Nov. 8, 2017

5 Reasons Home Ownership Makes 'Cents'

The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. Recent reports show that the US homeownership rate has rebounded from recent lows and is headed in the right direction. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, but there are many basic similarities.

Today we want to talk about the top 5 financial reasons you should own your own home.

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings – Paying your mortgage each month allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life for renovations, to pay off high-interest credit card debt, or even send a child to college. As a renter, you guarantee that your landlord is the person with that equity.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings – One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. You may be able to deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, and profits from selling your home, but make sure to always check with your accountant first to find out which tax advantages apply to you in your area.
  3. Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost – When you purchase your home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you lock in your monthly housing cost for the next 5, 15, or 30 years. Interest rates have remained around 4% all year, marking some of the lowest rates in history. The value of your home will continue to rise with inflation, but your monthly costs will not.
  4. Buying a home is cheaper than renting – According to the latest report from Trulia, it is now 37.4% less expensive to buy a home of your own than to rent in the US. That number varies throughout the country but ranges from 6% cheaper in San Jose, CA to 57% cheaper in Detroit, MI.
  5. No other investment lets you live inside of it – You can choose to invest your money in gold or the stock market, but you will still need somewhere to live. In a home that you own, you can wake up every morning knowing that your investment is gaining value while providing you a safe place to live.

Bottom Line

Before you sign another lease, perhaps you should sit down with Michael Hooper to better understand all your options.

Oct. 10, 2017

10 Fall Home Improvement Tips

10 Fall Home Improvement Tips

Now that summer gear has been stowed away, it's time to focus on fall home improvement projects. According to Vicki Payne, host of the For Your Home with Vicki Payne television show, autumn is the key time to evaluate your home exterior and prepare it for the harsh winter months ahead.

"With cooler fall weather comes the realization that your home will soon experience cold, snowy weather," says Payne, a nationally recognized home improvement expert on the country's longest running home and garden television show. "To get your house ready, start by giving your exterior a thorough review. Everything should be checked, cleaned up and made ready to handle Mother Nature when she comes blowing in within the next few months."

Payne recommends this checklist for exterior fall home improvement projects:

Tip #1 - Evaluate your roof. Look for missing or loose shingles, deterioration of asphalt shingles along with mold, algae or splitting of real wood shingles. If the roof is in poor shape, consider upgrading to a synthetic roof, like those from DaVinci Roofscapes®. The composite shake and slate products resist fire, impact, high winds, insects and mold, making them an ideal long-term investment for a home.

Tip #2 - Clean your gutters. Get leaves and gunk out now so that gutters won't get backed up, clogged and frozen in the winter, causing ice formations. Gutters should be securely attached to the home and sloped for proper drainage. Also check to make sure all downspouts are clean and connected.

Tip #3 - Check your siding and trim. Make sure there are no rotting boards or insect infestations in any wood exterior products. Determine if a new paint job is needed before the winter weather hits. Should these items need replacement, research man-made low-maintenance products, like James Hardie® fiber cement siding or Ply Gem® PVC trim as reliable replacement options for key exterior parts of the home.

Tip #4 - Evaluate the deck. If your deck has seen its last summer party, look at replacing it before the winter with either a Western Red Cedar deck or composite decking from TAMKO®. Both products stand up extremely well to all types of weather and will make you happy to step out onto the deck every time.

Tip #5 - Check the functionality of your garage door. You're in and out of your garage door many times each day. Make sure it's functioning properly and has strong air infiltration seals to help keep energy bills down. If you're ready for a new look or a harder-working garage door, consider the steel and aluminum options from Haas Door.

Tip #6 - Seal up the windows. Make sure your windows have strong weather-stripping in place with energy-efficient glass that is still working. If it's time to upgrade your windows, investigate those with ENERGY STAR® ratings to help keep your home warmer during the winter months.

Tip #7 - Consider a privacy window upgrade. Tired of closing blinds or shades to gain privacy in your bathroom or bedroom? Think about replacing key windows with decorative glass or acrylic block privacy windows. Available from Hy-Lite in both operable and fixed styles, these windows add a beautiful accent to a room while protecting your privacy.

