5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low.

Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.
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Consumer Confidence Bounces Back to 15-Year High

 

“Consumer confidence increased in February and remains at a 15-year high,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement. “Consumers rated current business and labor market conditions more favorably this month than in January. Expectations improved regarding the short-term outlook for business, and to a lesser degree, jobs and income prospects. Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue expanding in the months ahead.”
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8 Outdoor Trends That Attract Buyers

If you’re considering putting your home on the market, don’t neglect your outdoor space while making improvements indoors as well. Your home’s exterior and the backyard are important in drawing the eyes of potential buyers and making your home as appealing as possible. Here are some modern trends in outdoor living that will entice today’s buyers.

Outdoor Structures
Outdoor structures make the backyard, and even the front yard in some homes, more functional. An outdoor structure can be something simple—like a storage shed—that makes the space more functional. Or, it can be an outdoor shelter—like a gazebo or pergola—that provides more outdoor living space. These outdoor structures boost the function, and therefore increase your home’s value.

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New App Shows Healthy Home Basics

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently unveiled a new mobile app to help educate the public about hidden home hazards that can impact the health of their families. The Healthy Homes App is designed to raise awareness about potentially serious health and safety problems in the home and the steps consumers can take to protect themselves.

As consumers increasingly rely upon smartphones and other mobile devices to access information, this Healthy Homes app offers a convenient tool for users to learn about common health and safety risks in the home. The app provides extensive content in clear, simple language so that users can quickly understand the potential hazards throughout a home. The app also helps residents who live in condominiums, single- family detached homes, townhouses, or in apartment buildings.
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10 Top Senior Housing Trends for 2016

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The shape of senior living communities across the world has changed drastically over the past several years. Baby boomers have their own unique ideas of what their retirement years are going to look like, and the industry must change in order to fit the shape of their unique preferences. This year’s anticipated trends don’t look like your grandmother’s retirement!

Technology
Changes in technology make it possible for seniors to adapt to many of the challenges that come with the aging process. From wearable devices that automatically alert caregivers of a fall to large-screen phones, remotes and other important devices, seniors have more high-quality care options than ever before. There are even geo-fencing options available that can help keep individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia inside safe spaces.
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Wheel Estate: Bike Paths Lift Home Values

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Bicycle-friendly amenities are contributing to a surge in property values in communities across the globe, marshaled by developments in urban centers and suburban outposts that accommodate “active” transportation.

“Today, bike trails, bike lanes, bike-share systems, and other forms of active transportation infrastructure are helping spur a new generation of ‘trail-oriented development,’” states a recently released report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) that profiles 10 such developments.

The report, “Active Transportation and Real Estate: The Next Frontier,” cites a considerable statistic: on a national scale, the values of homes in areas with “above-average” access to active transportation are higher than those of comparable properties by as much as $34,000.

Homes in proximity to the bike-able Indianapolis Cultural Trail, for instance, have seen an astronomical rise in value since the trail’s opening six years ago—148 percent, the report states. In Radnor Township, Pa., the Radnor Trail has raised the values of properties within a quarter-mile by an average approaching $70,000. Similar trends have also emerged in Atlanta and Dallas.
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Home Prices on the Rise

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Recently, one of the most closely watched housing market indicators, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, was released, and the numbers largely confirmed what the market has known for a while: U.S. home prices continue to climb at a moderate pace.

More importantly, there is a strong consensus among several widely followed home price indicators – including the Corelogic Home Price Index, FNC Residential Price Index, FHFA House Price Index, and S&P/Case¬-Shiller HPI – that prices nationwide are appreciating at a steady rate of about 5¬6 percent annually amid a growing U.S. economy and low interest rates.
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7 DIY TIPS FOR PUTTING YOUR BEST FEATURES FORWARD WHEN STAGING YOUR HOME

staging

When you put your house on the market, you want it to sell as soon as possible. That means that you need to put your best foot forward. If you do it right, it could be your staging that seals the deal on your home sale.

46% of buyers are more willing to walk through a home they viewed online if it’s staged according to the National Association of Realtors. You can have the best house in the city, but if it’s cluttered and uninviting, it’s going to be very difficult for interested buyers to look through the mess and see its potential.

1. TAKE A LOOK AT THE NEIGHBORHOOD.

If a neighboring yard isn’t quite up to standards, making your home exterior look unkept, consider a diplomatic offer to help clean it up. You can’t force your neighbors to clear away brush and take care of the leaves just because you’re selling your home, but you can put in some time to help them straighten up their yard.

