Archive March 2018

Questions to Ask About the Neighborhood

Where you live should reflect your lifestyle. These questions will help you find the best community for you.

Is it close to my favorite spots?  Make a list of activities you engage in and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engage in your most common activities.

Is it safe?  Contact the police department to obtain neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type and trend. (Is crime going up or down?). Pay attention to see where in the neighborhood the crime is happening.

Is it economically stable?  Check with your local economic development office to see if household income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the ratio of owner-occupied homes to rentals? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they indicate a more transient population. Are there vacant businesses or homes that have been on the market for months? Check news sources to find out if new development is planned.

Is it a good investment?  Ask a local REALTOR® about price appreciation in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how a home’s value might grow. A REALTOR ® also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes coming to the neighborhood — such as a new school or highway — that might affect its value.

Do I like what I see?  Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go and get a feel for what it might be like to live there. Take notes: Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets bustling or quiet? How does it feel? Pick a pleasant day if you can, and chat with people working or playing outside.

What’s the school district like?  This is especially important if you have children, but it also can affect resale value. The local school district can probably provide information on test scores, class size, the percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, visit schools in neighborhoods you’re considering.

Before Putting Your House up for Sale

Here are a few items to take care of before listing your house. This can make the sale process quicker and easier in the long run.

Consider a pre-sale home inspection.  An inspector will be able to give you a good indication of the trouble areas that will stand out to potential buyers, and you’ll be able to make repairs before showings begin.

Organize and clean.  Pare down clutter and pack up your least-used items, such as large blenders and other kitchen tools, out-of-season clothes, toys, and seasonal items. Store items off-site or in boxes neatly arranged in the garage or basement. Clean the windows, carpets, walls, lighting fixtures, and baseboards to make the house shine.

Get replacement estimates.  Do you have big-ticket items that will need to be replaced soon? Find out how much it will cost to repair an older roof or replace worn carpeting, even if you don’t plan to do so. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the house, and they’ll be handy when negotiations begin.

Locate warranties.  Gather up the warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for the furnace, washer/dryer, dishwasher, and any other items that will remain with the house. It may seem like this task can be left until closing, but you don’t want lost paperwork or last-minute scrambling to cause the deal to fall through.

Spruce up the curb appeal.  Walk out to the front of your house, close your eyes, and pretend you’re a prospective buyer seeing the property for the first time. As you approach the front door, what is your impression of the property? Do the lawn and bushes look neatly manicured? Is the address clearly visible? What do you see framing the entrance, if anything? Is the walkway free of cracks and impediments?

WHAT TO KNOW 7 Reasons to Work With a REALTOR®

7 Reasons to Work With a REALTOR

REALTORS® aren’t just agents. They’re professional members of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribe to its strict code of ethics. This is the REALTOR® difference for home buyers:

  1. Ethical treatment.
    Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®’s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. The first obligation is to you, the client.
  2. An expert guide.
    Buying a home usually requires dozens of forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes. Also, there’s a lot of jargon involved, so you want to work with a professional who can speak the language.
  3. Objective information and opinions.
    REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They also have objective information about each property. REALTORs® can use that data to help you determine if the property has what you need. By understanding both your needs and search area, they can also point out neighborhoods you don’t know much about but that might suit your needs better than you’d thought.
  4. Expanded search power.
    Sometimes properties are available but not actively advertised. A REALTOR® can help you find opportunities not listed on home search sites and can help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market.
  5. Negotiation knowledge.
    There are many factors up for discussion in a deal. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective, including crafting a purchase agreement that allows enough time for you to complete inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase.
  6. Up-to-date experience.
    Most people buy only a few homes in their lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. Even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS® handle hundreds of transactions over the course of their career.
  7. Your rock during emotional moments.
    A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on the issues most important to you.

WHAT TO KNOW: 7 Reasons to Own A Home

7 Reasons to Own A Home

  1. Tax benefits.  The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.
  2. Appreciation. Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. In fact, median single-family existing-home sale prices have increased on average 5.2 percent each year from 1972 through 2014, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. The recent housing crisis has caused some to question the long-term value of real estate, but even in the most recent 10 years, which included quite a few very bad years for housing, values are still up 7.0 percent on a cumulative basis. In addition, the number of U.S. households is expected to rise 10 to15 percent over the next decade, creating continued high demand for housing.
  3. Equity.  Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
  4. Savings.  Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax.
  5. Predictability.  Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.
  6. Freedom.  The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.
  7. Stability.  Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.