Tip #8 - Check out your doors. As with windows, your entry doors should have weather stripping that's not worn out around the entire opening. This helps keep drafty cold air out of your house during winter months.

Tip #9 - Secure or replace railings. Loose or unstable railing systems can be dangerous. Check all balusters, handrails and elements of front and back rail systems to assure they're functioning properly. If it's time for a replacement, consider a new look by adding cable rails or glass balustrades from Fortress Railing Products.

Tip #10 - Spend time with your landscaping. Once the leaves have fallen, get out the rakes. Remove dead leaves and underbrush around the house and garden area before the snow falls. Re-mulch key landscaping areas. Trim back trees and bushes away from the house to get your home ready for winter snows.

 "Home ownership means continually maintaining the exterior elements of a house," says Payne. "With its cooler weather, autumn is the ideal time to evaluate, upgrade and improve those key exterior elements to assure your home is ready for the winter months ahead." 


Written by Vicki Payne

Posted in Utah Real Estate
Oct. 10, 2017

4 Things You Absolutely Must Get Rid Of Before You Move

4 Things You Absolutely Must Get Rid Of Before You Move

So you're moving, and on your verrrrrry long moving-related "to-do" list is that old favorite: packing. Did you just let out a big sigh at the thought? Us, too. Face it, it's no fun. Actually putting stuff in boxes isn't the hard part for many people; It's the dreaded sorting and decluttering and getting rid of stuff that sends many into a panic. Take a deep breath and we'll get through these tips together.

First, use this advice from Rent.com as an overall rule of thumb: "For one, if it's damaged, it should be thrown away, no exceptions. Also, if it's spent more than six months unused, you likely won't miss it if you get rid of it. For clothes, if you haven't worn a garment in over a year, it should be donated– that way you don't get rid of seasonal clothes you may need in a few months."

Now, let's break down the specifics.

Paperwork

If you've got boxes and boxes of old receipts and taxes and printed emails dating back to the turn of the century, it's time to dive in. "Keep everything for seven years" is ingrained in many of our brains, but, according to financial expert Suze Orman, that's not necessary. She says the only thing that needs to be kept for seven years are records of satisfied loans. Income tax returns only need to be kept for three years. But, there are some reasons to keep them longer, depending on your withholdings.

Mementos and heirlooms

It can get sticky when it comes to things you've been willed or handed down. If you feel like you need to hold on to that old antique dresser that's been in your family for two generations - and that's sitting in the garage because it's not your style - or your grandmother's china that you'll never use, we get it. If you know you'll never use the item as is (China? Not even for Thanksgiving?), can't find a way to repurpose the item (Can that old sideboard be painted?), and there isn't another family member who will take it, maybe it's time to think about selling it. You might be surprised at how valuable old antiques and collectibles can be. And, if you're feeling bad about selling your heirlooms, you can always donate the money to a worthy cause; that will help you assuage your guilt.

Clothes

Getting rid of clothes can be overwhelming. No one is saying you have to pare down to a week's worth of outfits and shoes, but if you're moving to a smaller space or just want to be more organized when you move, the closet is a great place to start.

Most experts recommend getting rid of anything you haven't worn in a year, but if the thought of purging that many items is giving you anxiety, start by asking yourself a few questions, said The Spruce:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I wear it?
  • Does it project the image I want to project?
  • Does it itch or scratch?
  • Does it pinch my toes? Are the heels too high to walk in?
  • Is it moldy? Smelly? Stained?
  • Does it fit?"

When you get to No. 7, take a deep breath. Many people have clothes in a couple of sizes to accommodate things like post-pizza-pigout days, but if you're holding on to 15 pairs of pants that haven't fit you since 2002, maybe it's time to ditch them.

Broken, scratched or tired furniture

Old, boring, broken, or otherwise undesirable pieces you've been living with in your current home may not be so tolerable once you move. Your shiny new place deserves some shiny new stuff, right? If you're not in a position to shell out a bunch of money after buying your new home, wait a bit. You'll undoubtedly be receiving credit card offers after you close escrow; sift through them and set aside those offering 0% interest from furniture stores like Rooms to Go.