2. CHECK OUT YOUR OWN EXTERIOR.

Curb appeal is one of the fastest ways to sell a home. Many buyers have already decided how they feel about the house before they even set foot inside. Power wash the driveway and take the time to wash the front of the house so that your house will put forth the best possible first impression. Make sure you’ve taken care of sweeping the porch and driveway, raking up leaves, and mowing the lawn. Read the rest of this entry »


2016: The Return of a Feel-Good Real Estate Market?

“While we are still in the midst of recovery from the downturn, there is definite strengthening in the market,” observes Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. “We think opportunities in our industry will abound next year as a variety of economic factors – low unemployment, rising rental costs, continued low interest rates, and more – open the door for REALTORS® and pave the way to growth.”

There are some mitigating factors.

“Inventory is still tight in many areas and absorption rates are on the low side,” notes Nelson Zide, president and CEO of ERA Key Realty in Framingham, Mass. “It may be a while before more sellers are ready to make the moves that will ease the crunch.”

Fast-changing technology and generational differences are tossing some traditional industry practices to the curb – even as it drives the revival of others.

“The search for a home is everywhere today,” notes OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate in Seattle, Wash. “It has never been more crucial to innovate and maximize the power of technology to empower and educate consumers in new and impactful ways.”

And legislative changes – such as TRID, the TILARESPA Integrated Disclosure rule that took effect last October to make mortgages more transparent for consumers – can mean
increased paperwork and closing issues.

“Ultimately, anything that helps consumers make better mortgage decisions is a boon to our industry,” says Rei Mesa, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida
Realty. “I believe TRID will be sorted out quickly, but it may cause some issues in the short-term
for those who were ill-prepared.”

But there appears to be more cause for confidence than for concern. For one thing, as Zide pointed out, 2016 is an election year – a time traditionally favorable to real estate, with little
rock-the-boat legislation likely to come down the pike. “Next year,” he says, “offers all the right components for agents to dig down and focus on this message to substantially grow
their business.”

For another, says Candace Adams, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties, “Renewed confidence among first-time
buyers offers reason for optimism.”

The Opportunities

For Helen Hanna Casey, president and CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate, headquartered in Pennsylvania, there is opportunity in understanding what today’s consumers want – and
delivering it in viable ways. Read the rest of this entry »


What Happens If Your Home Appraisal Comes In Low?

nest-egg-ii-1241466A low appraisal is one of the top reasons home sales fall through but this doesn’t have to be the end of the line for your real estate deal. There are several options or ways you can handle this awkward gap that’s presented itself.

REDUCE YOUR SALE PRICE

This is the quickest way to settle a low appraisal because it allows you to forgo any further negotiations with your buyer and their agent. However, this could mean leaving money on the table.

YOUR BUYER COVERS THE DIFFERENCE

If you have a committed buyer and they have enough cash to cover the difference between the appraisal and the selling price you’ve agreed on, then you can have the buyer add it to the down payment. In this case the lender should be satisfied.

MEET EACH OTHER HALFWAY

If you both decide you want the sale to move forward, it may make sense to meet in the middle and split the difference. Drop your price a bit and have the buyer add cash to the down payment.

For example, if the sale price were $400,000 and the appraised value came in at $390,000 ($10,000 less) you should lower the price to $395,000 and the buyer should bring another $5,000 to closing.

CHALLENGE YOUR APPRAISAL

If the value falls short, the buyer does have the power to request a review or a second appraisal. As the seller, you can support your buyer in their efforts by sharing the results of your own appraisal if you have one.

Challenging the appraisal can be a long shot but it may be worth it if you feel it was really off the mark. Keep in mind as well that this can backfire, and the value could come in even lower with a more in-depth review.

MOVE ON AND PUT YOUR HOME BACK ON THE MARKET

If your buyer can’t put more down and you’re not interested in reducing the price, it may be time to cut your losses and let the deal fall through. This also depends on what type of contingencies your buyer wrote into the contract. It’s not uncommon for buyers to write an appraisal contingency into the purchase agreement, allowing them to back out if it comes in too low. In this case you may have no choice but to put your home back on the market unless you’re willing to lower the price.

The risk of a low appraisal is one reason sellers favor cash offers. In that scenario, there is no appraisal. Plus if you put your home back on the market and get another buyer even without a cash offer, another lender’s appraiser could come out to be closer to your price.

For help with all the nitty gritty in your home sale, contact me today! I’ll help you negotiate, work through minor and major hiccups during the process and get you through your home sale on top.

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