% of home buyers purchased multigenerational homes last year. The top 3 reasons for purchasing this type of home were:

  • To take care of aging parents (19%)
  • Cost savings (18%, up from 15% last year)
  • Children over the age of 18 moving back home (14%, up from 11% last year)

narDonna Butts, Executive Director of Generations United, points out that,

“As the face of America is changing, so are family structures. It shouldn’t be a taboo or looked down upon if grown children are living with their families or older adults are living with their grown children.”

For a long time, nuclear families (a couple and their dependent children) became the accepted norm, but John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living,” says, “We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families.”

Empty Nest

This shift from an empty nest to a full house can be attributed to several social changes over the decades. Growing racial and ethnic diversity in the U.S. population helps explain some of the rise in multigenerational living. The Asian and Hispanic populations are more likely to live in multigenerational family households and these two groups are growing rapidly.

Additionally, women are a bit more likely to live in multigenerational conditions than are their male counterparts (20% vs. 18%, respectively). Last but not least, basic economics.

Carmen Multhauf, co-author of the book “Generational Housing: Myth or Mastery for Real Estate,” brings to light the fact that rents and home prices have been skyrocketing in recent years. She says that, “The younger generations have not been able to save,” and often struggle to get good-paying jobs.

Empty Nest to Full House

Multigenerational households are making a comeback. While it is a shift from the more common nuclear home, these households might be the answer that many families are looking for as home prices continue to rise in response to a lack of housing inventory.

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Past, Present & Future of Home Prices

Are you looking to relocate to a new home or purchase a new home?  We think it’s best to understand the past, present and future of home prices.   CoreLogic released their most current Home Price Index last week. In the report, they revealed home prices appreciation in three categories.  The categories ranged from percentage appreciation over the last year, over the last month and projected over the next twelve months.

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Here are state maps for each category.

The Past – home appreciation over the last 12 months

The Past, Present & Future of Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

The Present – home appreciation over the last month

The Past, Present & Future of Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

The Future – home appreciation projected over the next 12 months

The Past, Present & Future of Home Prices | Keeping Current Matters

The Past, Present & Future of Home Prices

Homes Prices across the country are appreciating at different rates. Maybe you’re planning on relocating to another state.  Perhaps you are waiting for your home to appreciate more.  You could also be thinking of purchasing a home in the future.  Whatever the case,  you need to know that the home you will buy in another state may be appreciating even faster.

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NAR Reports Show Now Is a Great Time to Sell!

The last two major reports issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR Reports) revealed information that suggests that now continues to be a great time to sell your house. We all realize that the best time to sell anything is when demand is high and the supply of that item is limited.

NAR Reports

Let’s look at the data covered by the latest Pending Home Sales Report and Existing Home Sales Report.

THE PENDING HOME SALES REPORT

The report announced that pending home sales (homes going into contract) are up 2.4% over last year, and have increased year-over-year now for 22 of the last 25 consecutive months.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, had this to say:

“The one major predicament in the housing market is without a doubt the painfully low levels of housing inventory in much of the country. It’s leading to home prices outpacing wages, properties selling a lot quicker than a year ago and the home search for many prospective buyers being highly competitive and drawn out because of a shortage of listings at affordable prices.”

Takeaway: Demand for housing will continue throughout the end of 2016 and into 2017. The seasonal slowdown often felt in the winter months did not occur last winter and shows no signs of returning this year.

National Association of Realtors logo (PRNewsFoto/National Association of Realtors)

National Association of Realtors logo (PRNewsFoto/National Association of Realtors)

THE EXISTING HOME SALES REPORT

The most important data point revealed in the report was not sales, but was instead the inventory of homes for sale (supply). The report explained:

  • Total housing inventory rose 1.5% to 2.04 million homes available for sale
  • That represents a 4.5-month supply at the current sales pace
  • Unsold inventory is 6.8% lower than a year ago, marking the 16th consecutive month with year-over-year declines

There were two more interesting comments made by Yun in the report:

“Inventory has been extremely tight all year and is unlikely to improve now that the seasonal decline in listings is about to kick in. Unfortunately, there won’t be much relief from new home construction, which continues to be grossly inadequate in relation to demand.”

In real estate, there is a guideline that often applies; when there is less than a 6-month supply of inventory available, we are in a seller’s market and we will see appreciation. Between 6-7 months is a neutral market, where prices will increase at the rate of inflation. More than a 7-month supply means we are in a buyer’s market and should expect depreciation in home values. As Yun notes, we are, and will remain, in a seller’s market with prices still increasing unless more listings come to the market. 

“There’s hope the leap in sales to first-time buyers can stick through the rest of the year and into next spring. The market fundamentals — primarily consistent job gains and affordable mortgage rates — are there for the steady rise in first-timers needed to finally reverse the decline in the homeownership rate.”

Takeaway: Inventory of homes for sale is still well below the 6-month supply needed for a normal market. Prices will continue to rise if a ‘sizable’ supply does not enter the market.

What the NAR Reports say

If you are going to sell, now may be the time to take advantage of the ready, willing, and able buyers that are still out looking for your house.

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Starting a Home Search? Know What You WANT vs. What You NEED

In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.

home search

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many new homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on television or Pinterest,and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale with rose-colored glasses.

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Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen in order to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the man cave of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make or break now?

The first step in your home buying process should be to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered. (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms)
  • ‘Should Haves’ – if the property hits all of the must haves and some of the should haves, it stays in contention, but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must haves,’ most of the ‘should haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Know your “Needs” vs “Wants” before starting your home search.

Having this list flushed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting your agent know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

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What to Expect When Having Your Home Inspection

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to schedule the home inspection prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.

Gate Entry

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Often membership in one of these organizations means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

house with hand

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Your due diligence pays off with a Home Inspection

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

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Qualify for a Mortgage and have a FICO Score Under 750?

The results of countless studies have shown that potential home buyers, and even current homeowners, have an inflated view of what is really required to qualify for a mortgage in today’s market.

qualify for a mortgage

 

One such study by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, revealed that many Millennials have not yet considered purchasing a home, simply because they don’t believe they can qualify for a mortgage.

The article quoted Jessica Lautz, the National Association of Realtors’ Managing Director of Survey Research, as saying that there is a significant population that does not think they will be approved for a mortgage and doesn’t even try. The article also quoted Fannie Mae CEO Tim Mayopoulos: 

“I do think that there’s a sense out there in the marketplace among borrowers that credit may not be available, especially for people with lower credit scores.”

 

Ellie Mae’s Vice President, Jonas Moe recently encouraged buyers to know their options before assuming that they do not qualify for a mortgage:

“Many potential home buyers are ‘disqualifying’ themselves. You don’t need a 750 FICO Score and a 20% down payment to buy.”

So you want to qualify for a mortgage –  what credit score is necessary?

Below is a breakdown of the FICO Score Distribution of all closed (approved) loans in August from Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Report.

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Over 50% of all approved loans had a FICO Score under 750. Many potential home buyers believe that they need a score over 780 to qualify.

Want to qualify for a mortgage?

If owning a home of your own has always been a dream of yours and you are ready and willing to buy, find out if you are able to! Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine if your dreams can become a reality sooner than you thought!