 These can make big purchases easier - if you are good at managing your credit. Miss a payment or fail to pay off your balance within the allotted time and you'll have interest accrued going back to the date of purchase plus a whopping interest rate, which can put payments out of reach. You may also receive 0% interest offers from places like Lowes and Home Depot, which can be a great way to update appliances, flooring, or countertops, and Best Buy for your electronic needs. 


Written by Jaymi Naciri

Oct. 10, 2017

Financial Don'ts When Getting Ready To Buy A Home

Financial Don'ts When Getting Ready To Buy A Home

If you're in the process of buying a home, you've probably already met with a lender who advised you on what to do and what not to do during the escrow process. But if you're just getting ready to buy or plan on doing so in the near future, following a few financial tips can mean the difference between qualifying...and not, and also getting a decent rate. These are a few universal "don'ts" that will help you stay on track, even before you get a lender involved.

Don't take out more credit

If you're thinking you're going to buy a house in a matter of a few months, forget that new laptop on the Best Buy card, forget that new car, and forget that Old Navy card. Sure, it's only a $30 pair of pants. But, taking out more credit can harm your debt-to-income ratios, which can make you look like a credit risk. And that's not worth it, no matter how cute the pants are.

Don't pay off all your current credit cards

Your lender will tell you specifically what you should pay down and what you should leave alone, but banks tend to like responsible credit management. In some cases, that may mean carrying a small balance on one or more cards.

Don't charge up all your cards to the limit

"Responsible credit management" does not mean running every available card up to the limit and/or only making minimum monthly payments. Banks will not look kindly on this when you go to get approved for a loan.

Be careful with old debts

You may think that in order to qualify for a mortgage or get the best possible rate you have to pull your credit and go back through every single entry to identify and take care of anything negative. You're right about the first part. Pulling your credit so you know what you're working with is critical, and financial experts recommend doing it annually, regardless of what you're planning (or not planning) to buy. But be careful with old debts. It doesn't hurt to ask a lender what should and should not be taken care of. But, in general, you'll want to:

Pay in full instead of making settlement arrangements - It's not uncommon for debt collection companies to send out settlement offers that allow you to settle debts for less than the total amount. While this can sound tempting, it likely won't yield the results you're looking for. Yes, it'll stop the harassing phone calls and persistent letters. But if your goal is to get the debt to disappear from your credit report, you'll be disappointed.

"When you settle your debt, the activity usually shows up on your credit report as ‘debt settled' or ‘partial payment' or ‘paid in settlement.' You can talk to the settlement company about the specific language they use, but the bottom line is: this is a red flag on your report," said clearpoint. "FICO doesn't reveal how much your score will drop, exactly, and your report doesn't indicate how much of the original debt was forgiven; it simply shows you settled. Either way, it still points to the fact that you may be a credit risk."

Stick to newer debts - Older debts that are getting close to falling off your report should be the last thing you pay. "You also want to consider the statute of limitations on your debt," they said. "Most past debts remain on your credit report for seven years, so if you're close to the time frame when the debt falls off, settling it may not make much of a difference. There's an ethical argument to be made here, but practically, you might just be settling a debt that was about to disappear anyway."

Be careful with debt consolidation

If you have a lot of outstanding debt, are in over your head with credit cards and store cards, and can only manage the minimum monthly payment on all your existing loans, you're likely going to have a hard time qualifying for a mortgage. You may be tempted to lump your debt together into one payment through a credit consolidation company, but beware the consequences. There may be startup fees, interest rates on the consolidation loan could skyrocket after an initial teaser rate expires, and, in some cases, an improvement in credit is years away.

Don't get lax with your payments

Your lender will reinforce this, but it bears repeating that even after you've been prequalified, you need to keep your payments current on your car, your Visa, etc. Your lender will do a recheck before closing just to make sure nothing has changed in your credit report, and if you have new issues, it could impact your loan.

