Archive May 2018

How To Add Curb Appeal

Trim bushes and branches so they don’t block windows or architectural details.

Set a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch or front walkway.

Install new, matching locks and knobs on your front door.

Repair any cracks or holes in the driveway, and clean oil spots with degreaser and a steel brush.

Edge the grass around walkways and trees.

Stow your garden tools and hoses out of sight, and clear kids’ toys from the lawn.

Buy a new mailbox.

Upgrade your outdoor lighting.

Purchase a new doormat for outside your front door.

Clean your windows, inside and out.

Polish or replace your house numbers.

Mow your lawn. Also, turning on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing will make the whole yard sparkle.

Place a seasonal wreath on your door.

Questions to Ask When Considering Selling

These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, you may be ready to move.

Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Check your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out how much you’ve paid down. Usually you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest. But if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains.

Has your income or financial situation changed? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving. If your income has decreased, you may want to consider downsizing.

Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same one in which you want to settle down for good. You may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.

Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.

 

Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market?  If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy will also be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home. Ask your real estate professional what they see happening locally.

Are interest rates attractive? Low rates help you buy “more” home, and also make it easier to find a buyer for your current place.

Is the effort and cost of maintaining your current home becoming difficult to manage? A REALTOR ® can help you decide whether a smaller house, condo, or rental would be appropriate.

 

How To Prepare for House-Hunting

Know that there’s no “right” time to buy.  If you find the perfect home now, don’t risk losing it because you’re trying to guess where the housing market and interest rates are going. Those factors usually don’t change fast enough to make a difference in an individual home’s price.

Don’t ask for too many opinions.  It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of the people who will actually be living in the home.

Accept that no house is ever perfect.  If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go. Also, accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will most likely pass.

Don’t try to be a killer negotiator.  Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or refusing to budge may cost you the home you love.

Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself that you forget about important issues such as noise level, access to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.

Plan ahead.  Don’t wait until you’ve found a home to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance, or consider a moving schedule. Being prepared will make your bid more attractive to sellers.

Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation.  A home is still considered a great investment, but its most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live.

How To Buy in a Tight Market

Increase your chances of getting your dream house in a competitive housing market.

Get prequalified for a mortgage.  You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and your offer will be more desirable to the seller.

Stay in close contact with your real estate agent.  Your agent will be on the lookout for the newest listings that meet your criteria. Be ready to see a house as soon as it goes on the market — if it’s a great home, it will go fast.

Scout out new listings yourself.  Browse sources such as realtor.com and local real estate listing sites. Set up alerts for the neighborhoods and characteristics you’re looking for. Drive through your target neighborhoods, and if you see a home you like for-sale, send the address and listing agent’s name to your agent, who can schedule a showing for you.

Be ready to make a decision.  Spend plenty of time in advance deciding what you can afford and must have in a home so you won’t hesitate when you have the chance to make an offer.

Bid competitively.  Your first inclination may be to start out offering something less than the absolute highest price you can afford, but if you go too low in a tight market, you will likely lose out.

Keep contingencies to a minimum.  Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move can make your offer unappealing. Remember that, if the market is tight, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. You can also talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.

But don’t get caught in a buying frenzy.  Just because there’s competition for a home doesn’t mean you should buy it. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure the house is a sound investment.

Checklist: Your Mortgage Application

Every lender requires documents as part of the process of approving a mortgage loan. Here are documents you’re generally required to provide..

  • W-2 Tax returns — or business tax returns if you’re self-employed — for the last two or three years for every person signing the loan.
  • At least one pay stub for each person signing the loan.
  • Account numbers of all your credit cards and the amounts for any outstanding balances.
  • Two to four months of bank or credit union statements for both checking and savings accounts.
  • Lender, loan number, and amount owed on installment loans, such as student loans and car loans.
  • Addresses where you’ve lived for the last five to seven years, with names of landlords if appropriate.
  • Brokerage account statements for two to four months, as well as a list of any other major assets of value, such as a boat, RV, or stocks or bonds not held in a brokerage account.
  • Your most recent 401(k) or other retirement account statement.
  • Documentation to verify additional income, such as child support or a pension.