Don't move money around

"We know a story of one homebuyer who almost lost his home because he had stated on his application that the down payment was coming from a mutual fund account. Then, two days before closing, he decided to sell a baseball card collection instead," said HSH.com. "The loan had to be underwritten all over, his ownership of the collection, its value and its sale had to be verified, the closing was delayed and the fees increased."

Don't change jobs before you buy your home

 This is a big no-no don't if you're in the process of buying a home or are about to. Among all the other financial information your lender will be collecting in consideration of your loan, they will also be asking about your employment history. You're obviously less likely to be approved if you're unemployed (unless you're independently wealthy, and, in that case, Congratulations!). A recent job change may also be problematic if the bank is feeling jumpy about your job security. 


Written by Jaymi Naciri

Oct. 10, 2017

Building an Emergency Fund to Cover Unexpected Home Repairs

Building an Emergency Fund to Cover Unexpected Home Repairs

With homeownership comes new responsibilities, including repair and maintenance expenses. Sooner or later, you'll encounter a leaky faucet or a blown circuit breaker and quickly learn that keeping your household up and running is no longer as simple as a call to the landlord.

Deciding how much money to spend on fixing or replacing something that's broken is often a judgment call. Either way, you need the cash to cover the expense. Building an emergency fund to assist with unexpected costs can help you promptly take care of home repairs without disrupting your daily routine.

Establish an Estimated Baseline Cost of Annual Home Repairs

Saving for a home purchase requires persistence and dedication - good habits that should continue well past settlement day. The total amount you'll need in an emergency savings fund can vary widely from home to home, as certain home characteristics may cause you to spend more or less than average on annual maintenance and repairs. Make sure to consider the age of the property, as older houses generally require more upkeep. The quality of appliances, fixtures and underlying systems like heating, cooling and plumbing may also affect your projected home repair costs.

It's also important to consider your home's location. Homes in flood-prone areas may be more susceptible to water intrusion, which can be mitigated with flood insurance. Likewise, exposure to temperature extremes, both hot and cold, can have detrimental effects on your home that require additional repair and maintenance expenses.

Budget for Emergencies and Big Fixes

Your emergency fund should be an amount you save over and above the annual maintenance costs of your home. Pay for predictable monthly or quarterly bills like lawn care, utilities, association dues and regularly scheduled cleaning services out of your household spending budget, not your emergency savings. You can determine how much you're spending in ongoing maintenance by tracking payments and recording the bills you pay in a spreadsheet or a personal financial app.

You may need to increase your emergency fund balance as larger items in your home begin to age. Keep track of your appliances and other items that may need to be replaced in the next year or so, and set aside money to pay for new ones. A large expense such as a roof replacement may require an even longer savings period.

Even in new homes, unplanned repairs can arise from a severe weather event, like high winds or hail. As any homeowner knows, an appliance that was previously working just fine may begin to malfunction for no obvious reason. An emergency fund allows you to handle surprises like these and pay for repairs that aren't covered by insurance.

Plan for Future Upgrades

Once you're comfortable with your new home and your ability to handle the related expenses, you can start thinking about additional home improvement projects - ways to improve your space rather than simply keep up the existing features. When you're ready to tackle something new, start small with a minor project such as a bathroom remodel. Eventually, you can save for larger-scale remodels like a kitchen renovation or an addition that will add value to your home and transform your living space.

 If you're about to become a new homeowner, expect the unexpected - build an emergency fund for unforeseen repairs. On top of annual maintenance expenses and the cost of your monthly mortgage and escrow, an emergency savings cushion will help you to breathe easier and make the homeownership experience a positive one. 


Written by Realty Times Staff

Oct. 10, 2017

6 Surprising Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

6 Surprising Benefits Of Buying Or Selling Your Home In The Fall

Seeing fewer for-sale signs now that summer is over? That can be great news for buyers who are looking to score a new home and buyers who want to get rid of their place and buy a new one. If you think you missed the boat on making your move this year, we're here to tell you why buying and selling in the fall can work for you.

Less competition

Yes, there may be fewer homes on the market, but there are also fewer buyers out there competing for the same home you want. That gives buyers an important edge. "Families on a mission to move into a new home before school starts are out of the picture," said Forbes. "Competition for houses drops off in the fall, a time many people consider to be off-season in real estate. But there are still homes for sale - and in some cases, there's just as much inventory as there was during the spring and summer."

The benefit to sellers is that those buyers who are out there tend to be more serious, which means your REALTOR® can key in on the real buyers without having to sift through the riffraff.

Tax breaks

If you're a buyer who closes escrow before December 31, and you may get a nice write off on your taxes. "Property tax and mortgage interest are both deductions you can take for your whole year's worth of income, even if you closed on your home in December," David Hryck, a New York, NY tax adviser, lawyer, and personal finance expert told Realtor.com. "Any payments that are made prior to the closing of the loan are tax-deductible. This can make a serious difference in the amount you owe the government at the end of the year."

There are also potential tax breaks for home sellers. "You can include all sorts of selling expenses in the cost basis of your house," said The Balance. "Increasing your adjusted cost basis decreases your capital gain because this is what's subtracted from the sales price to determine how much of a gain - or loss in some cases - you've realized. If you have less of a gain, you're more likely to fall within the exclusion limit, and if you're gain isn't excluded, you'll pay taxes on less." And that's just the beginning. Closing costs and home improvements may also be write offs for sellers.

Home for the holidays

Buy or sell early in the fall and you could be nicely situated in your new home in time for the holidays and before winter weather hits. Moving during a calmer time of year also means you may have better access to movers and other necessary resources than during the busier spring and summer seasons.

The right price

Did you list in the spring or summer with an exorbitant number that you thought you'd have no trouble getting because it was a hot market? That's pretty common these days. Whether you've had a revelation about the price you should be asking or have made updates to your home to justify a higher price, you're probably in better shape to get your (realistic) asking price in the fall. If you're a seller and you establish a smart pricing strategy, you could find your home standing out in the crowd and selling while others sit on the market under a blanket of snow.

Buyers also may have a better time getting a home that's within their budget because when there is less competition for homes, there is less chance of bidding wars and over-asking-price sales.

Fall may be safer for buyers and sellers

Here's something you may not have thought of. "Did you know that burglars have peak seasons? They do, Sarah Brown, a home safety expert for SafeWise.com, told Forbes. "July and August are prime months for burglaries to take place. Waiting until the fall [to buy] gives you an advantage when learning about a home and the neighborhood. You'll be settled in your home and can take precautions—like setting up that new alarm system—before the next burglary season rolls around.

For sellers, less competition for your home can be a good thing if it means your home is safer from theft.

Great deals on stuff to fix up your home

 Coordinate the timing right, and those items you need to fix up your home for sale in the fall or update and upgrade after a purchase might be priced to your advantage. Check Consumer Reports for a full list of the best times of year to buy everything, and keep in mind holiday and Black Friday sales. You could score some great deals at this time of year. 

Written by Jaymi Naciri

Sept. 11, 2017

Increase Home Office Productivity: Remodeling Design Tips

Increase Home Office Productivity: Remodeling Design Tips

Working from home is both a luxury and a curse. Sure, you don't have to fight with traffic or even get dressed in the morning, but the line between home and work can begin to blur to the point where you're not sure if you're working from home or living at work. Additionally, it is much easier to get distracted when your office is part of your house. Kids, pets, phone, doorbell — these distractions can add up to sensory overload and prevent you from working productively.

The key to overcoming this problem is to redesign and remodel your home workspace. With a few tips, you can have all the advantages of working at home and still achieve the level of productivity that comes with working in an office.

Create a (Reasonably) Comfortable Workspace

You want your home office to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you are inclined to take a nap. You want it to be welcoming, but not so welcoming that your kids set up camp in there with you. The design of the space should be infused with elements of your personality, including paintings, furniture and decor, but these elements should not detract from the functionality of the space. These elements should take up as little floor and leg space as possible. Keep items like floating shelves, fold away desks and chairs, and wall-mounted cabinets in mind when considering how to best use your limited space.

You also want to make sure that your designated office or workspace is in an airy, well-lit domain in your home. An area with an existing heating and ventilation unit is ideal. However, if the only space available to you is in the basement, stock up on fans, an air purifier and a humidifier to counter the stagnant air.

Use Lighting Appropriately

In an ideal home office, three kinds of light should be available: task lighting, ambient lighting and natural daylight. Task lighting is light you can shine directly on your work, so a desk lamp or flexible floor lamp is a good option. Use compact fluorescent, energy-efficient bulbs for your task lighting because they stay cool, last longer and are available in different watts and color variants to best suit your individual needs.

 

For natural lighting, try to set up your workspace near a window. Natural lighting is the most effective (and the cheapest) of the recommended lighting types. Plus, being able to gaze out the window every so often as you work is good for the soul. Be sure to invest in some quality window treatments, though, to block out the distractions that the window might bring and also to monitor the temperature in the office area. A sheer curtain can also be implemented to create ambient lighting for performing tasks that do not require direct or natural light.

Control the Stimulation Level

When considering colors for your workspace, remember that some colors stimulate the brain more than others. Colors that are too dark or too vibrant may prove distracting or can even elicit anxiety. For the walls, choose a neutral color that is soothing in the warm months of the year and also warming in the cooler months. Shades like cream, lemon and pastel blue are smart choices.

Too much noise can also be a stimulant and a distraction when trying to work from home. The kids yell, the dog barks, the television blares. Your workspace needs to block out these noises while still allowing you to hear what's important. A good rug or carpet can absorb some of the noise; however, you can also install panels on the wall or add sound-proofing mats for added absorption. Simply upgrading the insulation in the room and the air sealing can cut back on noise pollution significantly.

So, if home is where the heart and the office is, a few remodeling and designing tips can help you boost your productivity and better enjoy your home office. 


Written by Realty Times Staff

Posted in Utah Real Estate
Sept. 11, 2017

Are Millions of Boomerang Buyers About To Ignite The Real Estate Market?

Are Millions Of Boomerang Buyers About To Ignite The Real Estate Market?

Remember all those people who defaulted on their homes during the last housing crisis? Well, those bankruptcies are about to be discharged, or they already have been, and that means we could soon see an avalanche of homebuyers hitting the market.

Just what constitutes an avalanche? "More than 12.8 million homes entered the foreclosure process - roughly 29 percent of all homes with a mortgage," between 2007 and 2014," said The BIG Picture. "At the peak of foreclosures in 2009, more than 650,000 homes, 1.5 percent of those with a mortgage, entered foreclosure in a single quarter."

According to CoreLogic, this is a key year for boomerang buyers because seven years have passed since the peak of foreclosures in 2010. A whopping "1.9 million homeowners who faced owner-occupied foreclosures between the start of the housing crisis in 2007 through 2010 will have met the seven-year period after which the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires derogatory information to be removed," they said. "By the end of 2020, another 1.2 million homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2011 and 2013 will become eligible."

A new TransUnion Study Found that, "1.5 million homeowners negatively impacted by the mortgage crisis could re-enter the housing market in the next three years."

But do they want back in?

Many think so.

"The chief attraction is strong motivation, Kent Temple, broker/owner of Keller Williams Realty - The Temple Team in Mooresville, N.C., said on Bankrate. "If you've been through a foreclosure, you've already been a homeowner. "You know what it's about. You know the process. You've been through hell sometime in the last seven years, and if you really want to buy a house, you are so willing to do whatever it takes."

But some aren't so sure.

"As those foreclosures began to clear, many observers speculated that a slew of ‘boomerang buyers' was poised to return to the housing market," said The BIG Picture. "Those buyers have been slow to materialize. So what's hindering their return?"

Oh, little things like:

  • Rising home prices
  • Rising mortgage rates
  • Low inventory
  • More stringent lending requirements
  • Credit scores that haven't jumped back up to where they need to be because of other delinquency issues

There may also be the fear factor. Do buyers who lost a home to foreclosure once before want to take the risk again? If they do, they are largely looking to be more careful this time around, said Jami Harich, a real estate agent with Avery-Hess Realtors in Fredericksburg, VA, in the Washington Post. "Most buyers I work with now, especially if they lost a home in the past, don't want to get in over their heads. They start with a monthly payment that they want to stick to, and then I show them what they can find on the market that fits in that budget."

Whatever their reasoning, "History says not all those buyers are likely to come back," said The BIG Picture.

"According to a 2016 study by CoreLogic, fewer than half of those who lost a home in 2000 or later have purchased new homes, even among those 16 years past a foreclosure." The boomerang rate has been especially low so far for people who lost their homes during the crisis. A little over 30 percent of borrowers who lost their homes in 2000 had purchased another home seven years after the event. But only about 15 percent to 20 percent of borrowers who lost a home between 2006 and 2008 had returned to the housing market after seven years."

Quick or slow

Perhaps it's the rate at which boomerang buyers have been returning (or not) to the market that has surprised industry experts the most. Instead of the rapid return like many had predicted, the boomerang effect has been more tempered, according to CoreLogic.

"While millions of former homeowners reentering the buying market would have a significant impact on home sales, historical data shows a more gradual return rate for these so-called boomerang buyers, with less than half returning to homeownership even 16 years after the foreclosures were completed. Historical return rates show recent incremental volumes of 150,000 boomerang buyers returning per year, or 12,500 per month. Of the 4.4 million owner-occupied foreclosures completed since 2000, 1 million foreclosed homeowners have returned." 


Written by Jaymi Naciri

Sept. 11, 2017

6 Important Things To Know About New-Home Upgrades

6 Important Things To Know About New-Home Upgrades

Getting ready to buy a brand-new house? Moving into a home that no one has ever lived in before is incredibly exciting. So is picking out all your finishes so everything really suits you. But there are several important factors to keep in mind when it comes to the upgrades and options that are offered by the builder, starting with the fact that anything you choose beyond what is considered "standard" will raise the price of the home.

The home price is just the starting point

Have you fallen in love with a model home that's all decked out with sleek countertops and fancy appliances and hand-scraped floors and elaborate window coverings? Depending on where you're buying, you may have to pay more for some - or all - of what you see in the models. The "standard" home is typically a much more stripped-down version than what you're shown in the model complex.

Want to make changes to the floorplan or select higher-end finishes? Be prepared to pay for them. "A surprisingly large amount of the money you spend on your new home will be determined by the options and choices you make," said NewHomeSource.

You may be limited in the options you can choose

If you have something specific in mind and you don't see it offered by the builder, always ask your real estate agent or the sales professional in the new-home community. Depending on how flexible they are, you might be able to negotiate custom-ordered items into your home. Or, it may turn out you'll have to compromise, or add in the items after the home is finished... which isn't always such a bad thing.

It might make sense to hold back a little

Two more great benefits of adding upgrades from the builder:

  1. The work is done before you move in.
  2. The upgrades are included in the builder's warranty.

However, you definitely pay for those conveniences. If you price compare some of the items you're looking at adding, like countertops or flooring, you might find that you can get them for much less elsewhere. Many of the upgrades offered by builders are huge profit centers for them. If you're willing to go through some renovations after you take possession of the home and either pay out of pocket or finance those options elsewhere, you could save some money.

You can roll your upgrades into your mortgage

But, having to spend thousands of dollars out of pocket for upgrades after you've just spent so much money on your new house may not seem ideal. An added benefit to handling your upgrades through the builder is that you can roll the added costs right into your mortgage instead of having to deal with a separate payment that might have a higher interest rate. The payment may be nominal - $10,000 in upgrades could cost you about $50 a month. But, you'll have to make sure that the additional cost doesn't push you over your loan approval amount.

You may have to go back to your lender for more money

If the new home you're buying is already at the top of what you've qualified for and you're raising the overall price with thousands of dollars of upgrades, a conversation with your lender is in order. If you can't raise your qualification amount, you'll have to whittle down those upgrades.

Not all upgrades will bring you ROI

Making smart choices is key when picking your upgrades, because not only do you want to create a home that suits your needs, style, and taste, but you also want to make sure the money you're spending will pay you back when you go to sell someday. Yes, thinking about selling a new home you're just now buying may seem odd, but it's all about return on investment (ROI). If you're not thinking about it when you're spending your money, you might not get that money back later on.

When considering where to spend, concentrate on the kitchen first. "The kitchen is the heart of the home, the spot where you will spend the majority of your time and make the most memories," said NewHomeSource. "It can never be overly well equipped. Pay special attention to cabinets and appliances, as this is what future buyers will focus on, as well as the tools you will use every day."  


Written by Jaymi Naciri

Sept. 11, 2017

Easy Fixes For Potential Deal Killers

Easy Fixes For Potential Deal Killers

You're ready to sell your home, you've got a buyer lined up, you're about to make an offer on that great home down the street, and then... everything falls apart.

"It's a problem that's more common than you'd think with home sales: a buyer has made an offer, the seller accepts, and it seems like the deal is done," said Fox News. "But then something comes along to ruin the sale and it's back to square one."

The good news is there are easy solutions that can help save even the biggest deal killers.

Bad Appraisals

"Industry professionals overwhelmingly named appraisals as the biggest obstacle they face in getting deals to the closing table," said The Real Deal.

The solution? Gather as much information as possible about your home.

Your agent should be providing comprehensive information about comparable home sales in your area. Anything you can add to that—details about homes that sold, updates you have done—can help.

Credit Mistakes

Boo boos on your credit report from years ago are one thing. Running out to make a big purchase on credit the week before you're set to close is another.

Your loan preapproval is based off your financial situation at the start of your escrow, and actual loan approval can be impeded by making large purchases (especially ones that cause more debt and monthly payments).

The solution: Wait until after your loan has recorded to make big purchases.

That way you don't have any chance of derailing your deal. The bonus is that once your mortgage shows up on your credit report, you might also be able to secure interest-free credit lines from retailers like Best Buy or Home Depot.

Bad Home Inspections

When the inspection turns up a few issues, your buyer will probably request you pay for them. Especially with big stuff like roofing problems or water damage. You can choose to say no, which may result in a cancelled contract. And, you'll have to disclose the issues that were uncovered, which may make it even harder to find another buyer.

The solution: negotiate.

There may be some wiggle room so you don't have to cover 100 percent of the costs of repairs. Or, do the necessary repairs with your vendors. You may know people who can get you a deal to save you money.

Unpaid Taxes

So, the inspections looked great (aside from the water damage in the closet, which the seller agreed to replace) and the loan is all set to go. But then it turns out there was something else in that closet. Five years of unpaid property tax bills! And you're just finding out by running title a few days before closing.

The solution: Do your due diligence to make sure you are protecting your interests. If this had been addressed early enough in the process, there might have been time for a negotiation to save the deal. Make sure you educate yourself to be able to ask the right questions in the escrow process to avoid this kind of tragedy.

Bank Delays

"One of the biggest killer of deals these days is time itself," said The Real Deal. "Many deals are falling through not because a buyer isn't qualified for a mortgage, but because it takes the bank too long to approve it."

The solution: Good ‘ole communication.

A nervous seller may pull the plug on a deal that's taking too long, especially if they have other options. Keeping the lines of communication open—between buyer's and seller's agents, and also between the buyer's agent and the lender—can help save it.

Tense Negotiations

You have a potential buyer—finally!—who loves your home. Now it's just a matter of agreeing on a price. But you're miles away and no one wants to budge. Even though your real estate agent told you from the beginning that your sales price was too high and is encouraging you come down, you just don't want to take less that what you think your house is worth.

The solution: Listen to your agent

A professional REALTOR® really does know best when it comes to home prices. If you refuse to negotiate, you'll probably lose your buyer. And when you find another, you'll be in the same negotiating situation. If you've already found another house and are paying for two mortgages, you're losing money by not selling, even if the price isn't exactly what you had in mind. 


Written by Jaymi Naciri